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An Argument For Giving to Beggars

An Argument For Giving to Beggars
Scott Graham
Summarized from Handle with Care: a guide to responsible travel in developing countries by Scott Graham ($8-95, Noble Press, 1991, ISBN 1 879360 06 3)

Most travelers, myself included, choose to give to beggars selectively. Since begging is an integral part of life in many developing countries, I see refusing to give to beggars as tantamount to refusing to become involved in the local culture. In addition, I agree that I am quite wealthy compared to the majority of citizens in the developing world, and should do what I can to share some of my wealth with the least fortunate in the land I’m visiting. However, I believe giving to beggars, especially impressionable children, indiscriminately, is harmful.

If you decide to give to beggars selectively, you face another difficult question: How do you decide who should receive your charity and who shouldn’t? Many travelers, myself included, have no qualms about giving to handicapped and elderly beggars. Since developing countries rarely provide the underprivileged with the type of social assistance common in industrialized nations, citizens too old or inform to work often have no choice but to beg. I am especially comfortable joining locals in giving to handicapped and elderly beggars gathered near places of worship. Many beggars congregate at such places to collect offerings from the devout seeking to buy themselves or loved ones heavenly favor, as their religions teach, by bestowing benevolence on the less fortunate.



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  2. Transforming Third World begging

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