A Little Quandary…When do you Donate?

The oldest girl in the group of children, she couldn’t have been more than 13, leveled a sly look my way before stating:

“Lady, you buy our bracelets or who knows what will happen to your bicycles…”

At that point, I think my jaw dropped.

The Backstory

Laura and I rented bikes for a day of exploring the Angkor temples closet to Siem Reap – and after a pretty harried bike ride down a dusty and trafficky road we were grateful to chain up our bikes to a nearby tree with some pretty pathetically thin chains.

Welcome to Angkor Wat

Locals and tourists alike bike around the Angkor Wat temples

As we bent over our bikes several of the children selling information books and bracelets surrounded us and proffered their goods. We good-naturedly tried to joke around with the kids and steer the conversation elsewhere from the buying of yet more bracelets…it didn’t work.

At that point we very firmly (but still smiling) declined buying any of the bracelets, books, necklaces, and handmade knickknacks. We had just finished chaining up the bikes and were ready to head into Angkor Wat when the oldest of the girls sized up the situation and looked me straight in the eye when she hit with that line:

“Lady, you buy our bracelets or who knows what will happen to your bicycles…”

Then, at my shocked and incredulous look she quickly back-stepped a bit:

“Oh no lady, we won’t do anything to your bikes…but if you buy bracelets then we will watch them for you…otherwise who knows what will happen to them…”

Protection from the mad dust and pollution!

Protection from the mad dust and pollution as we tuk-tuked it every other day we visited the temples

The Internal Debate

Laura and I were both pretty taken aback by the situation but quickly recalculated and with a brief glance agreed that one of us would buy the $2 worth of bracelets now and the other one would pick out something when we came back for our bikes.

All of the kids were grinning widely at our sudden about-face and eagerly proffered their colorful basketfuls of bracelets so that we could adorn our arms with several of the light brown bamboo woven circles.

What’s the Solution?

So here’s the conundrum…what would you have done in this same situation? As a traveler I hear all of these opinions:

  • Don’t give to beggars, give to local support organizations…
  • Don’t buy from street children because they should be in school and you only encourage them to sell goods to tourists…
  • Donating to kids on the streets contributes to their exploitation and abuse in countries like India, so don’t give your spare change…

And all of this is well in good in theory. But what about in practice? I caved in this situation and bought goods from the kids – in fact, I bought boatloads of bracelets from the little ones all throughout my time in Southeast Asia…it’s really hard to say no – and in a few cases I bought the bracelets from my niece, but other times purely out of guilt.

Sunset at Angkor Wat

Sunset from one of the moderately crowded temples we could bike to in the evening

It’s just, I don’t know where the middle-ground is…I do have the money to donate to the occasional beggar, and certainly to give a bit of money here and there to the kids. In some cases, I would whip out a spare banana from my purse to those kids begging for food…and about 60 percent of the time they accepted it gratefully; then there’s the 40 percent who just wanted the cash and walked away from the food – it’s those situations that make it all so discouraging and confusing at times.

As far as the kids who basically brokered a soft-core bribe at Angkor Wat for the bikes…yeah, I paid them, which likely means they’ll do it to other tourists too. And while I don’t regret the decision per se, I’m still pretty conflicted about how to deal with these situations on my travels.

Any thoughts?

, , ,


60 Responses to A Little Quandary…When do you Donate?

  1. enrolled agent exams March 18, 2010 at 3:07 am #

    I just found out about your blog recently really great and very informative! Sadly kids on some countries would like it better if you give them money rather than food, I had an experience same as your. Like you said once your in that situation, most of the times you just cave in.

    • ShannonOD March 18, 2010 at 3:54 am #

      Thanks Ricco for the kind words about the site. As for the children, it's
      really jsut such a tough call; sorry to hear that you've had that same
      experience with the children – though I know I should stand strong the guilt
      is always so strong that I just willingly cave to them under tough
      circumstances!

