Another thought provoking post on a topic I too have wondered about. I too have been asked for money all over Indonesia in just such a manner and have almost always refused. Mainly because I don’t want to condone nor encourage begging. I have heard stories about babies & young children being rented to spend the day on someone’s hip while the wend throughout busy traffic begging and I also hate to think that young males who are begging are just after cigarette money. However, my perspective changed one day in Jakarta when as we were rushing for the train on our way to school, Bu Valentina stopped to give a very poor elderly woman begging on the train steps Rp5000. This really made me stop and think! Maybe I shouldn’t be so quick to refuse in some situations! What do you think?
One night I was enjoying a beer while watching the sunset by the harbor near my house. I had met some of my students there, so I sat with them while they ate bakso (a hot meatball soup) and drank Pepsi. An elderly woman sat down next to us and began listening to our conversation. She was quiet mostly, but would echo me when I said a familiar word — I was speaking a mixture of English and Indonesian with the students.
When it was nearing dark, my students excused themselves and made for home. After they had left, the woman put her hand on my arm and motioned to the bakso a man was eating next to us. At first, I naively thought she was asking me if I wanted some, and I said I wasn’t hungry. When she said in English, “A dollar, please give me,” I knew…
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