(Note from Erin: This might seem to diverge a bit from what we normally do around here but the piece moved me and broke my heart and I wanted to share it with you all. If you want to help the homeless or those in need, please consider first speaking with the local shelter. They are “in the trenches” and would be more than happy to give you suggestions on how you and your family could help impact their community.)
This is an article I came across months ago. We are not sure of the author, however, we’ve checked the authenticity of this with our followers in Bangkok and Cambodia. Surprisingly, this seems to be true, and their request is only to offer beggars food and water – not money. Any help you can give in terms of their needs are just fine. But make sure you do not hand over big bills, that will keep the begging industry going. You should be wise enough to know whom to help and how to help. Make your decision based on the situation and knowing it well enough.
“Near the metro station, sits a woman of uncertain age. Her hair is confused and dirty, her head bowed in grief. The woman sits on the dirty floor and next to her lies a bag. Into that bag, people throw money. In the woman’s hands, asleep is a two-year-old baby. He is in a dirty hat and dirty clothes.
“Madonna with baby” – numerous passers-by will donate money. The people of our kind – we always feel sorry for those less fortunate. We are ready to give unfortunate people our last shirt, the last penny out of our pocket and never think another issue. Helping seems like a “Good job done.”
I walked past the beggar for a month. I did not give any money, as I knew that this is a gang-operated scam, and that money collected by the beggar, will be given to whoever controls beggars in the area. Those people own numerous luxury properties and cars. The beggar also gets something, of course, “A bottle of vodka in the evening and a döner kebab.” A month later, walking past the beggar, a shock suddenly hit me….
I’m standing at a busy crossing, staring at the baby. He is dressed, as always, in a dirty tracksuit. I realized that it seemed “wrong”, finding a child in a dirty underground station from morning to evening. The baby was always asleep. He never sobbed or screamed, he always slept, burying his face in the knee of a woman who was his MUM.
Do any of you, dear readers, have children? Remember how often they slept at the age of 1, 2 or 3 years old? An hour, two, maximum three (and never consecutive). An afternoon nap and there was always movement. For the whole month, every day I walked to the underground station, I never saw the child awake! I looked at the tiny little man, with his face buried in the knee of his mother, then at the beggar, and my suspicion was gradually formed. “Why does he sleep all the time?” I asked, staring at the baby.
The beggar pretended not to hear me. She lowered her eyes and hid her face in the collar of her shabby jacket. I repeated the question. The woman again looked up. She looked somewhere behind my back, tired with utter irritation. Her look was similar to the creatures from a different planet.
“F *** off,” her lips murmured.
“Why is he asleep?!” I almost cried.
Behind me, someone put their hand on my shoulder. I looked back. An old man was looking at me disapprovingly:
“What do you want from her? Can’t you see how hard she’s got it in her life? Eh?”
He took some coins from his pocket and threw them in the beggar’s bag.
The beggar made a cross by waving her hand, portraying the face of humility and universal grief. The guy removed his hand from my shoulder and strolled out of the underground station. I bet, at home, he will tell how he defended poor, distraught woman from a soulless man in a tube station.
Next day, I called a friend. He was a funny man with eyes like olives. His nationality – Romanian. He only managed to complete three and a half years of education. His lack of education did not prevent him from moving around the City streets in expensive foreign cars and live in a “small” house with a countless number of windows and balconies. From my friend, I managed to find out that the beggar is part of a business. Despite the genuine appearance, it is clearly organized. It is supervised by organized crime rings. The children used are “rented” from families of alcoholics, or simply stolen.
I needed to get the answer to my question – Why is the baby always sleeping? And I received it. My friend explained it to me, casually and with a calm voice that twisted me in shock, just like he was talking about weather report: “They are on heroin or vodka.”
I was dumbfounded. “Who is on heroin or vodka?!”
He answered, “The Child, so he doesn’t scream. The women will be sitting whole day with him, imagine how he might get bored?
In order to make the baby slept the whole day, it pumped up with vodka or drugs. Of course, children’s bodies are not able to cope with such a shock. And children often die. The most terrible thing – sometimes children die during the “working day”. And imaginary mother must hold another dead child on her hands until the evening. These are the rules. And the by passers-by will throw some money in the bag and believe that they are moral. Helping the mother alone.”
The next day, I was walking near the same underground station. I built up journalistic confidence and was ready for a serious conversation. But the conversation didn’t work out. Instead, it turned out the following way … the woman was sitting on the floor and in her hands, she was holding a different child. I asked her a question about the documents of the child, and, most importantly, where was the child from yesterday. She simply ignored me. My questions were not ignored by passers-by though. I was told that I was out of my mind, questioning a poor beggar with a child. Eventually, I was escorted out of the station in disgrace. The one thing that remained was to call the police. When the police arrived, the beggar with the baby had disappeared. I stood with a full sense of “trying to fight windmills.”
When you see in the subway, or on the street, women with children, begging, think before you hand them your money. Think about it, that if it wasn’t for your hundreds of thousands of handouts, the business like this would have died. The business would die and not the children, pumped full of vodka or drugs. Do not look at the sleeping child with affection… See horror… Since you are reading this article, you know now why the child is sleeping in beggars hands.
(For those wondering, this article seems to have been circulating the internet for at least 5 years. From what we could find, the article originated here and was written by a woman named Amitaflou Lagod.)