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How can I (or anybody) help people begging for money on streets?

I am a college student and want a idea that i can spread among educated people about how they can help people(beggars) and improve their life. We(my team) are thinking of organising a social event with a aim of helping street beggars by making them aware and planning out a solution to tell people how they can contribute.Its going to happen in India.

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    Sep 16 2013: Here's the way my Honey and I decided to approach the problem. If someone begs for food, we buy them food. If a kid says their mom needs money for food, we buy the food.

    If someone one the street asks for money-we decided our quest was to be generous or not. We decide to be generous--what the person does with our generosity is on them.

    Other than that, I carry blankets and jackets given to me in the trunk of my car--and hand them out where I see need. I also work with a local recycle center to take their clothes and shoes and these I give to an organization who helps the homeless.

    My mother was homeless back in the day and I hope if she was cold somebody helped her. Even if she drank it away, I'm glad they helped her because then she still knew folks were generous.
    • Sep 16 2013: Do you really think giving what they want is a solution. In my opinion this can be short term solution but what we are looking for is something that can help them getting their food by themselves.
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        Sep 16 2013: I agree what I described is a short-term solution. Other than that, I write my senators and congress person about the homeless in my community. In other countries, like Mexico, I urge our government to do all we can to make the Mexican government less corrupt. Also in other countries, I look for organizations to help with the problem there...organizations like 'Clean Water' who teach how to build wells. I do what I can then I let it go.
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          Sep 16 2013: I wish there would be more people like you. You really inspired me.
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    Sep 15 2013: I've been to India myself. I understand the sight that you saw in your eyes. It is just simply too many of them to save. But, something have to be done to stop this. Great question you have there. Personally, i think the suitable way to approach is to engage with the local community there at first, understand and find out the reasons why someone (street kids, women, elders etc) would beg for money. The caste system in India and the social built in India is very much different around the world. After the engagement, look for some local authority or organization that can provide you sufficient materials (funds, food or logistics) to make your movement more sustainable and beneficial to the targeted people. My main point of view is the power of education can change their lives provided they are willing to accept the change that you wish to apply at first.
  • Sep 11 2013: People beg because of a certain problem. That problem is the root cause. However, consider that there are other issues to this. I am used to people who beg. While I may want to offer them jobs.. i doubt most will take it or i doubt most will last long working.

    Sometimes they are just accustomed to the life of begging having begged since childhood. To put them in a working environment is not conducive to their personality.

    If you really want to target this social problem, i feel that its best to start with children. They are more open to learn new things. If you give them the slightest hint that they can do more with their life (vs just begging). You have just opened a doorway to change a habit.

    The reason for my views... a good number of the female folks over at mountainous areas in my country despite being high school graduates dream of working as a maid in the capital city. Even though they are educated upto K10 equivalent, they stopped short of wanting to go beyond their capabilities. The society that surrounded them in those provincial areas cultured them to to "want" that kind of job. Its a farming community after all... they have no idea what to do with a college degree in their community.

    If I were to target these population, i would tell them to go beyond their opinion of what constitute to be their dream job. Expose them to college and possible future careers i believe can change that.
  • Sep 13 2013: Greetings Sonika,
    I would suggest talking to the very people you want to help. When you see a person begging (with another member of your team, if that makes you more comfortable), take the time to stop and talk to that person. Take the time that not many are willing to take. What you may come away with is valuable insight into how you can truly help, in a way they may be willing to accept. Begging has been common since the earliest of human civilisation, and has many different variables and causes within different cultural contexts. Asking questions in a collaborative community is a great way to get started. Asking questions and familiarising yourself with those who are in a situation where they need to beg is a great way to gain inside perspectives that provide you with insight, better understanding, and ideally, answers. You may become aware of other issues that may exacerbate the need to beg within your country, your state/provincial region, even your city. You may discover known causes that you may have not considered that contribute to the 'problem'. You may find that there are cycles that are viewed as difficult or impossible to break. You will never know if you do not ask.
  • Sep 10 2013: You are asking a very difficult question. I feel that we have to solve the underlying problems: addictions, mental health problems, physical problems, lacking skills, etc.
  • Sep 16 2013: i know that it is actually a vast field. As some of you mentioned not all beggars are homeless, not all beg for food only..People beg for different reasons.Agree

    I want to concentrate on a small part of it.I am here because i saw people out there on streets in my city who are homeless, begging for money and food,people for whom hygienic food and pure water is something very big dream,people who are living a life that many of you cant imagine even. Their life is getting worse day by day.
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      Sep 16 2013: Sonika, why???