  2. ShannonOD March 17, 2010 at 8:54 pm #

    Thanks Ricco for the kind words about the site. As for the children, it's
    really jsut such a tough call; sorry to hear that you've had that same
    experience with the children – though I know I should stand strong the guilt
    is always so strong that I just willingly cave to them under tough
    circumstances!

  3. Ricca March 17, 2010 at 8:07 pm #

    I just found out about your blog recently really great and very informative! Sadly kids on some countries would like it better if you give them money rather than food, I had an experience same as your. Like you said once your in that situation, most of the times you just cave in.

  4. mina March 13, 2010 at 7:40 pm #

    We just visited a township, in Cape Town, where a middled aged man from the UK would take pictures of the children and then call them over and say (very condescendingly): “Here's some money, do you know what this is for? It's because I took your picture”. This same man told us that he was worried about going to the township because he didn't want them to think he was gawking at poor people. We were so disgusted by his behavior. They weren't even asking for anything. If the kids didn't know about begging/getting money from tourists, they do now. Alex and I typically don't give for several reasons already discussed here – but sometimes it's difficult and we cave.

    • ShannonOD March 15, 2010 at 3:58 am #

      Wow, that's incredibly insensitive of that man, it kind of leaves me
      speechless – you can really only account for your own actions I guess, but
      let's hope that perhaps if there's a miracle that he will gain a bit more
      perspective down the road.

  5. DavenDeb March 4, 2010 at 3:16 am #

    I didn't mean to chastise you Shannon. Honest:-) I was just stating
    what we do. It is always a difficult choice and heartbreakig to see
    kids having to work rather than be in school. I was shocked with these
    kids though and feel that they need a good scolding for being bratty.
    I can understand being caught off guard though. Who knows what I would
    have done in that siuation. Just today I bought a boy a Samosa at the
    train station and then they all came out of the woodwork. I probably
    shouldn't have bought for him because it wasn't fair to all the other
    boys. But we are only human right. So to sum up, we just don't give
    out of the fear that kids will be stuck begging if adults think they
    can make money off of them. But then again there are many poor
    families that really need the money and have to send the kids out to
    beg. It is hard and on our minds every day here in India. We are
    looking into charities to give a donation to.
    Sorry if it came off wrong, I really didn't mean for it to read that
    way, I was just our opinion.
    Dave and Deb
    Canada's Adventure Couple
    http://www.theplanetd.com
    theplanetd@gmail.com

  6. ShannonOD March 3, 2010 at 7:10 pm #

    Yikes, I feel properly chastised here Deb! You're right though. I fully
    realize that by giving when they threatened me I ensured that they would
    continue that same behavior with other tourists and perpetuate the cycle.
    It's such a tough decision when you're faced with these situations and just
    want to help out; I really admire that you and Dave are able to stick to
    your principles that strongly.

    • ShannonOD March 14, 2010 at 8:58 pm #

      Wow, that's incredibly insensitive of that man, it kind of leaves me
      speechless – you can really only account for your own actions I guess, but
      let's hope that perhaps if there's a miracle that he will gain a bit more
      perspective down the road.

  7. ShannonOD March 3, 2010 at 7:06 pm #

    Thanks for the thoughts Mary. Several of the other commentors have
    approached the situation with a similar strategy, of giving when it feels
    right, but opting for food whenever possible; I feel like this is a good
    compromise to the stronger perspective of straight-up never giving.

    • mina March 13, 2010 at 12:40 pm #

      We just visited a township, in Cape Town, where a middled aged man from the UK would take pictures of the children and then call them over and say (very condescendingly): “Here's some money, do you know what this is for? It's because I took your picture”. This same man told us that he was worried about going to the township because he didn't want them to think he was gawking at poor people. We were so disgusted by his behavior. They weren't even asking for anything. If the kids didn't know about begging/getting money from tourists, they do now. Alex and I typically don't give for several reasons already discussed here – but sometimes it's difficult and we cave.

