Beg to the Foreigners: A Tourism Phenomenon

Travelers, please do not give your money to beggars. Just don’t. It may just be your first time seeing children and amputee on the street out to get what little scraps of money they could get during the traffic light. Chances are, you won’t stay in that country long enough to learn of the truth. Especially if you’re only on a two-week vacation in Vietnam.

Truth is, the beggars’ mafia is everywhere

Literally everywhere. Any developing countries, any countries, have some form of it. Some are blatant and starkly obvious, some are disguised the form of a non-profit organization asking for donations. Yes, donation scam is still very common in countries of Southeast Asia. Point is, this whole beggar business is truly what it is—a business. One that is run by cruel individuals that take advantage of the children to ignite your sympathy. As a Westerner who had just stepped foot to Southeast Asian roads and saw the many people begging,

By giving to the beggars, you’re merely perpetuating the begging cycle

Begging is easy. And as with anything that is easy, people who have done it are prone to do it again. Of course they will. It yields rewards in its most tangible form; money! Imagine it would be difficult to give up the habit of such. And in this case, it’s not even a habit. It’s a beggar organization. So, no. You’re not actually helping anyone. Your main objective to give people is likely to help them. Not to encourage them to beg for the rest of their lives. By giving people your money simply because they beg for it, you’re merely perpetuating the bad cycle. And it’s not a secret that these beggars like to beg to people who are foreign-looking.

But they are just children!

Children are a popular means to an end to the beggar mafia. That much is obvious to people who live in the country and see them every day. These days on the streets, the people you’d most often see begging, are children. Especially in places like in developing countries. They are told to beg.

The problem of beggars is a complex one to tackle

This isn’t merely the issue with people spending money on drugs. Unlike what is often the case in Western countries. People in Southeast Asia are suffering and have very little means of making it day to day. Some of them decided to beg. Some of them got exploited by the beggar mafias to do their deeds. There are countless corners of the world where you can find heartbreaking scenes of begging amputee and outrageously skinny children begging for money.

This is an issue that needs to be tackled through all levels of society. It’s primarily that country’s government’s jobs to make it right. However, you can certainly help. There are plenty of ways for you to contribute to the issue without resorting to giving some penny to the pitiful-looking. From donating your money to a trustworthy institution to traveling to conduct research, volunteering, teaching, and many more, you may be able to make these people’s lives better.