I call this desperate hope. In Siem Reap, Cambodia, home to Angkor Wat temples, we were hounded by beggars everywhere, especially child beggars. Begging, pleading for “just a dollar, pleeeeeeeeeeees”
Even on the water, when getting a tour of the lake Tonle Sap, beggars paddled right up, hoping to tap into sympathy.
This next photo makes me smile. By no means a good photograph technically, it was a wonderful snapshot of the family holiday. My Dad has the weakest will of all of us. When this dogged beggar child hounded me, Dad hoped to engage in conversation with the boy, asking how old he is. The boy’s eyes lit up when he heard my father’s guess to be “four” as in 4 years of age, hoping that this foolish man was going to give him four dollars. While the rest of us, exasperated, hoped Dad would just stop and hurry up.
In conclusion, the boy’s English didn’t exceed the “Please” or “just one dollar” and apparently a couple of numbers. Dad finally gave up and handed him 1000 rials (equivalent to US $0.25).
Note: Put this in perspective. An average household income per day at the time of the visit is US $1. Before you all start gasping and hoping that we passed out dollars liberally, think about the vicious cycle begging feeds into, regardless where in the world you are. A lucky and cute child beggar can collect tens of dollars in one day, bringing in more income than either parent. The parent, thinking of near term, will pull the child out of school to be the money maker, depriving the child of education or skills other than begging. By the time the child is 9 or 10, that cuteness factor will fade with natural growth, and the child is no longer a money maker, but, now too old to attend school, cannot read or do maths.
For those of you who have the opportunity to visit such developing countries, if you wish to contribute and don’t want to go through an established organisation (the wisest recourse), consider either buying school supplies directly, or paying tuition to the school directly on behalf of a student.