  8. ShannonOD March 3, 2010 at 7:04 pm #

    Thanks for weighing in Arlene, I struggle with these same issues and it
    makes it hard to say no to them when you wonder if your $2 could make the
    difference of feeding them that evening…

  9. ShannonOD March 3, 2010 at 7:02 pm #

    I think my guilt from the situation stems from the fact that refraining from
    donating is wholly to discourage the begging…yet I gave when the kids were
    displaying particularly poor behavior…but I'm still fairly positive I
    would have done the same thing if I had it to redo… Thanks for weighing
    in! :-)

  10. ShannonOD March 3, 2010 at 7:00 pm #

    I like the perspective JoAnna, giving food is a good compromise so that you
    know that you are still genuinely helping, but not contributing as much to
    some of the issues that stem from putting cash into the hands of these kids
    and teaching them to beg from tourists. I'll definitely be opting for this
    tactic in situations where I feel compelled to give.

  11. ShannonOD March 3, 2010 at 6:58 pm #

    Thank you for such a detailed response Jackie! I am incredibly interested in
    checking out these books that you mentioned to learn more about the effects
    and ways to actually give without undermining what state and local
    governments are trying to accomplish. I had really never considered that
    side of the Oprah school situation, but it's interesting to contemplate the
    levels of change she could have affected by donating books across a region
    and bettering the educational level of a whole area…interesting, will have
    to read up on this more.

    As for the volunteering, I am exactly aligned with you on that, it's through
    volunteering at joining a community for several weeks that I was able to
    better understand how the community functioned and just what a benefit
    having someone on the ground and caring. And consider me properly chastised
    on the giving to beggars… :-)

  12. ShannonOD March 3, 2010 at 6:50 pm #

    I really completely agree with you Jason about having this deep want to just
    know that the money you are about to fork over is actually going to the
    benefit kids – but it's just impossible to have those assurances. I am
    probably more along your lines with the random situational
    giving…sometimes it just feels right or necessary :-)

  13. ShannonOD March 3, 2010 at 6:45 pm #

    You're very right Anil that circumstances play a huge role in it, if an
    adult had done it I would have been appalled, but for some reason I just
    sucked it up with the kids.

  14. ShannonOD March 3, 2010 at 6:43 pm #

    Thanks Kerry – it was a tough call…and you know, I still fully recognize
    that it reinforced their naughty behavior, but in the moment it can be tough
    to make those split second decisions! Thanks for weighing in on the
    discussion.

  15. ShannonOD March 3, 2010 at 6:39 pm #

    Thanks for weighing in Melvin. It's just such a tough question and I *know*
    that I shouldn't give but you're right, finding the local schools and
    donating to efforts that get kids off of the streets is probably one of the
    the best ways to navigate this tricky issue.

  16. ShannonOD March 3, 2010 at 6:24 pm #

    That's where I kind of get lenient too – if they're selling goods then
    they've made some attempt and it's not outright begging…but then again,
    perhaps that's just how I appease my guilty conscious. Thanks for your
    thoughts Kim.

  17. ShannonOD March 3, 2010 at 6:19 pm #

    You are so right Kyle that it perpetuates…in those moments though, it can
    be incredibly tricky; thanks for weighing in :-)

  18. DavenDeb March 3, 2010 at 3:53 am #

    Hard question for sure. We don't give to kids period, we believe that it doesn't help them and I would have never given if they threatened me! They will now do it again and again now that they got away with it. I understand how you feel though, seeing poverty is difficult and you want to help. But to threaten tourists, that is just bad.
    We sometimes break our rule of not giving when handicapped people are involved. It is just too sad. But I know that here in India, even the handicapped are exploited so we probably shouldn't give to them either. Too bad Angkor has gotten like that, the kids were so sweet when we were there in 2004. That is the result is of being given too much by tourists over the years I am afraid.

