“Money mister? One dollar? One pen? One bon-bon? One rupee?” Coming to grips with poverty whilst travelling in developing countries, and deciding how you might respond to beggars can be distressing. Intrepid’s approach varies from culture to culture, but with advice from those in the aid and development sector, we suggest a few pointers:
- Don’t give to begging children. Giving to children is a sure way to perpetuate their poverty, particularly when they and their parents consider it more lucrative than attending school. If you want to support children, seek out organisations that are working to provide educational opportunities to the poorest children. A good education will be their best opportunity to climb out of poverty.
- The elderly and people with disabilities – find out what welfare services are available and ask local people how they believe these people may be best supported.
- Learn about the cultural and religious norms for supporting the poor. In Islamic communities, giving is one of the five pillars of Islam – with middle and upper class Muslims expected to give a percentage of what they possess away to the needier. This giving is usually done through their mosque and adjunct welfare agencies. In Buddhist societies – giving alms to the poor will bring good karma or merit and help toward a better next life or incarnation, hence you will often see Buddhists give, particularly to elderly people.
Intrepid can recommend a range of sound organisations that travellers may support, through The Intrepid Foundation. We can then guarantee that 100% of your donation will get to the charity and we offer the extra incentive that Intrepid Travel will match your donation. The instant gratification of giving a few coins to a beggar may not be there, but this way your contribution will be so much more effective and sustainable.
* photo by Michelle Wigg – Intrepid Photography Competition