What is your usual thought process when a beggar approaches you? 

Many of us encounter beggars on a daily basis, and need to decide how to react each time. Some have taken a stance on how to treat beggars while others are constantly in a limbo, and the disgusting few who choose to be abusive or harmful.

Regardless of how you respond when a beggar approaches you, it’s obvious that the situation beggars are in is heartbreaking and unfortunate, to say the very, very least. This sensitive and critical subject is difficult to talk about, but we asked a few people how they interact with beggars on the streets, in the hopes of getting some insight as to how this humanity crisis is dealt with.

Image via Daiystar.com.lb

"My first thoughts are cursing this beggar's parents for bringing him/her to life when they cannot provide.”

"Never give money to someone of an age where they could be earning the money in other ways (cleaning houses, shops, doing manual labor...) sometimes to kids and the elderly. Honestly it depends on my mood and whether I have change or not. Also never ever to beggars that hold infants and use them to beg... those really get on my nerves.”

"Well if I'm walking, I think let's feed them/him/her. If I'm in the car, I hesitate but sometimes I fall into the eyes of a child and so I pay up, nothing more than 2 thousand though. It's always good to give sometimes I give them clothes ( I would have planned it in the car because I know to expect them to be in a certain place) so it doesn't have to be money.”

"I will still help people who are in need regardless if they are being exploited by others less caring.”

"Go with your hunches and first instincts. Some are deserving of your compassion while a few may not be.”

“I give money because I can't in any way know the circumstances of their needs to base my judgment on, I'm just glad I'm not in their place… All I know is that right now they're asking for money, and I'm not gonna challenge their intentions because I will never know.. I might be encouraging them to beg more, but I also might be preventing their boss from hitting them tonight for not bringing them the requested amount.”

”I never give money, I would buy a sandwich or a snack and sometimes, if they're a bunch of kids, I offer free lessons in school work but they're never interested.”

"Honestly, when I was living in Hamra it’s the same kids over and over again, I watched as people give them clothes and their parents/pimps don't let them keep it. They make them stay dirty so they can get more money, they don't let them wear the new clothes etc. So I stopped giving them money or clothes, and they don't want food, it got so bad that at some points they would grab onto my clothes or throw things if you don't give them money. The "mothers" also drug their children so they are asleep, passed out in their arms, the only thing you can do is give them food to eat then and there. Sometimes I thought, what if I just took this child, what if I just took her, would they even care, would the government do anything about it? Alas, that was maybe the most exhausting and heart-breaking thing about being in Beirut this last time I was living there; I, like everyone else around me, started to become desensitized, I felt like I was losing my humanity faster than the kids were losing their childhoods.”

“...they might be misusing the money for drugs or whatever that is not a necessity. Most of the ones who insist on money want it for bad/unnecessary things or for their ‘pimp’. I prefer giving the ones who are selling something to encourage the thought of working for the money. Also I would point out the closest charity that would actually take the time to study their needs and help where necessary (medical/food/nonfood/shelter).”

"I usually give them money, what are 2-5 thousand liras going to do for me, but for them it might be their only income of the day, to the ones I see next to food places, I usually get them food if that’s what they’re asking for, but I DON’T give mothers with babies in their arms or who have their kids running around cars begging for money, since the baby is usually asleep (they might have given them something or they might actually be dead, based on an article I read a while back) and I don’t want to encourage them to use their children!”

"Personally, it's better to err on the side of generosity. Begging is just like anything else, some people are better at it than others. Some beggars are forced by their families to beg for money. This one time in Mar Mkhayel, a cute little girl got smacked in the face by an older guy maybe her father/pimp. I felt so sorry for her, I approached her afterwards and gave her a piece of candy and 10,000 LL.

Two weeks ago I was stuck at a red light, so this lady holding her little child approached my car and started reciting the same old beggar monologue; I gave her a condom...

People who are really in need are generally respectful and kinda low key about asking for money. Whenever I see someone with very little, for me, sharing is the right thing to do regardless of the beggar's 'personal agenda’.”


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