    • ShannonOD March 4, 2010 at 2:10 am #

      Yikes, I feel properly chastised here Deb! You're right though. I fully
      realize that by giving when they threatened me I ensured that they would
      continue that same behavior with other tourists and perpetuate the cycle.
      It's such a tough decision when you're faced with these situations and just
      want to help out; I really admire that you and Dave are able to stick to
      your principles that strongly.

      • DavenDeb March 4, 2010 at 10:16 am #

        I didn't mean to chastise you Shannon. Honest:-) I was just stating
        what we do. It is always a difficult choice and heartbreakig to see
        kids having to work rather than be in school. I was shocked with these
        kids though and feel that they need a good scolding for being bratty.
        I can understand being caught off guard though. Who knows what I would
        have done in that siuation. Just today I bought a boy a Samosa at the
        train station and then they all came out of the woodwork. I probably
        shouldn't have bought for him because it wasn't fair to all the other
        boys. But we are only human right. So to sum up, we just don't give
        out of the fear that kids will be stuck begging if adults think they
        can make money off of them. But then again there are many poor
        families that really need the money and have to send the kids out to
        beg. It is hard and on our minds every day here in India. We are
        looking into charities to give a donation to.
        Sorry if it came off wrong, I really didn't mean for it to read that
        way, I was just our opinion.
        Dave and Deb
        Canada's Adventure Couple
        http://www.theplanetd.com
        theplanetd@gmail.com

        • ShannonOD March 4, 2010 at 6:31 pm #

          Oh no worries Deb! I totally wasn't offended; I could just feel from your
          comment that it's something you feel passionately about :-) Def let us know
          on your blog if you find a good one to donate too, it's such a tough topic
          and I'd love to know of a good one :-)

  19. DavenDeb March 2, 2010 at 8:53 pm #

    Hard question for sure. We don't give to kids period, we believe that it doesn't help them and I would have never given if they threatened me! They will now do it again and again now that they got away with it. I understand how you feel though, seeing poverty is difficult and you want to help. But to threaten tourists, that is just bad.
    We sometimes break our rule of not giving when handicapped people are involved. It is just too sad. But I know that here in India, even the handicapped are exploited so we probably shouldn't give to them either. Too bad Angkor has gotten like that, the kids were so sweet when we were there in 2004. That is the result is of being given too much by tourists over the years I am afraid.

  20. Mary R March 2, 2010 at 6:29 am #

    I just wait and see how I feel at the time.

    I've been in lots of situations myself when simple assistance from someone made a big difference to me, so I try to help when I can.

    If I feel strong-armed or manipulated, I usually don't give money, as it encourages that kind of hassling behavior.

    But other times, I give freely when I don't feel pressured.

    • ShannonOD March 4, 2010 at 2:06 am #

      Thanks for the thoughts Mary. Several of the other commentors have
      approached the situation with a similar strategy, of giving when it feels
      right, but opting for food whenever possible; I feel like this is a good
      compromise to the stronger perspective of straight-up never giving.

  21. Arlene March 2, 2010 at 1:03 am #

    That is a tough call. On the one hand it is hard to say no to children. On the other, I don't do well when I am feeling threatened of forced to doing something that I don't want to do. If you are feeling threatened I would move on with my bike. Normally though even $2 to some of these kids is a lot of money to them and little to most of us.

    • ShannonOD March 4, 2010 at 2:04 am #

      Thanks for weighing in Arlene, I struggle with these same issues and it
      makes it hard to say no to them when you wonder if your $2 could make the
      difference of feeding them that evening…

  22. Mary R March 1, 2010 at 11:29 pm #

    I just wait and see how I feel at the time.

    I've been in lots of situations myself when simple assistance from someone made a big difference to me, so I try to help when I can.

    If I feel strong-armed or manipulated, I usually don't give money, as it encourages that kind of hassling behavior.

    But other times, I give freely when I don't feel pressured.

