Why I Never Give to the Beggars and Why Neither Should You

As you travel through the third world countries, you will encounter beggars a lot. As a budget traveller who’s on the tour around the world, I have to spend wisely and giving away may in return put me in a position of a hungry and a lost. Furthermore, beggars who sell trinkets of no value on a pretense of working so they don’t have to beg are a no no for someone like me as well. If you move from place to place and none is your long stay home, you carry all you have with you. In such cases there is simply no room for anything that’s not essential. But none of these are main reasons why I never give to the beggars and why neither should you.

Who Are the Beggars?

When you set foot in third world countries, you will notice that beggars are always people who are intensely difficult to say no to: children, old people, visibly disabled, etc. It is not unusual to see a 7 year old boy carrying his 2 year old little sister with big, beaming eyes locked on your food in his arms. He would gently tap you while you’re lavishing on your breakfast and would make a movement with his available hand to simulate the food putting in his mouth. He will bear a very sad face, often with cheeks visibly marked with tears and his little sister will add to it by delivering the look of a completely innocent, yet hungry child. How do you say no to that?

And that’s exactly it – “how do you say no to that?” People who send those kids after tourists to beg them out of money realize that it is near impossible to say no to children like that. That’s why they send them and don’t go begging themselves. Children are easy to exploit and so are old and visibly disabled people. When you see an old person who should be enjoying their retirement after whole life of hard work, but instead looks in bad shape, underfed, dirty wearing worn out clothes, you can’t help but feel sorry and willing to help. But sadly, more often than not, they are out there because their looks are so striking, they are more likely to succeed. And are easy to force into begging.

It is the same with visibly disabled people. When you see a person with both arms missing and a sign hung on his neck stating that he has no chance at getting a job being disabled in a country with extremely high unemployment, you can easily relate and feel sorry for the person. Fact is, they scarcely have easy lives no matter where they live, but their custom tailored “sales copy” with which they appeal to you clearly shows how well they are prepared for begging and how well polished their begging methods are.

Fact of a matter is, it’s always people who are strikingly difficult to resist because their looks will touch the soft spot of even the toughest of persons who go out begging. That fact itself should raise alarms and say a lot about how easy these people could be potentially exploited or abused to benefit from their misfortunes.

Things Beggars Say

There are certain things beggars like to say. They are in it for one and only reason – to get as much money out of other people as possible. This is their sole purpose and they are ready and willing to do/say whatever it takes to ensure maximum efficiency of their “performance”. They know darn well that if they said that they are only begging because their parents told them they would not buy them new bicycle unless they bring in $20 a day, it may not tarnish desired results. Hence they will say whatever appears to work the best, whatever appears to deliver results (make most people give most money). To say what they want to hear, instead of what you want to say is a known and safe method to achieve a goal not only among beggars, but also among many other professions.

When a lawyer makes closing speech before the members of jury, he/she will focus on highlighting things he/she believes will have the strongest impact on this particular set up of jurors. Picking up right lines to say is the key between winning or losing the case. And it’s no different with begging. Whether and how much is a beggar going to get from any particular person depends on what he/she says and how well he/she presents him/herself. Similarly, when hamburger company chooses the lines for their TV advertising, they will say what is most likely to get people to buy their hamburgers. They won’t base their sales pitch on how much MSG is stuffed in each patty or that occasional rats make it to the grinder where their patties are mass produced. No. They will say whatever is most likely to make your fat ass to get off the chair and buy one.

It is no different with beggars. Polished from talking to hundreds, maybe thousands of people each month, they already know what works the best and can even assess what would work best with which person. Believing that a sob story presented to you is true would be rather foolish. While some may be based on the truth, always keep in mind that beggars solely and strictly say what is most likely to yield best results (aka make you give them cash).

Why Giving to the Beggars Causes More Harm Than Good

The more easy money the beggars get, the more encouraged they will be to continue begging. If begging remains a profitable venture, why would they even consider trying something else? Parents will continue forcing their children onto the streets and pimps will continue exploiting the weak and disabled onto the same.

What To Do If You DO Have Money to Spare and Wish to Help Regardless?

The best thing to do is to take your funds to a charity with good track record of helping people in need. Local charities should have it down and know the people who really need help and also know those who just exploit children and disabled. This would distribute your contributions effectively and would target those you intend to target.

