Sunday, July 20, 2008

Indonesian 3-point plan to eradicate Beggars.

Beggars are a worldwide problem, just more prevalent in some places than in others. In the Transkei (region part of South Africa) where we were, beggars were very prevalent. Very early in the piece we came up with the policy of not giving money where it could be avoided but always help them if we could. So when they asked for money for food, we would buy that food. In the literally hundreds of times we answered the requests for food, I only remember 3 times when the recipient of our food giving, actually acted as if they were really hungry, and ate the food there and then. Despite specifically asking for money for specific food and then having that specific request met, most still wanted money instead.

Anyway I digress; but because of our south African experiences, I was interested in a small item in the Melbourne Herald Sun newspaper on July 8, where they reported that “residents in an Indonesian city who give into guilt and could face three months in jail under a law criminalizing giving money to beggars and street children.

This new regulation was approved the previous month in Makassar, Southern Sulawesi and aimed at reducing the city’s swelling population of beggars.

If the law just stopped there, I don’t believe it would work, but they have not stopped there. As well as fining or arresting those who give, they are also fining and arresting those who beg, and the crackdown has been matched by a program to train beggars for work, so that eventually they may be able to get a job other than begging.

I say get a job other than begging because it has been my experience that many of these beggars and street kids are not genuine beggars, but people who make a living out of it.

So I believe this 3 point plan of hitting the beggars who beg and the givers who give, whilst at the same time trying to make the genuine unemployed valuable workers, has a good chance of working where a single approach program would not have worked.

How about with you? Is there something that you have been trying to achieve with a single prong approach, but need to consider more prongs to tackle each part of the program from all the different sides? What say you to looking at a new or maybe only better approach? Over to you for reflection now.

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