  23. Arlene March 1, 2010 at 6:03 pm #

    That is a tough call. On the one hand it is hard to say no to children. On the other, I don't do well when I am feeling threatened of forced to doing something that I don't want to do. If you are feeling threatened I would move on with my bike. Normally though even $2 to some of these kids is a lot of money to them and little to most of us.

    • ShannonOD March 4, 2010 at 11:31 am #

      Oh no worries Deb! I totally wasn't offended; I could just feel from your
      comment that it's something you feel passionately about :-) Def let us know
      on your blog if you find a good one to donate too, it's such a tough topic
      and I'd love to know of a good one :-)

  24. Gourmantic March 1, 2010 at 12:04 am #

    I don't believe in donating as it encourages more of the same behaviour and not everyone is open to the idea. I've never been threatened, I guess that would make it a different situation. I think your approach was wise.

    • ShannonOD March 4, 2010 at 2:02 am #

      I think my guilt from the situation stems from the fact that refraining from
      donating is wholly to discourage the begging…yet I gave when the kids were
      displaying particularly poor behavior…but I'm still fairly positive I
      would have done the same thing if I had it to redo… Thanks for weighing
      in! :-)

  25. Gourmantic February 28, 2010 at 5:04 pm #

    I don't believe in donating as it encourages more of the same behaviour and not everyone is open to the idea. I've never been threatened, I guess that would make it a different situation. I think your approach was wise.

  26. joanna_haugen February 26, 2010 at 10:34 pm #

    I always avoid giving kids money. When we lived in Kenya, we occasionally would “hire” a child to carry our propane tank to the matatu station, and then we would pay with fruit or bread, but we never gave money.

    It really is true that if you want to “help” street kids, you should donate to an organization that uses the money to help educate and care for the kids. But in the moment, I wouldn't give cash. It would be food or nothing to me.

    • ShannonOD March 4, 2010 at 2:00 am #

      I like the perspective JoAnna, giving food is a good compromise so that you
      know that you are still genuinely helping, but not contributing as much to
      some of the issues that stem from putting cash into the hands of these kids
      and teaching them to beg from tourists. I'll definitely be opting for this
      tactic in situations where I feel compelled to give.

  27. joanna_haugen February 26, 2010 at 3:34 pm #

    I always avoid giving kids money. When we lived in Kenya, we occasionally would “hire” a child to carry our propane tank to the matatu station, and then we would pay with fruit or bread, but we never gave money.

    It really is true that if you want to “help” street kids, you should donate to an organization that uses the money to help educate and care for the kids. But in the moment, I wouldn't give cash. It would be food or nothing to me.

  28. Jackie Rose (@letssitoutside) February 26, 2010 at 1:23 pm #

    I agree with Kyle, giving food is best but that's not always possible. I tend to volunteer when I travel so in Indonesia I lived at an orphanage for a bit, then at a free health clinic. Over time people would ask me about taking their children to the clinic instead of asking for money. Staying in one place for a bit and donating your time and energy can be very satisfying. I've found that once people know me in the community, they don't beg, and when I know I'm helping the community, I feel better about refusing to give to beggars.

    It's true, by giving to beggars, we just completely undermine whatever fragile state systems are in place. Even when people like Oprah donate their own school, they undermine the state systems. I'd prefer if she donated books to all the schools in one region, instead of building her own school and offering a select few students a better.education.

    Check out the book “Dead Aid” if you want to read a little more in-depth account of how foreign aid can hurt, not help other states. Or for a more loose-tongued account mixed with brilliant travel writing, read, “Dark Star Safari” by Paul Theroux.

    Great post! It's really nice to see a travel blogger tackle a problem that occurs a little further off the beaten path.

    Hope all is well.

    Jackie Rose

    • ShannonOD March 4, 2010 at 1:58 am #

      Thank you for such a detailed response Jackie! I am incredibly interested in
      checking out these books that you mentioned to learn more about the effects
      and ways to actually give without undermining what state and local
      governments are trying to accomplish. I had really never considered that
      side of the Oprah school situation, but it's interesting to contemplate the
      levels of change she could have affected by donating books across a region
      and bettering the educational level of a whole area…interesting, will have
      to read up on this more.

