begging children
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The beggar and your travel budget – 5 tips how to deal with beggars

It breaks my heart sometimes: children in oversized Tees without any underwear sleeping in the streets, hair all tangled up and so dirty. Their parents look no different, yet they look not mall nourished.

The other night I saw an old man, he must have been over 70, playing his harmonica and holding up his hand for a few pesos. I passed him. The demon on my shoulder told me his clothes looked too nice for him to be a beggar. The angel on my other shoulder yelled I was a cheapskate and the man probably dressed up nicely due to his age and was ‘working’ for his money.

It tears me apart. Should I budget money for beggars?

They are all part of a cartel, are they?

When I was traveling in South America I worked for a welfare and aid organization, even they taught me not to give any money to beggars, since most of them belong to the most wealthy cartels in the country, deliberately mutilating infants in order to get more money. And not long after that, I’ve seen it with my own eyes, a mother and a baby, no older than 3 months with a terrible fresh wound of an amputated foot, not taken care of properly, rotting flesh. I never ever forget the sight of that. When I offered to take her to the hospital so someone could look after that horrendous covered with flies wound, she got mad as hell, telling me I was suggesting to ruin her business.

I was shocked.

In Colombia, it is well known that beggars borrow children from orphanages to exploit them in the street in front of tourists. In India a scandal was reported that doctors amputate healthy feet and legs so people could be begging the streets, here in the Philippines I have no idea how the situation is, there are poverty and poverty, and I do not believe beggars can’t find a job, there are also a lot of vacancies, almost every store needs an employee. So it must be possible to get your act together and work for your income unless there is a serious underneath problem like lack of education and illiteracy, broken homes, natural disasters, etc.

But I cannot solve world poverty with the donation of a few pesos. I have to accept that poverty is part of this countries legacy and they have to solve it themselves.

Filipino beggars

The demon and the angel on my shoulder are working overtime.

To them, I’m a walking wallet, and although I know I’m on a tight budget, my budget is a lot more than they earn in a week even if they do have a job. And I can enjoy my time here without that 1 peso anyway, so why not give them money?

The Angel on my shoulder wants to solve global poverty and she uses my emotions to the max:
Look at that poor child/woman/man… can you be so ignorant? Can you sleep at night in your soft hotel bed while you know they are out here in the streets?
Look at those eyes…..look at those hands, look at the amputated foot/hand/leg, he cannot work.
it is just one peso, or 5 maybe, you also gave money to the caroling children the other night, why not to this poor person?

The Demon is exploiting my knowledge and good reads on the subject to stop me from making a fool of myself:
You know most of them are a fraud. You know you do not help them with ‘just one peso’, you’ll probably get spit on for giving so little, or you support a drug/alcohol habit.
Walk on, ignore them, let the country take care of their own people.
Don’t you dare to give money, you will be surrounded in a sec by a swarm of beggars.

And that is true, I witnessed that with my own eyes in Batangas, where some woman handed out candy from the middle of the ferry to the begging children that swarm the outriggers. I was caught in the middle of the eagerness of 2 boys wrestling over some candy, my head embraced by their struggling hands while other boys were shouting at them ready to join in. I had a hard time freeing myself. Within a split second, about 10 children were screaming and fighting over a handful of candy.

Now there you see, the Angel on my shoulder who is witnessing me writing this blog, whispers: if they fight over candy so much, how hungry are they? and you choose to ignore them?

Gosh, what is wisdom?

But there is a solution to ease your mind when ignoring beggars just isn’t your style. Keep reading!

how to deal with beggars

Five tips on how to deal with beggars:

  1. Give food, clothing or shoes, livestock or seeds and plants, and preferably no money
  2. Adopt a school or a family and offer structural support, monitor how they spent your investment
  3. If you want to help someone to start a business, make sure they have a realistic business plan and monitor it constantly
  4. Pay bills directly so you know bills get paid, when you provide for education or businesses
  5. Donate to a local project for a deep well, new schoolbooks, or healthcare, so the whole community benefits.

Make sure you follow your brains first and your gut feeling second in this one. Make wise decisions when you decide to help a poor person. I recall wanting to help a beggar in Amsterdam, I offered him a meal, and he scolded me and was very impolite, he didn’t want a meal, he could get that at the Salvation Army, he wanted money for a beer………

His sign said: Help me I need food.

That is food for thought!

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