How to handle beggars when holidaying in Cape Town
If you are suddenly faced with the unexpected, not knowing what is expected of you, it can turn your luxury Cape Town experience into the ultimate guilt trip. As you make your way to an upscale restaurant or to do some shopping at an exclusive boutique, you find yourself confronted by pleading eyes and the anthem of African cities everywhere, “Please Madam (or Sir), can you spare some change?”.
Now it’s all very well to scratch together some coins to alleviate your guilt but your small contribution won’t last long and you can’t afford to give to everyone. If you really want to do some good, is a handout the best way to assist these street people?
Cash isn’t always king
Any way you look at it the answer is no. We all want to help the less fortunate but in some cases our kindness can kill.
Despite appearances there are very many organisations which are equipped to assist homeless people – and not just with the food and shelter that they need.
Many of these street people are hardened cases, either addicts who are forced to feed their disease in this fashion, or those who have given up on trying to improve their lot in favour of surviving on handouts from sympathetic Samaritans.
Getting the homeless off the streets
When you look at it this way it is clear that the only hope for these folk is to get them off the streets. By directing them towards institutions that are qualified to help them find employment, and even the relevant therapy, you may be forcing them to take that first step towards leading a more fulfilling life.
Concerned local Capetonians are in the habit of keeping leftover food, old clothes and blankets in their vehicles to hand out to any street people they encounter, or drop off at a nearby shelter. This is impractical during your holiday, but there are other ways that you can walk the city streets of Africa guilt-free on your next visit.
How to make a real difference
- Buy The Big Issue magazine
- Buy entry passes for The Haven Night Shelter
- Pay R5 extra on your meal for StreetSmart South Africa
- Support Give Responsibly’s SMS hotline
- Buy food vouchers from the Broccoli Project
Of course you could also donate directly to one of the many shelters in Cape Town or volunteer an hour or few of your services and skills. It might be quality holiday time spent giving value to others, and time that will help you to understand why handing out cash isn’t always a good idea. It will also go a long way in alleviating your guilt when you are approached by a beggar.
Stick to these tips to enjoy your luxury Cape Town holiday knowing that you have done something constructive for the homeless people of the city.