      As for the volunteering, I am exactly aligned with you on that, it's through
      volunteering at joining a community for several weeks that I was able to
      better understand how the community functioned and just what a benefit
      having someone on the ground and caring. And consider me properly chastised
      on the giving to beggars… :-)

  29. Anil February 26, 2010 at 12:09 pm #

    I stick to my rule of never giving money except in very rare circumstances it just hits me to do it. As for the threats, I might use the line above and say I'll buy them when I get back. Depends on the threat though, I've in the past escalated situations when I was threatened by adults begging for money. All depends on the circumstances.

    • ShannonOD March 4, 2010 at 1:45 am #

      You're very right Anil that circumstances play a huge role in it, if an
      adult had done it I would have been appalled, but for some reason I just
      sucked it up with the kids.

  30. Two Backpackers February 26, 2010 at 12:49 pm #

    We encounter these situations all the time, not the threats, but the dilemma of when to give and when not to give. We generally like to follow the practices you point out, but the truth is we only randomly apply them. Our decisions usually are unique to each situation. It's very difficult, because we have money and they don't. And you don't know if the kids are forced into this position or even benefit personally from any money we give. Aracely and I always talk about this… and we just wish we knew the true circumstance before we give, but that will never happen.

    • ShannonOD March 4, 2010 at 1:50 am #

      I really completely agree with you Jason about having this deep want to just
      know that the money you are about to fork over is actually going to the
      benefit kids – but it's just impossible to have those assurances. I am
      probably more along your lines with the random situational
      giving…sometimes it just feels right or necessary :-)

  31. Jackie Rose (@letssitoutside) February 26, 2010 at 6:23 am #

    I agree with Kyle, giving food is best but that's not always possible. I tend to volunteer when I travel so in Indonesia I lived at an orphanage for a bit, then at a free health clinic. Over time people would ask me about taking their children to the clinic instead of asking for money. Staying in one place for a bit and donating your time and energy can be very satisfying. I've found that once people know me in the community, they don't beg, and when I know I'm helping the community, I feel better about refusing to give to beggars.

    It's true, by giving to beggars, we just completely undermine whatever fragile state systems are in place. Even when people like Oprah donate their own school, they undermine the state systems. I'd prefer if she donated books to all the schools in one region, instead of building her own school and offering a select few students a better.education.

    Check out the book “Dead Aid” if you want to read a little more in-depth account of how foreign aid can hurt, not help other states. Or for a more loose-tongued account mixed with brilliant travel writing, read, “Dark Star Safari” by Paul Theroux.

    Great post! It's really nice to see a travel blogger tackle a problem that occurs a little further off the beaten path.

    Hope all is well.

    Jackie Rose

  32. Anil February 26, 2010 at 5:09 am #

    I stick to my rule of never giving money except in very rare circumstances it just hits me to do it. As for the threats, I might use the line above and say I'll buy them when I get back. Depends on the threat though, I've in the past escalated situations when I was threatened by adults begging for money. All depends on the circumstances.

  33. Two Backpackers February 26, 2010 at 5:49 am #

    We encounter these situations all the time, not the threats, but the dilemma of when to give and when not to give. We generally like to follow the practices you point out, but the truth is we only randomly apply them. Our decisions usually are unique to each situation. It's very difficult, because we have money and they don't. And you don't know if the kids are forced into this position or even benefit personally from any money we give. Aracely and I always talk about this… and we just wish we knew the true circumstance before we give, but that will never happen.

  34. kerryellend February 25, 2010 at 3:07 pm #

    I think that as much as we'd all like to be the great morally responsible traveller, no-one's perfect so, & especially when kids are involved, there will always be occassions when we give money or buy something. All you can do is try to follow your principles as often as possible and judge each situation as it arises. In your situation I reckon I'd have done the same as you did.

