Is Giving Money to Beggars Stupid?
Mommy Remanika entered the house very agitated and irritated. She slammed the main door and threw her bag on the bed. Her mother in law was shocked to see her behave this way, so she decided to ask her about her unusual behavior.
Mother-In law: What happened Remanika beta? Why are you so irritated?
Remanika: Nothing ma! These beggars on the red light irk me. It is stupid to give them money or show any sympathy towards them. They are completely useless. I mean how can a mother do such a thing?
Mother-In law: But beta please explain properly! Whose mother are you talking about? Just take a deep breath and tell me.
Remanika: Okay! On my way back from the market, a small child came near my car and started knocking on my window pane, begging for money. Seeing the innocent face of the child my heart melted and I gave him some. On seeing me giving money to that child, all the beggars rushed towards my car and started knocking and banging the window panes from all 4 sides. I got so scared! I didn't know what to do!
Mother-In law: Oh my god! That's scary. Then what?
Remanika: I was completely helpless. I started honking but they didn't move an inch. I felt as if I had commited an irrevokable blunder. I could still accept the kids doing this but how can a grown up lady behave in such a way?
Mother-In law: Which lady are you talking about?
Remanika: There was a woman with a baby barely a few months old in her arms. The baby was in such bad shape. She was naked and looked like a living skeleton. I was disgusted by the sight! I am sure the condition of the child was a sham, it can't be true. They must be putting on a show for their benefit and using the child to melt hearts and ask for money. How can anybody commit such a sin? Aren't they afraid of god? Why should the baby suffer so much? They should really be pulled down by some NGO for this sort of cruelty on an innocent being!
Mother-In law: Oh God! Yes, you are right. But please calm down. We will talk to Sameer once he gets back from work. Meanwhile, I must talk about this with your dad.
Sameer was back from work and met everybody at the dinner table. He was aware of what had happened with Remanika and had a soft corner for that baby. He decided to contact an NGO and take them to that place. Remanika was losing her nerves and she wanted to teach that lady a lesson.
The next morning, Sameer took an off from work so that he could accompany Remanika as well as his parents along with the members of the NGO to that place. Remanika was prepared that her opinion about that lady was totally correct and she was in no mood of showing any mercy to her. She had to save that poor baby's life. They reached the red light and after enquiring a bit, they arrived at their homage and everything was different when the things started to unfold.
We found the lady and the innocent baby lying on the foot-path, people around told us that the baby is her daughter and her husband died in a road accident. After a moment that lady came up, we asked her the truth, and she was perplexed with our reaction, thought why would anybody pretend to be poor when half of india is spending their nights on the foot-path. She explained that the poor family was surrounded by huge clouds of writhe, her husband was a drunkard and died in an accident, her daughter is suffering from fever and she has been hungry since so many days. The mother has no milk to feed her.
Silence overshadowed, nobody knew how to react. A thin film of sweat appeared on Remanika's forehead, she was ashamed of assuming that situation in such a way. These people are devoid of basic amenities. They don't have a gang to kidnap children and make them beg. Remanika's presumptions were wrong. That lady and the baby was only an example of the many hundreds of people who were affected by this rampant disease of poverty.
We spoke to the people around and they said that their lives are really miserable, they don't have any accommodation and at any moment a police officer might come to chuck them out of this place. The members of the NGO promised to take an imitative. The lady approached us with the little one cradled to her bosom, we decided to give her some money so that she could nourish her as well as the baby's starving stomach. She advanced her hands towards us, took the money, and inturn gave us blessings. Remanika and her mother-in law both were left with moist eyes.
Remanika's doubt was cleared, she didn't need to probe deeper. It was a soul stirring and heart wrenching experience for the family that left an emotional bruise and this bruise could only be healed if they do something for the poor.
Now each time Remanika passes that red light, she makes it a point to meet them and enquire about their well being. The members of the NGO made them aware of their rights and th amenities the government provides for their solace. We cannot say that the government is negligible or they aren't doing anything for the poor, it's just that people like us find giving money to the poor stupid, if God has blessed us with so many things, I feel it's our duty to share it with people in need and not judge anyone so soon.
Here are a few reasons not to give money to children:
- The more money you give, the greater the incentive to continue begging.
- Some parents prefer to turn their children to begging than to send them to school - it’s more lucrative, and sets in motion a cycle of exploitation.
- Not all parents encourage their children to beg - some children do so for the money. Giving undermines the authority of those parents who are trying to discourage the practice.
- If children earn money the notion of the Rich People as a viable target will be reinforced.
- What you give will have no long-term benefit.
- The obvious - you may be contributing to crime! The gang issue is a real one - just hang around some begging locations early in the morning and in the evening - you may see small buses doing the rounds and picking up all the children. Those vans are certainly not their parents!
So when you give, Give Responsibly!