Sunday, July 11, 2010

Have and Have Not

Since entering rural Zambia, we have come across many children. They
come out of the woodwork to wave at us as we go by. When we stop, we
are tempted to given them small gifts or food. Most of us brought
small trinkets with us to give out to kids. Julia and I have colored
ballpoint pens, pads of paper, colored hair ties, & balloons. Our
friends John & Edwina from Austalia brought these cute kawala bear
stuffed animals that hang on a window.

It's especially tempting to give when kids are asking for food, but
our guide has asked us not to encourage a begging behavior in children
by giving hand outs. He suggests finding kids who are in school and
asking them a question like "Who is the President of Zambia?" or
asking them to recite a poem they learned in school before giving
anything. It's hard to tell though which kids are in school and which
are not. These kids are not starving, but food is precious. Although
heartbreaking at times, our guide Chris is right.

We did have one instance where we blew a tire on a rural road. About
15 kids came out and we were having a good time talking to them. As
time went by while we were changing the tire, more and more continued
to come out. They sang us a song so Julia and I decided to give them
some balloons. We believed we had enough to go around. Once I
presented them though, it turned into a free-for-all. The kids are
just so starved for entertainment, and there are just so many of them
amd so little resources (toys?) that any one person could not
accommodate them all without going broke. Each kid was desperate to
get a balloon, and I do meant *desperate*. I could see it in their
eyes. Unfortunately for our balloons, an older kid grabbed the bag out
of Edwina's hands before we could finish giving them out (we were
taking turns and it wasn't her fault). We wanted to give something to
every kid, but it is just impossible - either by the volume of kids or
the competition among them.

One thing we do give out regularly though is excess food. Any
leftovers that would normally be thrown away go to whoever is around,
and it is always gladly accepted. We just need to be quick and
targeted in handing it out to avoid the "free-for-all".

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