If you can’t help the urge and feel sincere need to help a beggar on the spot, buy them food or give them the rest of what you were eating when they approached you. Avoid giving them money or anything that has monetary value and can be taken to a pawn shop to sell. If you truly believe they are poor and need help, then there is nothing more important for them than good meal. Even inexpensive fruit would do the trick as it’s a tasty and nutritious snack. If you do give them money, they may not even get food as a result. Pimps could be watching from a car nearby and beggars would know it.

Don’t encourage begging and abuse by the pimps and parents. Don’t give beggars any money. You best not give anything to get these people off the streets because when there is no money to be made begging, no one will beg.

Donating a Car to the Kidney Foundation of Canada

I had one last item I needed to donate – my car. I didn’t want to sweat over how to go about donating my car too much, so I contacted the charity I knew accepted car donations – The Kidney Foundation of Canada. I’ve never had any dealings with the Kidney Foundation of Canada before, but they advertise the fact that they accept car donations on the radio all the time so any driver in Edmonton would have heard of them. Plus I was well aware of how painful and debilitating kidney disease is so donating a car to the kidney foundation seemed like the right path to go. Hopefully my contribution helped someone suffering from kidney problems.

Photo: 1997 Chrysler Cirrus, The Car I Have Donated to the Kidney Foundation of Canada
Photo: 1997 Chrysler Cirrus, The Car I Have Donated to the Kidney Foundation of Canada

The process of Donating a Car to the Kidney Foundation of Canada was fairly simple. I’ve looked up their website address on the internet and checked out the means to contact them about car donations. Since they advertise the fact that they seek car donations all over the radio, there was a hotlink right on their front page where anyone interested in making a car donation could go for further details. This page is located on http://www.kidney.ca/Page.aspx?pid=419.

The “Donate a Car” page contained a hotlink to a Kidney Car Hotline page where I looked up the phone number to call in Edmonton. I called the number (1-780-453-2288) and told them I had a 1997 Chrysler Cirrus in decent shape I wanted to donate but had no means of towing so, I told them where it was parked, provided them with my cell phone number and advised them on what the best time of day was to get a hold of me. The agent on the other end of the line took all the info and said a tow truck would come tonight to get the car.

Stupidly enough, the tow truck never showed up. This was a really low blow on behalf of the Kidney Foundation of Canada but since it was late afternoon, I figured that perhaps something got in the way and they were not able to secure a tow truck for the day. They knew I worked until 4pm and would get home by about 4.30 so I thought they were gonna make solid arrangements and will come to get it the day after. But it never happened again. At that time I was only a few days away from my departure to Siem Reap so I didn’t find this mess very cool. First of all, I was donating my car to them so I thought they would be more appreciative and would meet me half way with efforts to try to accommodate my schedule and work around it. But most of all, I didn’t make any other arrangements, should the donation to the Kidney Foundation of Canada fail, so if they didn’t pick it up before my departure, I’d be screwed.

The car was parked at the parking spot behind the apartment building where I was staying, but because I left the notice that I was gonna leave at the end of August, it automatically meant that I would also have to remove my automobile from the parking lot as well. Apartment buildings often provide you with parking space for your car if you live there and pay rent (sometimes parking is extra, in my case it wasn’t). But as soon as you move out, you have to take your car with you as you are no longer a resident on the premises and have no right to continue using their private parking space.

I really needed the Kidney Foundation of Canada to quit acting up and start being more responsible with people’s donations. I phoned them up again and sounding a bit frustrated, I wanted to know why after two days they still have not sent the tow truck like they promised. I think I’ve heated up enough water for the agent I spoke with to take the matter in firm hands, put me on hold, make solid arrangements and get back to me confirming that the truck will be there tonight for sure.

Luckily, the truck did show up. Once the truck was there, it was just a matter of minutes to get my car hooked up and before I could blink, my old wheels that kept me reliably mobile for almost a decade were gone out of my life for good. It was an old car. Trying to sell it would be way more a headache that it’s worth so donating it was definitely a good idea. I’d probably get a couple of hundred bucks at best if I were to sell it, but would waste tons of my precious time and the hassle might not be over after ownership has been transferred. Some people think that cars they paid $300 for should run like new ones worth $20,000. I could already imagine new owner calling me to ask why the air conditioning doesn’t cool the cabin down fast enough… Do I have the time and nerve to deal with that type of crap? Hell no. Donating a Car to the Kidney Foundation of Canada was definitely the best decision I could have made. Once I had it off my back, I was free from the biggest material thing I had owned. The real freedom was just around the corner.