Do you give money to people begging on streets when travelling?

IMG_9030How 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?



3 thoughts on “Do you give money to people begging on streets when travelling?

  1. Interesting question you pose. Clearly there are many in need in many places, and how to meet that need, or offer support/acknowledgement.
    When traveling in India some years ago, we received interesting advice from our guide. He told us that many of the beggars, particularly children, were often part of an “operation” where they were strategically positioned, and their take wasn’t theirs. he also warned us that giving could result in us being mobbed and robbed. How true it all was I don’t know, but it was certainly food for thought.

    I am prone now to give actual food to someone, as I know it can be used if they are hungry, and can’t really be turned into drugs or alcohol, which I am not interested in supporting.

    Liked by 1 person

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