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Travellers' questions that don't fit anywhere else This is an opportunity to ask any question, and post any notice you wish that doesn't fit into one of the other sections.
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  #16  
Old 23 Jun 2005
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I have to agree with PaulJ.

Yes it feels nice to give. But remember

1. you are giving nothing, and in return you are getting big waves of thanks you don't really deserve. It is a cheap way to buy feel-good.

2. A relationship is created of donor and recipient; the powerful with largesse to dispense, and the needy given the role of gratitude. At worst, this is pretty ugly, and echoes rich world/poor world relations.

3. It establishes a precedent. The next travellers through are expected to give. This is quite a problem is some areas, as someone mentioned: the Lonely Planet crew doling out pens everywhere.

In the end, your choice, of course. I carried a few postcards for people who I made a real bond with. But showering the kids with pens...yuk. Empty charity at its most destructive.
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  #17  
Old 29 Jun 2005
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Well, yes, I should have said that in my first post that I want to give presents to people who have helped me, not to throw around.
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  #18  
Old 29 Jun 2005
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While we're on the subject of giving out 'gifts'. I also noticed on my travels that people carry gifts for soldiers/police/government officials and readily gave them out (money as well) whenever they were asked for. I know that bribery is sometimes necessary but there is a tendency to accept it all to easy and to give in straight away. I can't count how many times we were asked for 'donations to cross check points/borders/visas etc but everytime we politely said no and were never delayed more than a few minutes. In the end we had to pay 2 bribes in 7 months across africa. I certainly don't mean put yourself at risk by refusing but read the situation and make a stand when you think you safely can.

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  #19  
Old 29 Jun 2005
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Yep, I agree. No gifts to just everybody. After having been helped - ok.

Bribes can also cause problems. In Chile locals warned me not to try and bribe the police. It might backfire. Although, that was a few years ago. The situation might have changed in the meantime.


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  #20  
Old 5 Jul 2005
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we were warned in india that tourists giving money to children was causing serious economic problems, the kids were earning more begging than their parents were by working.
It develops a culture of dependence where travellers are seen as a gravy train.
A friend of mine witnessed an italian Paris dakar truck throwing stuff out of the window while driving past at high speed. clearly they were not the first as the kids were falling over each other running at fast moving vehicvles - unbelievably dangerous
the kids of today are the border guards (or politicians)of tomorrow. pen today, 100euro tomorrow.
IMHO people who distribute gifts in a meanigless manner do so to satisfy their own guilt and make themselves feel better, whilst being too stupid and blinkered to see the long term problems this creates.
this does not refer to the original post, that clearly stated what, IMHO, is a reasonable scenario for saying thanks, but might well refer to some of the other people who have replied to the original post!!
If you want to donate stuff then do it through the proper channels. Give pens to schools, medicine to medical centres etc

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  #21  
Old 5 Jul 2005
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You dont need to give gifts that you have purpose bought. we found that letting a person start our motorbikes was a big deal for them. As the group surrounds your bike choose the cutest, youngest, ugliest or whatever kid and let him start your bike......you should see the faces when they push the button and the bike roars.In countries like Pakistan the adult men will try and push the kids out of the way so they can do it.
Also ..if you have a digital camera then take their photo so that they can see themselves on the screen. Some asked us to take a television photo of them. you can always wipe the photos when you have left.....never really had them ask to keep the photo....they seem happy just to see them on the screen.
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  #22  
Old 10 Jul 2005
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good tips guys, also helps to break the ice (so does a polar bear I believe!)

Quote:
Originally posted by David & Cheryl Laing:
You dont need to give gifts that you have purpose bought. we found that letting a person start our motorbikes was a big deal for them. As the group surrounds your bike choose the cutest, youngest, ugliest or whatever kid and let him start your bike......you should see the faces when they push the button and the bike roars.In countries like Pakistan the adult men will try and push the kids out of the way so they can do it.
Also ..if you have a digital camera then take their photo so that they can see themselves on the screen. Some asked us to take a television photo of them. you can always wipe the photos when you have left.....never really had them ask to keep the photo....they seem happy just to see them on the screen.
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  #23  
Old 31 Jul 2005
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Couldn't agree more, Moggy.

I lived and travelled in Uganda for 2 years and was appalled to see what Overland travellers had done to some communities. In a country where people are generally friendly, welcoming, and proud it was sickening to see children demand "give me my money!", "give me my water!", "give me my ....". This only ever happened in places that were frequented by comparativley rich and usually Caucasian tourists. Other, more remote, or less interesting for your normal 'back of a truck' overlander, areas did not show the same problems.

My colleagues and I visited a villeage with a small Community Tourism Project and were asked if we had any advice for the project. The unanimous answer was:

"If you get Overlanders throwing sweets or money from their lorry as they go past (seen it lots of times) make sure you children wait until the tourists are gone before picking up anuthing. Try to discourage tourist from turning you and yopur children into a spectacle!"

At first the project committee was surprised about this advice, but after a short discussion they were very happy, as they had never thought about this particular face of tourism or how tourism might change their community!

