Sunday, September 05, 2010

Country of Beggars?

It's the last week of Ramadan. I've seen more beggars on the streets during this month than any other months. Around my area, there is this 'tradition' of some houses or business places to give alms every Fridays. You see plenty of (elderly) ladies with baby or kids in tow going from houses to houses, mushollas to mosques, shops to shops begging for money or food.

They are milking people who is following the religious teaching of 'getting more rewards doing good during Ramadan'.

Our neighborhood's chief (Pak RT) once told me a story how those beggars were welcome to take rest at his yard. He served them drinks. It went on until one day Pak RT saw that the so-called beggars had an arisan for pricey cellphones at his yard. Since then, they are not welcome any more to rest at his yard.

I've also been getting texts from Lampung lately from those I met during my stint over there. It all were innocent, asking how I was, or congratulated me relating about the job I did back then. I still havent replied any of them. Part of me wanting to reconnect, another part of me being cynical and prejudice. The thing is, it happened often last year that those who seemed nice and helpful ended up asking for money or cellphone credits. The fact that these people texted me all of the sudden, made me question their motives. Based on my experience, if I answered their text, they would be asking for 'Lebaran gift' aka THR next.

It even happened last year that a failed candidate of the local parliament, called me asking for a new cellphone. I didnt get it. I still dont. How come someone who has acres of rubber plantation and a great house, asking me for such a thing while he saw I use an old cellphone myself. He might've thought I was more well off. Even if I was, which I am not, the guy had a lot of nerves asking me like that. I've never had a nerve asking people for money eventho they had offer me to give some before, not even to my own uncles, let alone someone I met just once.

The other day someone asked me if begging is some kind of cultural part of Indonesia.

As much as I hate to say it, I think it is part of culture for some people. There are villages whose most of its residents work as beggars in the big cities. They have decent houses and plot of lands in their villages due to their begging activities in the big cities. Some would do anything to get government help eventho they are actually not eligible. Some people take it for granted that their families and friends are going to help them. Come to think of it, it is similar to people on welfare in developed countries, except it's the family who provide safety net in stead of the government.

That being said, I know some people who are rather not having 3 meals a day than beg others for money. Some refused to ask for government's help because they thought they could still make it on their own, and they would rather the money is used for others who are even less fortunate.

Therefore, when it comes at helping people, I am rather picky. I wont spend Rp 500 on beggars on the street, if I want to help them with any thing, I usually just get them some food. However, I'd be more than happy giving more to those who are really needed, especially when it involves giving out books.


johnorford said...

As with everything, some ppl abuse the system.

Helping out the community or your family is a good thing. Just as govt payouts are - when ppl don't take advantage.

colson said...

Beggars are a nuisance. Where relatively few people have to resort to begging it is an insignificant nuisance, where many are desperate it is a huge nuisance. But apart from abusers, in many cases it is a huge drama also.

So I can't but second johnorford's opinion.

triesti said...

I am for helping community and family.. but not about begging. I'd rather giving a street sweeper money than a beggar. The later is passive in his/her poverty while the other is active.