How do you feel when you see someone begging on a street? Does it make you feel embarrassed? Do you look away? ……..It’s not your problem after all. Or do you give money or food? Or does it depend where you are?
Living in the UK we are lucky enough to have a welfare system but I still see people clearly homeless and living on the streets. They may not be actively begging but I have seen other people give money or food. I am beginning to think that giving food or a thick jumper is an excellent idea as it gives instant gratification and you know exactly what your money has done for that person.
Travelling overseas is perhaps a different matter, there might not be any welfare particularly in a country trying hard to develop. Sometimes I have seen children and disabled adults begging and its hard to walk on by. I have known hotel staff to advise not to give money as it might be spent on something far from healthy and to avoid giving children goods as they will return them to a shop for the money and again the money may not be spent on wholesome food or shelter.
Visiting Tonie Sap Lake in Cambdia myself and fellow travellers ended up paying $35 for some rice for school children. As we drove away we had a bitter taste in our mouths and felt that we had been ‘seen off’. Hindsight is a wonderful thing, perhaps we should have refused and taken something with us that we felt was useful such as pens and paper for the school. Forewarned is for armed and clearly we weren’t but we all learn by our mistakes.
But what do you do? Walk on by or drop a few dollars in the box?