Bringing Pens/Candy to Kenya

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Nov 6th, 2005, 09:15 AM
  #1
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Bringing Pens/Candy to Kenya

I was just wondering if it is recommended to bring pens and pencils for the children, and perhaps some candy. I read somewhere not to do this as it is an insult to the people, but then on another forum, people were recommending that you bring tshirts, pens, pencils etc to give to the people. Does anyone have any advice?
stvmic is offline  
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Nov 6th, 2005, 10:37 AM
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1. Don't give candy to children whose teeth will probably never see a dentist.
2. Don't randomly give gifts to children. They soon expect it from tourists and will run to you, your vehicle, begging,swarming you might say. They seem cute today but later. I have had many close calls with children running into the path of my vehicle yelling things like 'sweets'. And have heard stories of worst encounters from other travellers. The ultimate is that the children grow to expect this and become rock throwers if you don't stop.
3. If you must bring something. Do it intelligently. Like going to a local school and giving useful gifts. I used to pack in a box of solar pocket calculators and give a couple to the heads of the schools in remote areas. Tshirts,2nd hand clothing, old tennies are good.
4.Try to give when you not pitching up and unloading to make yourself feel good and then as quickly depart.

I have a very low opinion of tourists that do otherwise, and you wouldn't care to see me cut into your tour operator for letting it happen.

You asked for an opinion, you got it.

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Nov 6th, 2005, 12:28 PM
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Thank you Luangwablondes, I couldn't agree more. Things like this teach children to beg. When begging gets lucrative, it keeps them out of school. You can't "help" a poor country by giving sweets and gifts to the most enterprising beggars. Just don't do it, and tell everyone else you are travelling with not to do it either.
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Nov 6th, 2005, 01:38 PM
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I had brought some postcards from Hawaii where I live and gave them to the school at Chimbambele. They had a signpost out front with distances to parts of the world and Hawaii was on one of the signs, so instead of just seeing the name on a post, the children at the school can see exactly what Hawaii looks like.
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Nov 7th, 2005, 02:44 AM
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"Give me my pen" - a cry heard all over Africa. Also seen - a sign in a guesthouse (sort of) at Cape Maclear. It said, and I must paraphrase because I didn't write it down verbatim:

Please don't give pens and sweets (candy, lollies) to our children - we don't want them to be beggars. But if you want to help our school we welcome your donations".

Nuff said.
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Nov 7th, 2005, 05:17 AM
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On our very first safari, 13-years ago, I was aghast seeing other tourists handing out candy or sweets or some sort. What were they thinking? Most of these children never or rarely see a dentist. So no candy, please.

As to pens or pencils, it's best if you wish to bring these or other school supplies, they be donated to a local school or community elder. Same with caps or t-shirts that can be distributed by others. While the children are adorable with great smiles, begging shouldn't be part of their daily activities.
 
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Nov 7th, 2005, 08:22 AM
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stvmic,

As a tourguide I spend the best part of two to three days a week in townships in Cape Town. Many of my visitors want to do good by handing out gifts etc to the kids in the township. I understand their sentiments fully however little do they realise that they are on many occasions doing more harm than good. I say this because all one thinks about is what should you give to the kids and forget to ask the vital question of what happens to the feelings of the kids who dont receive anything because the visitor has run out of supplies of pencils or whatever. I have witnesed such heartache amongt the non receivers in the past and it is because of this that I strongly advise my visitors not to hand out anything directly to the kids in townships anymore. Please remember that as a vistor one arrives in a township or village, you hand out the toys etc and then leave. I in turn as a tourguide witness these handouts and two days later walk back into the township and have to hear the woes and share the tears of the kids who did not receive anything. Visitors so easily and understandbly tend to forget about this part of the equation however let me tell you the tears of non receipt are much bigger than the smiles of receipt.

If one has to pass something out to individual children with other kids not knowing about this then I suppose that things would be in order however please bear in mind that bush telegraph has nothing on the speed of how news spreads in community type set ups like villages or townships so rest assured others will find out about your actions.

In summary my feelings are that when it comes to mass handouts unless your have an unlimited supply of handout material rather hand out nothing. The kids you encounter will all rather enjoy your taking digital pictures of them so that they can obtain instant gratification by seeing these pics other than only some of them finding you handing a gift to a few of them.

Hope this helps.

Very proudly part of the wonderful nation of South Africa
Selwyn_Davidowitz is offline  
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Nov 7th, 2005, 12:01 PM
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I brought a half dozen of my husband's caps and gave them to the head teacher at a school. They were going to be used for prizes, and I'm hoping to hear one day how that worked out.
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Nov 7th, 2005, 01:13 PM
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We never bring such trinkets. Not only are they generally chinzy, but the above mentioned problems of distribution, creating little beggars, and so on, mean what looks like a nice gesture does more harm than good.

And if one is spending upwards of $5000 on a trip, $10 worth of pens is pretty cheap.

Rather, I recommend people contribute to the many larger and worthwhile charities. Give them money and let them decide how best to make it do good. They know what's needed and are a lot more efficient. Your contribution will go a lot further.
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Nov 7th, 2005, 01:53 PM
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When we travelled through Kenya with a private guide (Nairobi to Amboseli and around the game parks), the Masai children ran to catch up to our car if it slowed or stopped. They ran fast, too! I would give them some coins, which our guide did not discourage. They did not want any American money, even though it was worth more.
I suppose it wasn't the right thing to do, but the begging is pretty well established in that area.
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Nov 26th, 2005, 09:30 PM
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I agree.
Choose your charity carefully... ones where the majority of money gets to the people who need it. like http://www.advantageafrica.org/index2.html

Christian Aid are very good, because it's about starting things, and helping people to help themselves... responsible projects etc.

http://www.christian-aid.org/
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