best gifts to bring to foreign countries?

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best gifts to bring to foreign countries?

Postby retireme » Thu Jul 19, 2007 3:14 pm

hi there.
i have been thinking of putting together some small packages to bring with me when i go to africa. i was thinking some t-shirts, paper, pens, balloons. no candies or food.

does anyone have good suggestions about what items are most important or best to bring to give to children, families, etc?
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Postby thecakeisalie » Thu Jul 19, 2007 3:59 pm

If you're going to Kenya, bring some Barack Obama buttons. I only wish I were kidding.

For the kids, sports apparell (or other memorabilia) always goes over well. I'm from Chicago, so a good way to bridge the gap is always a conversation about Michael Jordan. One kid wanted to trade some handicrafts for my Cubs hat. As there are some things that are too valuable to trade, I ended up paying for the trinkets. :D

Honestly, any clothes you donate will be appreciated, even if they are old and abused, and especially if they are men's clothes. I was told that since women tend to buy clothes more frequently than men, they also get rid of it faster, so its no surprise that the ratio of womens to mens clothes in the charity bin is about 7 to 1. If you're a male, think about how often you get rid of pants and its not hard to imagine why they are so high in demand at the good will offering. I even gave a local worker my gym shoes (scraped, worn and trodden through several continents, mind you) because he was chopping rocks with an axe in the equivalent of sandals. Thinking I had saved his feet from torment, I was then told he would most likely bring my shoes home and wear them as his "dress shoes", and show up for work tomorrow in the same toe-less foot pads he was wearing today!
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Postby shire » Thu Jul 19, 2007 5:06 pm

School supplies are always needed; soccer balls, basketballs, etc.; as in previous post, sports/gym shoes are in great demand for girls and boys(men and women). Baby items - bottles, creams, powders.
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Postby ballu » Thu Jul 19, 2007 5:18 pm

I gave a friend of mine some frisbees for the kids in the orphanage she was volunteering at. She said they loved them, and they're flat so they wouldn't take up much room in luggage.
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Postby shire » Thu Jul 19, 2007 11:54 pm

I love the frisbe idea! We're leaving for Kenya in Aug. and will be taking along a few. Thanks!
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Postby Hadleycat » Mon Jul 30, 2007 8:41 pm

I left a frisbee with the kids in a Masai village. The one little guy didn't seemed to be to into it. Or maybe he just didn't get the idea. We tried to show him. So I am not sure if the kids are using it or it has become a dish for their goats. lol. I hope they did eventually use it.....
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Postby liveinthemoment » Tue Sep 04, 2007 10:28 am

im bringing school supplies as well as toothbrushes/toothpaste that type of stuff.
they also appreciate soccer balls, old clothes etc.

i will be traveling to africa and all of these items are needed there, its just difficult to purchase some of these things.

if you bring candy or food just be aware of crowd control. i heard it can be a challenge.

all the best :)
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Postby Tall Paul » Thu Oct 18, 2007 12:20 pm


In Africa, the kids love the pens. I always distribute the pens to their mothers, though, to ensure the pens are cared for and shared properly.

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Postby thetravelingbee » Sat Dec 15, 2007 10:51 pm

My friend and I have been to a few third world countries and have taken the kids balloons, pens, pencils, erasers, markers, coloring books... Pretty much anything you can find for kids. It doesn't take much, and they really love it. See my pics below:
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Responsible Travel

Postby Nepal_Himalaya » Wed Dec 19, 2007 12:31 am

Hi Guys!