      Why are they homeless?
      Is it mostly men, or women, or both?
      Have you interviewed any of them?

      Are you saying there are no organizations in your country that deal with this, and that you are trying to start one?

      Would you like some links to similar organizations here in my state?
  • Sep 15 2013: My bro was indigent for 5 to 6 years and we were living in Oxford England at that time, my sis and me. Maybe some people do have family like my bro. His friend phoned my dad and He went to look for him and brought him home.
    This happened like 2 times. Then he just was left in his trip with whatever he drugged himself with. Thanks to God we found this Sukyo Mahikari since my bro was about to be left in a mental health house. He started receiving the energy and Thank GOD He came back on his mind. Now he works and help us . Of course this is not for everyone the solution cause it has to be for every family. I am aware not everyone has a family..
    • Sep 15 2013: thank god? which god? the same god who responsible for putting you all in such a bad situation in the first place? thank the people who actually deserve it, the ones who helped you.
      • Sep 16 2013: The God who guided those people who help us . He guides us to help one another.
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    Sep 14 2013: Tell an empty belly what to do or fill it with food and see how much mileage you get out of that person should help you to determine the right path.

    An old saying is, "Give a man a fish and he can eat for a day. Teach him to fish and he can eat the rest of his life."

    A man who is too weak with hunger can do little to change their situation.
    • Sep 15 2013: that only works when there are fish in the river and wood to cut for cooking.
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    Sep 10 2013: Several people in the thread below have mentioned that the situation may be very different in different places. As Greg wrote below, in many locations clean water and hygienic food are not the issue. But mental health issues are a major challenge within the homeless population, and escape from abusive homes a major factor for homeless women and children. Both these situation call for intervention, in my opinion. There are some too who choose the vagabond life, even though they have places they would be taken in.

    In my city, and perhaps others, there is a local newspaper that is vended entirely by "homeless" people. I put homeless in quotation marks, because the vendors include people who would be homeless were it not for the availability of shelters and very low cost subsidized housing.

    Any homeless person who wants a job of selling the paper gets five free papers to sell for $2 each and thereafter can buy papers for 60 cents each and sell them for $2.

    The vendors must agree to a few conditions. One is that they cannot stake out a place to sell from where another vendor is already situation. There is a regular vendor, for example, in front of the drug store and a different one in front of the grocery store.

    Another rule is that they cannot also ask for spare change at the same time they are on the job. And they must behave in law-abiding and courteous ways, of course. They are trained in how to approach customers. For example, if you don't buy the paper, they still say "Have a nice day."

    They police each other at their work in the sense that they report each other.
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      Sep 11 2013: How you doing Fritz? I do understand and realize the good value/point in this newspaper ...thing (writers block)? However, do you believe there is something more that can be done? The extra mile. Do you believe this is the only or maximum capabilities the unemployed/homeless people can do? I strongly believe the missing variable to the problem is the lack of opportunities and not the mental health condition of those who are unemployed/homeless. I'm not claiming you do this but when I look at a homeless or unemployed person I do not stereotype them as mentally ill, mentally challenged, or lazy people. I strongly believe they are all capable of helping humanity in some form or another. What is the newspaper about exactly? I imagine the best thing the paper could be about is how to grow food, building and designing a home, how to BUILD alternative energy sources, and ...anything that could improve their lives without relying on others for an opportunity. This brings me to conclude are we ever REALLY independent? Not at all in todays society, anywhere and we will never be BUT we can only pave a better path than what is present with tools/technology. Educate. We should all never stop learning at any age or amount of experience and an opportunity alone (to learn) should never be suppressed or competed for in any shape or form.
      • Sep 11 2013: It is not that this is the only or maximum capability of homeless. Many of them might prove to be more talented than us if they get same opportunity like we did.Newspaper selling is a good starting and following this way we can create many many opportunities for them :)

        But creating a new opportunity is actually not that easy.I think we have to make them understand and realise so that they try getting some work by themselves.
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        Sep 11 2013: The newspaper is a normal newspaper that addresses issues of local interest. It has the same potential audience as other papers with a progressive slant.