So, give gifts to the special people the made a difference to your travels, but don't carpet bomb communities with unwanted/undeserved presents. Think about the spoilt kid that had everything!

Give to organisations. Give usefull stuff. Give personal stuff. Give love and friendship.

I you really want to make a difference in a place, stay there and help. You will be surprised how interesting one small villeage in the middle of nowhere can be!!

Enjoy

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  #24  
Old 2 Jul 2009
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This thread deserves a bump
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  #25  
Old 2 Jul 2009
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Yes, it deserves periodic bumps. The key concept here is that people who shower strangers with gifts--this includes children and adults equally--are not making anyone happy but themselves. In the final analysis, they are stripping the recipients of much that is of real value: work ethic, pride, coherency of local culture, etc.

Anyone who doubts this need only talk to the elders in those little villages where the children crowd around grasping for "bic pens" or "sweets." Or settle into a roadside cafe and watch the expressions on the faces of the grandparents when your fellow tourists blast through, showering the begging kids with all sorts of crap. It makes you ashamed of your position in life to see such a thing...and to watch the disgust which is so obvious in the people who remain behind while we tourists move on to the next village, the next exotic sights.

Safe journeys!

Mark
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  #26  
Old 26 Aug 2009
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At first I felt a little bad that I didn't have anything to say thank you to all the people who helped me on my trip - I met so many, and I was offered so much hospitality. If I go to dinner with a friend I take a bottle of wine or a box of chocolates, and here I rarely even had that!

Then I realised I did have something to give that everyone wanted: my blog.

It doesn't sound like much, and to me it was just something I was doing anyway, more for people at home than anything else. But it means the people you have met can see where you've been, and know what happens to you after you've moved on. One of the people signed up to get notifications from my blog is a Serbian mechanic who speaks no English whatsoever - but clearly he's still interested.

It's like answering all the questions they ask when they meet you, as well as the ones you don't know the answer to yet.

Obviously this assumes that they have internet access, but it's a good start!

Laura
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  #27  
Old 31 Aug 2009
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????

Completely off course and off topic but what the hell is a bump?
Sorry for being so thick, I think senility is setting in!!
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  #28  
Old 1 Sep 2009
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I only have experience in Southern Africa, but have a lot of it and I recently wrote this for my website:

I’ll apologize in advance, but this is one my pet hates! Much of Africa is inhabited by nomad farmers and very poor people who used to do fine in life before the travelers came. Now, because travelers who passed though the country felt guilty that they were privileged and handed out money and gifts to the “poor little Africans” have created a culture of beggars in Africa. The worst town for this in my experience is Gobabis in Namibia where 100’s of little kids will swarm your vehicle asking for money. Not food, not water… Money. And when you say no, politely, they just get aggressive up to the point of you loosing your temper and behaving like a barbarian. In the far north of Namibia this has started up as well. The Himba people have led nomadic, self sufficient existence for longer than the “white” man has been in Africa. Only now, the irresponsible tourists have tough them to beg for money, or charge money or cigarettes for taking their photograph. Every little kid walks around with a “begging book” telling stories of how you must help pay school fees or fund their cricket tour.


They have no excuse! Botswana is right next door and have similar tribes, but no begging culture. The reason for this... Well, in my opinion it is because they have never been ruled by westerners. They are proud and self sufficient, have almost zero crime and a definite zero tolerance for corruption and crime. If only all African countries could be like that!



Leshoto in Southern Africa is the worst by far. There little kids run to the road side at the sound of every car and stand with their hands out shouting: ”Sweets!” In some instances, when ignored, they through rocks at your car as you’re leaving the scene.



All this could have been avoided if those “passing through” travelers did not try to save Africa… Africa does not want to be saved! If you want to help the community, use their camp sites, and their guides. If you want to help more, donate some pens and books to the local school. Do not hand out money or cigarettes or sweets or even food. Especially the Himba is not used to the food we eat and the germs we carry.



Not that I have any strong feelings about this of course…
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  #29  
Old 3 Sep 2009
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Originally Posted by greenmanalishi View Post
Completely off course and off topic but what the hell is a bump?
Sorry for being so thick, I think senility is setting in!!
Notice that threads are sorted by order of newest post? To bump is to move a thread back to the top of the list by posting a new message. Also referred to as BTT (Back To Top, Bump To Top).

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  #30  
Old 21 Oct 2009
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Originally Posted by Bennett View Post
For France,perhaps err frogs
Ben
For the English, roastbeef, for 20% of English children live in poverty. They could also be given pens and balloons. We could make the kids into beggars screaming "School pen", tho' we would feel really generous and wonderful. That's the point, isn't it?

In Australia, perhaps err wallabies or koalas. Tho' food and clothing could be brought for the aboriginal people, as they are in poverty too.

In the US, I hear they are chopping programmes to help the poor - so food would be useful there. No balloons though. Wouldn't want to humiliate them.

We could make them all into beggars; after all we love to do that in other countries.

Last edited by Caminando; 21 Oct 2009 at 19:52.
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