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Dealing With the Underprivileged—Keeping Each Other’s Dignity

Mexico (116)


This article:

  • discusses the plight of begging
  • how people can be overly naive in these situations
  • how people can be overly hard in these situations
  • the balance we should find

Nothing pulls on the heart-strings more than a plea from one in need. Children especially wanting something from you is hard. How can you say no? Have a heart, will ya?

Unfortunately, usually things are not what they seem when beggars are involved. Maybe you’ve even seen ones in your home country asking for bus fare because this-or-that happened to them and they need to get home, only to see them doing it again, and again, day after day. One expensive bus ticket!

My brother out of his kind heart bought a McDonald’s meal for a homeless man nearby, only to pass the area much later in the day, seeing the bag still unopened.

Worldwide, begging can be a lucrative business, and is a common way to support a drug or alcohol addiction. I remember a man who came onto the subway in Mexico City on a regular basis, showing his child’s medical papers and the need for treatment. I saw him month upon month, far after the supposed procedure needed to be done. The more dismal they portray their situation, the more they prey on sympathetic people who take pity on them.

The disgusting thing about this plague, is that there are people who are needy, are not lying about their story, are not paying for rights to beg in an area and sharing proceeds, and aren’t addicts. The amount surely must be few.

A friend in Mozambique was traveling with a man who had been in the country for over 20 years and gave to a begging man for the first time ever; because that was the first time he actually believed the story given.

Uganda (14)

Another friend called the bluff on a “blind” man.

Another friend had a woman ask for money for a bus, thought she was legit, but honestly had no cash to give her. How indignant he was to see minutes later, a car come to pick her up to try that tactic somewhere else! He claims, even in Canada, that there is a union of beggars. He’s seen a woman at her post habitually on a certain day for specific hours, and then she’s replaced by another woman for two weeks. Paid vacation? How it works exactly, I don’t know. The most amusing are the ones who have a sign that say: “Why lie? I need money for drugs” or “booze.”

So be discerning. In all likelihood, they are not as they seem. So firmly decline, or avert their attention, but do not be rude. If they are what they seem, how sad they will feel. If they are impostors, your rudeness will only callous them more to rip people off. All people deserve their dignity, and your compassion, albeit reserved, should sting the conscience of one hiding what they are.

Uganda (15)

Children are usually working for someone else, usually someone unsavory. Giving money- even candy will make them expect that of any foreigner they see, and encourage a dismal life course. Yes, your choices in these situations can have more ramifications than you may think. What bad can a fiver do for them? What harm could there be? Harm indeed, on both sides.

If you perceive someone as truly needy, think how you can actually help. Can you accompany them to the doctor? If they refuse, their gig is up! Not to make this a blanket statement, but in most cases, giving money or an item that can be resold should not be given. Even baby formula from a mother is resold! Share a meal with them. But how sad a world it is, that  finding a truly needy beggar is a rarity. Many genuinely underprivileged try other means to provide for themselves. How it would cut them to be looked upon as a liar along with everyone else.

Begging is especially common  in big cities, most of it being people looking for easy money.

Keep your heart, but keep your mind too.

Mexico (125)

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