India / Southeast Asia

Numbers, Numbers: 3 Things I’ve Learned People will Approach me for in India

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1. To take a picture with me or of me. This hasn’t happened yet, but every day since we arrived we’ve been told that people will want to take pictures with us because we are Americans. As far as I can tell there’s no harm in it and our Maranthi teacher says they most likely just want to brag to their family that they have an American friend.

2. To ask me to buy what they’re selling. This one is kind of true everywhere, but when you stick out like we do it’s certainly intensified. Of course there are the food vendors and clothing shops, but we’ve also been approached for some out-of-the-ordinary things. Yesterday we got stopped by a music lecturer from the University of Pune who wanted to teach us during our time here. She gave us her phone number and told us to call her if we wanted her expertise.

3. To ask for money. So far, the poverty doesn’t seem as intense or overt as it was in Nepal (or even Oahu or NYC) as I’ve only been approached for money a handful of times in the past two days. What’s hardest is saying no to the children because you really do want to help them.

So for this trip I’ve resolved to keep a tally of how many kids ask me for money and at the end of the trip I will donate that number of dollars to a reputable Indian organization that helps children on the street. I’m afraid that by giving money to the children myself I’m only putting a band aid on the problem. Besides, the money I hand them may or may not actually go to them. In some cases it might be passed from them to the hands of an adult who is taking care of them and asking them to beg.

If anyone knows of any reputable organizations I could donate to at the end of the program please let me know! I’ll keep you updated on my tally at the end of each post for the rest of the semester.

Dollars to Donate: $5

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7 thoughts on “Numbers, Numbers: 3 Things I’ve Learned People will Approach me for in India

  1. What a great donating idea! I know it can be tough traveling where there are so many people trying to sell you things, or just plan asking for money. I wonder if the saying no to children will get ‘easier’, or more difficult as time goes by for you (?).

    • Great question. I’ll let you know! I’m nervous that it will probably become easier as time goes by, but I want to make sure I don’t become numb to poverty here (or in America for that matter).

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