To give or not to give to adult and children on the streets?

When confronted with a street child or beggar at your car window you may wonder what to do. To give or not to give?

Most of the children you see on the streets are sent by their families to earn money. Many adults beg to support large extended families. Not giving money means these families lose their only income. In the short-term this is catastrophic.

However, many people living on the streets use the money they receive to buy thinners, glue or video games. Many suffer form addiction to drugs or alcohol.  In the long term giving money is a death sentence: adults and children learn to be street people - they start strolling and leave their families without an income.

Restore dignity: Greet the people you see begging on the streets. Ask if you can give food instead. They will move on if they don t want to chat. Genuine concern is something money cannot communicate. Give children something really normal like a balloon or sweets. Children on the streets are still children.

Support an organisation: Give the money you would give on the streets to the programmes that are helping address the problem of adults and children on the streets. These include soup kitchens, day programmes, shelters and educational/vocational training opportunities. There are more than 200 children begging on the streets of Cape Town on a typical working day. A great deal of money that could be used by programmes to help these children is being given away by the public.

Support initiative and effort: Many people on the streets make a living by selling things, washing cars and gathering paper for recycling. Encourage this. For instance: don t have your office s waste paper collected, contract street people to do it for you. Rely on the Holy Spirit for wisdom and guidance!

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