Be careful though. Give those items to rational ones, to the school, charity. Sometimes kids put themselves in begging habits. Not really a kid in need would get stuffs, rather a professional beggers.
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Postby Jo-Anne » Fri Jan 25, 2008 1:47 pm

My husband went to Mali last year. We purchased rulers, pencils, sharpeners, and erasers, he then visited one of the local schools and gave the supplies to the teacher, who was very appreciative. He also took some hacki sacks, playing cards, and some girls hair jewellery which he gave directly to the kids. The year we went to peru, we also took school supplies, and left some at a school, the remainder we left with the family we stayed at for the home stay, however the best reaction was another couple on the trip, purchased alot of fresh fruit, and gave this to the children, in a very poor village. The smiles are their faces was priceless.
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Postby Zuleika » Tue Mar 18, 2008 6:14 pm

Its brilliant to donate all these things, however, be wise as to what/how you are doing it. In some countries - Kenya in particular the children have learnt that the tourist trucks have goodies and the blatant begging and grabbing, is frankly awful - and this is all 'our' - as westerners - fault as we have encouraged it.
It is far far better to give the supplies to a teacher or adult who can take responsibilty for the equal and fair distribution amongst the kids.

DO NOT give sweets - it is rotting the kids teeth! Also I saw on several occasions it give way to a mob frenzy amongst the kids and become quite frightening.

In Uganda which is much less touristy, there is no begging (yet) and i hope it stays this way! The children are calm, respectful and totally wonderful. By this time I was experienced enough to know to give all my supplies to a teacher.
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Re: best gifts to bring to foreign countries?

Postby hiker69 » Fri Oct 09, 2009 8:41 am

I think of the way all these presents are disposed with. In the real poor villages only organic stuff can get away, no disposal for plastic. Therefore I take only crayons, and paper for schools, and never balloons, pens, etc. Whatever you bring, think of the waste it creates. It is also possible to ask the Principle of a school what their needs are, and donate specificly.
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Re: best gifts to bring to foreign countries?

Postby jimshu » Tue Feb 01, 2011 3:43 pm

Been some good suggestions on this thread. Glad to see posters stressing take and give to schools/orphanges rather than encouraging begging by handingout directly to kids.
We've been discussing giving out balloons in another thread but personally I can't recommend that because theyall bust and strewn on the ground within 10 minutes.
I'll be picking up on some of the suggestions in this thread as I'm preparing an article for publication on this subject so thanks for the tips.
I just posted the following on that thread. I thought some of it relevant here.
Just been discussing this on another forum. Concensus is, to buy locally the following if you can, and give to schools, parents, village elders, not directly to kids.
Plus most CEO's, or tour leaders will know of, or be actively supporting a school/orphanage, and although you may not have time to visit yourself, he/she can arrange for such goods to be distributed.
Suggestions here- (they discourage balloons and plastic pens as once busted/used get thrown on the ground.Biodegradeable if possible.)

School supplies. Pencils, chalk, or crayons are preferable to plastic felt pens, to minimize plastic discarded in the environment.

Soccer balls, hula hoops, cricket, or baseball sets, frisbees (you'll need to show them how.)

Clothes. Second hand or purpose bought. Even those you may discard on your travels.

Jandals or thongs. Or basic cheap plastic sandals, adjustable preferably. In many countries you can buy these cheaply locally

Lots of hugs and cuddles. Play games with them.

Buying locally if you can,means your money works better for the local community, by supporting local traders, rather than working against them.
I know a well meaning local girl here, collected a container load of clothes, bicycles, toys etc, shipped it up to India. Was going to take massive bribes and hassles to get it through customs etc there, because of the effect all those items would have on the village traders whose bread would be taken out of their mouths because some do-gooder arrives up with the latest consignment from the 'cargo-cult gods.
I cautioned her at the outset to fund raise for money to take up there, to then spend with the village traders, but she wouldn't listen to me. Ended up the container she never uplifted, and all the goods raided and distributed to traders elsewhere. All her effort wasted for the village she supported. Sorry it's off track, but the balloon issue is symbolic of how we often do not truly appreciate, that our wish to give to see a smile on a kids face, is often misplaced.
Take a tennis ball, find a stick, have a game, you'll get lots more smiles .
BTW, I have seen kids cry when their beautiful new balloon toy busts... a momentary pleasure replaced with tears.
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Re: best gifts to bring to foreign countries?

Postby fransis » Mon Sep 05, 2011 6:50 am

Best presents are those that remind about the particular country from which they were brought and if they are hand made they are perfect , i think :D They have the spirit and character of the country
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