When we return to the US Mike and I might need to get some sensitivity training. You see we have been traveling for so long now and seen so many beggars on the streets that we no longer even see these people; well we try to not let them irritate us too badly.
I will have to admit that the constant begging on the streets of Sarajevo was too much for me. Five days of constant bombardment by beggars and I couldn’t wait to get out of the city. I told Mike to get me out of there in fact that’s how bad the begging was. It was everywhere; what makes this begging worse is knowing that these are not locals but transplants; in some cases people being brought into the country for the express purpose of begging.
We asked one guide in Valencia why so many beggars and with a look of disgust she asked us to never give any of them any money because they were being flown into her country and her city by the Russian Mafia and they were there solely to cause trouble.
So many of the beggars on the streets are thus; people transplanted out of their horrible situations to live and ‘work’ where there are more tourists; tourists who feel badly that these families are begging for money and who give them coin.
We do not give coin to anyone. Mike and I live on a budget; if we are walking into a church it doesn’t mean I am going to give money to a beggar because I should feel guilted into giving money. We don’t give money to someone who is begging just because we are sitting in a café somewhere and they think we have extra money. And I’ve stopped feeling badly about not giving money or in shooing them away with disgust.
How bad is the begging in some countries? On the website for the Hungarian Tourism Office they have a section dedicated to the beggars tourists will find on the street and they ask that you not give them money. They state that their own citizens are taken care of well and no local would need to beg on the street so therefore these people are in the country not only illegally but are not wanted.
Americans by their very nature are one of the most giving nations on earth. We give more money to charity than any other cultural group. People love seeing American’s everywhere; we come across as an easy mark. I will echo the requests of locals and national tourism boards; do not give money to beggars on the street.
All of this constant begging however has had an adverse effect on us. We have seen whole families out begging together because they use their children as a means to get more money from woman. I find myself disgusted and angry at the constant bombardment of beggars and honestly to me if a city wants me to return to visit they need to get the beggars out of their country and away from me. What I remember most about Sarajevo is the beggars on the street and it is an instant turn off for me to ever want to return. When you say something to a local they say what can we do they are Romanians or Pakistani’s; they are always from somewhere else, never their own. They are a problem however and someone needs to fix it.
I might need some sensitivity training when we return to the US in order to feel badly for others again. I guess this might be considered a down side of a life of constant travel. Maybe…