What trinkets/gifts to bring for local children?

May 17th, 2005, 11:50 AM
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Join Date: Sep 2003
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What trinkets/gifts to bring for local children?

I always like to travel with small items that I can hand out to local children - both to makes friends and hopefully leave a good impression of Americans. I don't hand out change or money since that can lead to horrible consequences of children being forced by adults to beg for money. I took pieces of colored chalk with me to Peru, and that was a huge hit. Does anyone have ideas what the kids might like or need in Africa? I am looking for more personal one-on-one ideas since the tour I am taking contributes part of the safari cost to a local community project they support. Thanks for your input.
SandyD1 is offline  
May 17th, 2005, 12:08 PM
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I've heard that handing out gifts of any kind encourages children to beg rather than attend school. In Kenya, we did see a lot of children on the side of the road, at gas stations, etc. with their hands out or asking for trinkets, pens, etc. I kind of feel that giving out random gifts may not be the best idea (it's hard not to want to give something though) but would like to hear others' opinions on this subject.
Patty is offline  
May 17th, 2005, 12:15 PM
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I agree with Patty about giving out gifts, even small items, along your route. What is often suggested is that pens, pencils, note books, story books, chalk (great idea),etc. be donated to a local school. There are many villages/manyattas in close proximity to the lodges/camps where you will be staying; may even be sponsored by the lodge/camp. The manager at these properties can, either, arrange for you to visit a school or village where you can present your items directly.
May 17th, 2005, 12:24 PM
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Hi Patty,
I agree with you about giving gifts on some occasions. I try not to do it randomly, rather we have given out things after more interaction. For example, we gave out the sidewalk chalk to a little girl who whose mother ran the cafe, and who was curious about and talked with us while we ate lunch. We also gave it to two brothers who were traveling with us on local bus and with whom we ended up talking with for while. But I completely agree that randomly handing out items is as bad as money in many instances. We were thinking more about the moments when you make a more personal connection.
SandyD1 is offline  
May 17th, 2005, 01:18 PM
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SandyD1 - Regardless what items you choose or how you distribute them - do not give out sweets - candy, gum, carmels, etc. These children have little, if any, access to dentists.
May 17th, 2005, 07:17 PM
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After visiting a day care / school in South Africa, I decided to send the children a large box of clothing when I returned to the States. It seemed to be something they really needed. Would you be able to take some children's clothing with you and donate it to a school? I'm hoping to do just that on my next trip. Just an idea...
girlpolo33 is offline  
May 18th, 2005, 01:01 PM
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I agree with Patty. We feel that spending money in a town will eventually filter down. I personally think it is condescending to hand out candy and pencils etc.
Mincepie is offline  
May 18th, 2005, 08:04 PM
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We only gave candy to children who were with their parents and got the parents' OK first. I can remember giving it to a 7 or 8 child who was waiting with his dad while their car was being repaired. Another time we gave it to the child of the checkpoint guard in the middle of nowhere. There were more along this line. We didn't give it to groups of children. This was in Egypt.
sunshine007 is offline  
May 19th, 2005, 12:44 PM
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Before leaving for Egypt and Jordan a few weeks ago, I visited my local 'Toys-R-us' and stocked up on several little novelty items of the kind you find near the check out : Bubbles, glow sticks, coloured rubber balls, sticky squishy things that kids love to play with, and handed them out to kids in the same way as Sandy did. I reserved some items for the kids of the drivers with whom I'd spent the past 2 or 4 days with and whom I knew a bit better. The drivers themselves got tee shirts from me.

All these were a hit - and so was the little bit of candy that I took for the kids (lolly pops, pop rocks, etc.). Most of the kids didn't appear to have had any candy recently if the desolate areas I was in was any indication, and I'm sure that the little that I'd taken for them was a small treat (evidenced by the big smiles and wide eyes) without posing any danger to their teeth.
Mathieu is offline  
May 19th, 2005, 04:57 PM
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Hi Sandi:

I'd read somewhere about bringing self addressed post cards from your home town (the 'city hall', 'downtown market', 'waterfront' type, not the 'big steel/urban sprawl' type). So I took 20 or 25 and could have easily handed out double that.

Since I'm from Canada, the ones with a winter theme were especially well received and I was amazed at how much people knew about Canada. And I even received a few letters thanking for for showing them a little bit about Canada.

TravelMaster is offline  
May 20th, 2005, 02:19 AM
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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  
May 20th, 2005, 09:53 AM
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selwyn, thanks for the input, that makes a lot of sense. i will bring clothes and postcards and give them to an orphanage.
matnikstym is offline  
May 28th, 2005, 05:49 PM
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Thanks Selwyn. I appreciate your very helpful advice
SandyD1 is offline  
May 30th, 2005, 06:57 PM
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Here's something that I've done in over 30 countries (including South Africa last summer - thanks again Selwyn) that works wonders. Take along a polaroid camera and film. It develops almost instantly and the kids love it. You can solve the heartache among non-receivers by taking group pictures which the teachers will then post in the classroom. It's not a hand-out (so no begging issues), no one gets left out because of the group photos(no heartache), a great ice breaker the world over, and it keeps giving long after you've left. The only negative: polariod film cost a bit and you have to carry another item with you.....it's been well worth it to me the world over.
AdrenalineBoy is offline  

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