    • ShannonOD March 4, 2010 at 1:43 am #

      Thanks Kerry – it was a tough call…and you know, I still fully recognize
      that it reinforced their naughty behavior, but in the moment it can be tough
      to make those split second decisions! Thanks for weighing in on the
      discussion.

  35. Melvin February 25, 2010 at 2:41 pm #

    That is a tough discussion you've started here. Something similar happened when we were touring in Siem Reap on our bicycles. We should have bought something or the older brother would beaten us up. There was no older brother, but still… not very nice to threaten like that! :)

    I've learned not to give kids something or to buy from them, as that way they learn that they get successful when being on the streets. They should learn to get something in school, so if we want to do any good, we should give it to kids at school. But what if kids can't afford to go school, like how it is often in Cambodia???? Tough one!

    • ShannonOD March 4, 2010 at 1:39 am #

      Thanks for weighing in Melvin. It's just such a tough question and I *know*
      that I shouldn't give but you're right, finding the local schools and
      donating to efforts that get kids off of the streets is probably one of the
      the best ways to navigate this tricky issue.

  36. Kim February 25, 2010 at 2:30 pm #

    It is really difficult. In the case of the threat, I would say – “okay – if my bicycles are still here when I'm back then I'll buy a bracelet”. If they don't agree, then move the bikes elsewhere. The 'threat' element is where they went wrong and giving in means that they'll use it again and again. Purchasing bracelets is not the same as giving money for nothing. They have gone to the effort (little that it may be) to actually “provide” something. $2 is not a great deal of money (and still doesn't mean that they live like royalty anyways).

    • ShannonOD March 4, 2010 at 1:24 am #

      That's where I kind of get lenient too – if they're selling goods then
      they've made some attempt and it's not outright begging…but then again,
      perhaps that's just how I appease my guilty conscious. Thanks for your
      thoughts Kim.

  37. Kyle Crum February 25, 2010 at 1:59 pm #

    I think it's best to give things like food if you can. I fear that giving money only perpetuates the problem, unfortunately. It's still heart-wrenching every time, though, so it's completely understandable when you do give kids money.

    • ShannonOD March 4, 2010 at 1:19 am #

      You are so right Kyle that it perpetuates…in those moments though, it can
      be incredibly tricky; thanks for weighing in :-)

  38. kerryellend February 25, 2010 at 8:07 am #

    I think that as much as we'd all like to be the great morally responsible traveller, no-one's perfect so, & especially when kids are involved, there will always be occassions when we give money or buy something. All you can do is try to follow your principles as often as possible and judge each situation as it arises. In your situation I reckon I'd have done the same as you did.

  39. Melvin February 25, 2010 at 7:41 am #

    That is a tough discussion you've started here. Something similar happened when we were touring in Siem Reap on our bicycles. We should have bought something or the older brother would beaten us up. There was no older brother, but still… not very nice to threaten like that! :)

    I've learned not to give kids something or to buy from them, as that way they learn that they get successful when being on the streets. They should learn to get something in school, so if we want to do any good, we should give it to kids at school. But what if kids can't afford to go school, like how it is often in Cambodia???? Tough one!

  40. Kim February 25, 2010 at 7:30 am #

    It is really difficult. In the case of the threat, I would say – “okay – if my bicycles are still here when I'm back then I'll buy a bracelet”. If they don't agree, then move the bikes elsewhere. The 'threat' element is where they went wrong and giving in means that they'll use it again and again. Purchasing bracelets is not the same as giving money for nothing. They have gone to the effort (little that it may be) to actually “provide” something. $2 is not a great deal of money (and still doesn't mean that they live like royalty anyways).

  41. kyle_crum February 25, 2010 at 6:59 am #

    I think it's best to give things like food if you can. I fear that giving money only perpetuates the problem, unfortunately. It's still heart-wrenching every time, though, so it's completely understandable when you do give kids money.

Share your thoughts!

%d bloggers like this: