I pride myself in my involvement with a number of charitable causes and my aiding my community, be it in Chicago or Shenzhen. I also would like to consider myself as a sort of armchair advocate for the disabled, for regular readers of this blog, there have been plenty examples of this. Further, being someone whose been in China for as long as I have, I know the ugly reality of those who beg on the streets, most whether disabled or not, are sent out by "older brothers" or "uncles" to collect money, most of which the individual who actually does the begging will never see.
The Guardian brought this home with a gut wrenching store on China's disabled children beggers. I can't remember on which blog it was, but I read somebody commenting on seeing a disabled person in the street who obviously needed help, however his fellow countrymen (this was a Chinese disabled person in China) failed to even offer him a glance, so the individual writing the post (a foreigner) felt conflicted whether he should offer a hand. When it comes to those begging in the streets, its an equally tough proposition. Sure, you'd have to be heartless not to take pity on the guy with no legs or the young girl with no arms, but at the same time, you know that the money you might give them won't be seen by them. It would be so much easier instead of giving them RMB5 (okay, expecting you to be very generous), to go and buy them a sandwich or a drink, at least you know they're getting the benefit. At the same time, though, by giving them money, perhaps you are sparing them a beating that evening when they come back without enough money.
So what do you do? Give hoping (or just being naive) that the individual is really out begging for themselves or their immediate family? Or simply walk right past them and try looking away? What about the Mr. Li in the article? Is he a decent person for taking in a baby they found by the side of the road and at least giving the child a home? Is it really that evil for a (step)father from some two bit town in the countryside to talk about his disabled daughter as a burden? In the US it would be considered child abuse, but in China where the disabled, even today, are often considered a burden, plus with rural thinking on the roles of women having not changed much over the past few umm, millenia, its just par for the course. One just has to hope that more NGOs come in and deal with this and the government starts enacting some serious welfare programs that will help these children.
So do you still give to them?