kenya/tanzania tips and gifts


Aug 14th, 2005, 06:57 AM
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Join Date: Apr 2005
Posts: 3
kenya/tanzania tips and gifts

Hi All,

We are going to Kenya and Tanzania in February and I am trying to find some informtion on appropriate gifts to take for people we might meet on our travels, particularly small gifts that children would like. Also, I've read that tipping in US dollars is appreciated in some African countries. Is this true of Kenya and Tanzania or does one normally tip in local currency? For our spending money is it better to take US dollars or travellers checks to change when we get there, or is it better to get local currency before we go?

Thanks for all the wisdom out there...
drkath is offline  
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Aug 14th, 2005, 07:45 AM
Join Date: Jan 2004
Posts: 814
Please DO NOT give gifts or money to children that you see or meet on the street. This trains them to be beggars, and it is a tremendous problem. Even if kids beg for pencils, etc. for school, do not do this. People have discovered that begging, even for pencils from tourists, is more lucrative than school or a job. The pencils will be resold. This problem is a serious one; the kids are very cute and appealing, but you must resist. This type of entrepreneurial spirit should not be trained to beg from white tourists.

Now if you are involved with a program where you are staying with a village or a family, you should ask them about appropriate gifts.

And if you want to help local kids, seek out a local charitable organization and give them a donation. You won't have to carry extra things, and they will get the kind of help that they need most. If you contact them before your departure (does the dr in your screenname mean Dr.?) you might be able to carry over some goods that they cannot get locally, and this would be valuable. For schools, a dictionary or atlas is very valuable and many children can use it. For clinics, you really need to contact themto see what they need.
tashak is offline  
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Aug 14th, 2005, 12:55 PM
Join Date: May 2005
Posts: 68
I was recently in Kenya and tipped in both U.S. and shillings. Either currency is understood and appreciated although the shillings are probably better in remote areas. Take a lot of ones and fives. Do not take travelers checks. They are simply not accepted in most places---even American Ex was rejected at the Intercontinental in Nairobi. Too much counterfeiting with paper travelers checks so they are fast becoming a relic of the past unless they are the prepaid plastic kind that can be swiped through a computer. A lady in our group found this out the hard way. Take a variety of plastic and a dummy wallet (like a subway ring) with some credible amount of currency and unusable plastic to hand over if required in a tough situation with your real stuff strapped in a travel wallet under your clothes. You could make your gifts spontaneous. They especially need children's books like those little lightweight Golden Books, pens and pencils. With trade being so poor in Africa, money donations won't necessarily buy those kinds of goods ata reasonable price so at least you know the stuff you bring is getting into circulation and someone will be using them in Africa. It is better than taking nothing and hoping your money goes to the right place. Do both--donations and gifts. Since you will pass school, drop books, etc. off. Have a great trip. You will love it and be amazed when you return about what you have experienced. ALso, if you take things, like your dummy wallet or extra things you can part with before you leave and you want to leave them along with your tip for the maid, write a note saying the maid can keep it. Otherwise the maid has to fork it over to the front desk. A friend of mine left some ladies Keds in a room that had been discolored by the warm red earth of Kenya. The maid came running after her to let her know she had left them. When the maid heard she had intentionally left them because they were stained, the maid was very very happy and excitedly replied that they were too big for her but they would fit her brother just fine. I left a lot of stuff and my suitcase was much lighter on my return despite the fact I brought back 8 Masai clubs for the men in my family. They have been a total hit and they only cost $7 to $10 each. I bought practically all of my souvenirs from the very persistent Masai saleswomen and of course I contributed to their persistence by buying more and more but I remained a sucker for a businesswoman with a baby on her back. I should have bought more. I love everything I brought back although it looked like a lot of junk when I loaded it into my suitcase. It is all quite special now.
Duck is offline  
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Aug 14th, 2005, 01:20 PM
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 4,859
We were asked by our driver specifically not to give gifts (even pencils or ribbons) to the children for all the reasons stated above. We did however, give US baseball hats to our drivers and they seemed to love that. They also wanted watches -- anything with a US logo.
TC is offline  
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