Monthly Archives: February 2014

Child Beggars – What Should You Do? What Can You Do?

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When traveling or volunteering abroad, especially in developing countries, chances are you will be confronted by a child asking for money. What do you do? Do you give some change, a larger bill, or do you walk away?

Last Fall, Jillian Keenan published an article for Slate.com titled  Keep the Change, Giving Money to Child Beggars is the Least Generous Thing a Tourist Can Do.   In the article she explains how harmful giving money to child beggars can be.

“Many travelers already know that when we give money (or gifts that can be resold, such as pens), we perpetuate a cycle of poverty and give children a strong incentive to stay out of school. You also may already know that giving candy to children in some areas of the world actually causes enormous suffering, since many communities do not have the resources to treat tooth decay. But the reasons to never, ever give to child beggars go much deeper than that. Organized begging is one of the most visible forms of human trafficking—and it’s largely financed and enabled by good-hearted people who just want to help.”

Child beggars are often victims of human trafficking and the money they earn begging goes to organized criminals who are enslaving children. The movie Slumdog Millionaire  opened a lot of people’s eyes to the plight of child beggars in India but the truth is human trafficking happens everywhere. A BBC’s Panorama program about an investigative report on child beggars in the UK revealed that a child begging could make up to 500 pounds a day. And what happens when the child grows up? Often they are pushed into prostitution.

I love what Keenan suggests on ways to interact with child beggars. We don’t want to ignore the children but we can’t give them money directly. She suggests donating to a legitimate charity and finding ways to interact with beggars that don’t involve giving gifts or money.

“The imperative to not give money or gifts to child beggars doesn’t mean we have to turn our backs on them. Donate to responsible NGOs, and look for creative new ways to be kind to children that won’t disrupt familial dynamics, encourage long-term poverty, undercut local businesses, or abet human trafficking.” “Find an inventive, responsible way to be kind.”

Volunteering Abroad is Within Your Reach

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This article taken from the Winter 2014 IVPA Newsletter.

IVPA Principle and Practice #5: Suggest means of fundraising to participants

To prospective volunteers who are just starting to think about volunteering abroad it may come as a surprise that most volunteer sending organizations charge a fee to participate in the program or project. Program fees allow for a volunteer sending organization to maintain a sustainable volunteer program in their partner communities and provide important support before, during and after a trip.  At first glance, a program fee may seem prohibitive to many who want to volunteer but there are ways to make volunteering abroad more affordable.

Fundraising Opens the Door
For many, fundraising is a key that opens the door to volunteering abroad. Some volunteers even fundraise all of their travel and program costs.  Asking friends, family, neighbors and local businesses to contribute to your volunteer trip involves a whole network of people with your experience and your cause. In many cases part of their contribution is also tax deductible*

IVPA member organizations adhere to Principle and Practice #5 by suggesting means of fundraising to participants.  For many first time volunteers, fundraising for their trip is their first exposure to fundraising. IVPA members have years of experience coaching and provide the support volunteers who need it.
Some of the advice from IVPA Members includes:

  • “Set concrete goals.” Global Citizens Network
  • “Make it convenient for your sponsors to donate by telling them about the simple and secure online donation process.” Cross-Cultural Solutions
  • Ask for a specific amount of money. Serivce For Peace
  • Think of creative solutions like: ‘bid on a date’ evening, arts and craft sales, car washes, entering a ‘bike-a-thon’. Habitat for Humanity
  • Approach your employer about a Contribution Match Program. Globe Aware

Fundraising is work but volunteer sending organization can provide the tools and knowledge needed to get the work done. And as Service For Peace return volunteer, Michael Bustamente, stated “Honestly, I can’t even recall what the exact cost of the project was. What I will never forget is the exposure the program gave me. You can’t really put a value on that.”

*Ask your volunteer sending organization or a tax professional if and how much a contribution is deductible.

Fundraising

“Never think you need to apologize for asking someone to give to a worthy cause, any more than as though you were giving him or her an opportunity to participate in a high-grade investment. The duty of giving is as much his or hers as is the duty of asking yours.”
– John D. Rockefeller, Jr