Don't handout to the children, please!

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Don't handout to the children, please!

Postby jimshu » Sat Sep 05, 2009 12:42 pm

20 km outside Kamanjab, Namibia, a local guy has set up an authentic village for Himba tribespeople from further north, so as to provide them with a lifestyle assisting on the farm, and a place to raise their sheep and goats.Jaco is married to a Himba ,and they have 'adopted' several children from their northern tribe, who have lost their parents through AIDS, or alcoholism.This venture has been backed by the owhers of Oase Garni Guesthouse, Kamanjab we understand.
And guests there are offered an opprtunity to visit the village.Upon booking we were given a leaflet of what to do and what to take for the children and the village.It spelt out NOT to take anything for them.Your contribution is included in the tour cost.
WHY?Because Oase and Jaco and the village elders do not want tourists arriving up there, handing out sweets and plastic toys to the kids, and teaching them to stick their hands out and beg.To preserve their culture, they do not want their kids to grow up begging.

Anyway we booked.Drove out there.Through the gate, and came across a group of 5 of around 5-7 years of age...who all ran up to our car begging, yelling and banging on our doors.Remembering the advice we slowly travelled on with a cheery wave at them.
Next minute, they angrily yelled at us and several large rocks headed in our direction!

So we pointed out what happened to the guard at the meeting point gate.He told two Himba girls who were meeting us.So when those kids walked up, did they ever get their backsides walloped!.

Well blow me down when the Nomad Tour party arrived up to join us on the village tour, and everyone was carrying junk toys and bags of sweets!And did those same kids rush up and start grabbing those sweets out of their hands.Yep.Sure did.

And yes, we watched in dismay at this dismantling of tribal culture,by unthinking tourists, and a poorly informed tour guide.He'd obviously told his group to bring gifts for the kids, because all their plastic bags were from the same shop.
And 10 minutes later, all those plastic balloons were burst, the cheap plastic toys broken and plastic littered their village.And what does a kid who plays in the dirt want with a cheap miniature car anyway?

No wonder those kids vented anger at us, because others had taught them that we tourists bring them gifts.
We related our experience to the owners of Oase.She'll be taking the matter up with that tour company.
So we don't take anything for kids when we travel, apart from smiles and a cuddle.But we do take kids books, school materials,etc, and we do give those to the schools.
The newly opened Bushman school at Namibian Wildlife Sanctuary now has 6 books more!And none of those kids had their hands out.......
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Re: Don't handout to the children, please!

Postby Zuleika » Sat Sep 05, 2009 1:15 pm

Well said Jimshu, well said indeed. This is exactly how I found Kenya to be a few years back and i thought it was just awful then.
Uganda however hadnt (yet?) been spoilt in this way. We made sure to give our gifts to the school teacher.

Spread the word!
And the tour companies have a lot of responsibilty to inform their customers that this is wrong too, as a lot of travellers dont know that it is actually ruining the culture. indeed, I didnt when i first went.
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Re: Don't handout to the children, please!

Postby sinecure » Sat Sep 05, 2009 1:44 pm

We saw the very same thing in Cuba when we took a private tour. they drove us down a narrow street that was well planned so that all the kids could stop our jeep and milk what ever they could from the tourists.

Our jeep was one of the few that didn't have anything for the begging kids.
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Re: Don't handout to the children, please!

Postby DanielBMe » Sun Sep 06, 2009 8:59 pm

Hey Jim, what trip did you just do? I thought you were going to South Africa for a tour of the battlefields? Did you go already?
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Re: Don't handout to the children, please!

Postby jimshu » Sun Sep 06, 2009 9:39 pm

Been ,and back recovering from jetlag!
I'm going to post about it but got delayed because I've been researching Polar temperatures...:-)Haha.
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Re: Don't handout to the children, please!

Postby Zuleika » Mon Sep 07, 2009 2:09 pm

ahhh - thought you had been on the quiet side recently Jimshu. Looking forward to the trip report.
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Re: Don't handout to the children, please!

Postby jimshu » Mon Sep 07, 2009 4:15 pm

Me quiet?
Yeah I'll get around to it.But it's going to be a long one.A 42 day 3 phase style trip.Probably longer than my tree observation post :-)
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Re: Don't handout to the children, please!

Postby kellygreen » Tue Sep 08, 2009 10:21 am

I was recently volunteering for Planeterra's booth at the LiveGreen Toronto Show in Toronto and a woman came up to us and told us how she just loves to go handing out sweets and toys in the slums of different countries...I sort of cringed and suggested that maybe she look for a local organization to help out that reaches out to children through education or provision of basic needs, etc.

