Picture the scene – you’re traveling around, probably within South East Asia, and you’re seeing sights to blow your mind, and experiences you’ll never forget, you’re happy, and you’re enjoying yourself; you turn around and you see something which makes your heart drop – a child, dressed scruffily, obviously in need of food and a wash, and they’re begging you for money.
What do you do?
Your first human instinct will probably be to pull a few coins out of your purse or wallet and hand them over to the child, because of course you want to help, you have more in your poorest state than they will ever have in their lives, but are you doing them any good by doing ‘the right thing’?
Basically, giving money to child beggars, or buying anything from children on the streets, is a no no,
This might go totally against every human instinct you have, but by giving to these children, you’re actually fuelling a system which is controlled by an adult, usually the child’s parents, which is not only keeping the child out of school and stopping them from having an education and going on to make a good go at life, but that child could also be subject to abuse from the adult, putting them on the streets to beg. Don’t be fooled into thinking that the child is asking you for money to go buy bread to eat, because most of the time (not all, but certainly most of the time) that child is begging for money which will then be taken from them by an adult, and the child will get nothing.
It’s a difficult situation to be in, I’m not going to lie, and you will probably want to cry as you walk away, but it’s something you must do. If it helps, don’t make eye contact, keep moving, and instead look to put your cash or resources into something which really helps.
If you do your research carefully you will find official charities which help children, so instead of giving cash to children begging on the street, donate to the charity and know that the money you’re giving is going to a good cause. You could even donate clothes or books to organisations or schools. There are ways you can help, ways which will go towards the positive, rather than the negative.
If you’ve ever seen the film Slumdog Millionaire then you will understand what I’m trying to get at; if you haven’t seen it, before you head off on your travels make sure you do. This is hard-hitting, and it is difficult to watch at times, but this kind of thing does happen, and being aware of it is the best way to recognise the situation you’re being faced with.
So, to answer the question, should you give to child beggars? No. Instead, put your money towards good, and hope that in the future you won’t have to face the same situation again.
Photo Credit: Megan Skelly