She said "oh those organizations just take everything", and she'd rather see the kids' smiles and interact with them herself. I think this might be the single-most important issue in tourism to poor areas, or tourism that aims to "give back". Tourists want that feel-good experience...and they don't seem to care (or know) if it's taking a toll on the fabric of the particular community they're visiting.

I think tour operators definitely have to take the responsibility to find the balance and educate the tourists, it's the only chance the visited communities have in keeping that type of behaviour in control.
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Re: Don't handout to the children, please!

Postby jimshu » Tue Sep 08, 2009 4:12 pm

Yes agree Kelly.
Next time just ask her if she's prepared to pay the kids rotting teeth dentistry bills, .....because they can't.
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Re: Don't handout to the children, please!

Postby RichieRich » Wed Sep 09, 2009 9:17 am

Excellent thread! I just returned from Peru and to my surprise, I did not experience children begging for toys or candy. Our guides told us not to give to begging children because it just creates a vicious cycle for future begging. Instead give to a local school.

I guess as a secondary option you can give to the parents... does that make sense?

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Re: Don't handout to the children, please!

Postby zezinho » Thu Sep 24, 2009 11:57 pm

I live in the favela (slum) of Rocinha in Brazil and prefer if people to bring anything to bring art supplies or school materials as this is what the kids NEED, not toy or candy!

Thank you!

:)

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Re: Don't handout to the children, please!

Postby electrakate » Sat Feb 27, 2010 5:13 pm

kellygreen wrote:She said "oh those organizations just take everything", and she'd rather see the kids' smiles and interact with them herself. I think this might be the single-most important issue in tourism to poor areas, or tourism that aims to "give back". Tourists want that feel-good experience...and they don't seem to care (or know) if it's taking a toll on the fabric of the particular community they're visiting.


Seems to me this lady's need to see the smiles of the kids is awfully selfish. I know she thinks she's doing a good thing, but when it comes down to it, she's really just thinking of herself - she's giving to get. So sad.
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Re: Don't handout to the children, please!

Postby IncaTrail50 » Mon Mar 22, 2010 8:24 pm

One of my cousins helped start and sponsor a number of pre-primary schools in Tanzania, mainly for children of the Maasai. He and his wife, a teacher, started with one school but the need was so great that it's expanded. They initially had trouble with attendance because the little four-year-olds were afraid to walk alone through lion country to reach the school! They also had to start a breakfast program because the kids were arriving hungry. He and his wife have scoured Canada trying to find appropriate learning materials, then there's the cost of shipping, etc. I shudder to think of the candies and plastic toys people bring. Imagine what that same money could do for a school like this. I'm including a link to the school website. It's quite inspirational...two people making a difference. There's a very detailed "Financial Information" page showing how much everything costs. It's worth reading if you have a chance...or taking a donation if you go!
http://www.osotwa.org/
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Re: Don't handout to the children, please!

Postby georginal » Fri Jan 28, 2011 2:07 pm

I thought one of our local guides in Malawi made a very good point. He told us that when we saw children begging, particularly for money, he advised us to say something like, "but you should go to school. Then, when you have finished school, you can go and earn some money."

After all, if a child can go out on the street beg and make money, (or get candy, or whatever else) why bother going to school??

We all know its a bit more complicated than that, but it atempts to get a message over.
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Re: Don't handout to the children, please!

Postby JaliscoJudy » Sat Jan 29, 2011 10:01 am

georginal wrote:I thought one of our local guides in Malawi made a very good point. He told us that when we saw children begging, particularly for money, he advised us to say something like, "but you should go to school. Then, when you have finished school, you can go and earn some money."

After all, if a child can go out on the street beg and make money, (or get candy, or whatever else) why bother going to school??

We all know its a bit more complicated than that, but it atempts to get a message over.


And, many of the childred are exploited by their parents because parents know that people will give more money to children. They keep their children out of school and put them to work begging or selling gum or souvenirs. Old or disabled people are also put on the street to beg by their families.

I never give kids money for begging, but I sometimes buy their wares. (Juicy Fruit anyone?) I always tip musicians and performers. I usually give old or disabled people money but sometimes I buy them lunch instead. A coin doesn't do much to change the glassy stare of most beggars. (The money, I suspect, must be handed over to the head of the family at the end of the day.) Food, however, always brings a big smile to their faces.

I really don't know the answer, but it's something we really need to consider carefully when we travel. I've read many good ideas here at the Watering Hole about how to contribute to poor communities. My personal favorite is to give money or supplies directly to the schools -- not to individual kids. Giving directly makes us feel good, but the indirect support is more long lasting and helps more children get what they really need as determined by the cultural standards of their communities.
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