        The newspaper sellers are, in my observation, not at all mentally challenged or lazy. As Sonika writes, it is a job that connects those who do it to the other people living and working in the neighborhoods they serve. It is a job they can get without an address, an interview, or any prejudgment of their potential and has flexible hours, to accomodate other things they may need to do.

        Do not assume the homeless are uneducated. Some are minimally educated and others are educated. I have worked in educational settings for homeless youth age 14-21 and also have worked with homeless students at college and university.
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          Sep 12 2013: I do not assume they are uneducated. They are educated in a way that only benefits the monatary system. The "reset button". What I mean is educate in a way that is independent of the monatary system, an alternative to trying to create mindless jobs..
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        Sep 12 2013: Have you had an opportunity to explore with homeless people in your city what they have been educated or trained to do or what they may be studying? You might be surprised.
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          Sep 12 2013: I understtand. If they were able to become independent of a monatary system we would all be surprised.
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    Sep 9 2013: Well, I usually give money to beggars, and sometimes get in conversations with them, which is a good way to learn about them. Most of the ones I've talked to didn't seem that unhappy with the begging life. Maybe your first question to a beggar might be "What do you want out of life, realistically?" "Is it something you feel you can attain, and how might you do so?" But Sonika, have you actually talked to many beggars, if you talked to them you might find out they're not so unhappy, I mean, think of Buddha, he preached against possessions yet was very happy. In other words, before you try to improve their life, make sure they really want it improved.
    • Sep 9 2013: who do not want hygienic food, pure drinking water, education, a safer place than footpath to live, clothes to cover their body?
      And above all these is they too have right to live a better life.Just because those children are born there do not have right to live a life that i am living.
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        Sep 9 2013: well, I guess a person who is not ambitious might not want education. Here in the U.S., beggars basically get hygienic food, pure drinking water, and clothes to cover their body. They have to sleep outside, which is a little unsafe, but maybe they don't want to do the work associated with having an apartment.

        Remember, Sonika, different people have different amounts of ambition. Some people are ambitious to have a very high quality of life, others are content with less quality.
        • Sep 9 2013: But I think above all these comes "RIGHT" to live a better life.Its not a person who is not ambitious might not want education But a person who do not have a shelter do not care about being educated or not.For them the first thing is to get all basic needs. Ambition is defined in different areas. May be that some are okay with the less quality of life but a minimum quality is there below which imagining life is difficult for many of us but people are there living it. Having high ambitions is taken as a dangerous thing among them.
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        Sep 11 2013: well, in the United States nobody has to beg, Sonika, and there aren't many beggars. Anyone who wants it can have food, shelter, clothing that comes from the government and charities, although it may not be the quality of a rich person it is still quite good. If a person sees someone begging here, perhaps it is because they want money for alcohol or drugs, those are things the government and charities will not give them. So my perspective may be different from yours. But I think it would be good to talk to beggars, in fact I would talk to a lot of them before I go to the trouble of starting an organization, and ask them how they feel about their life, and ask them what change they would want, if any. Have you ever done either of these? This way you'll know if they really want help, and you'll know what kind of help would help them the most.
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    Sep 9 2013: Do you think that perhaps people beg for money for different reasons?

    How can this be a "one size fits all" solution?
    • Sep 9 2013: yes.
      some beg just for their livelihood but some ask money saying they need food but use it for smoking or drinking kind of activities too.
      giving money is not at all a solution in my opinion but doing nothing will not help either.
      seeking for a long term, practical, could be executed at every individual level solution.
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        Sep 11 2013: Thank you for your reply.

        I was going to add more information, but Fritzie up top mentions what was on my mind about the homeless populations in our country.

        We pretty much have the same scenario here in the state where I live.

        Good conversation Sonika.
        I will continue to follow the contributions.
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    Sep 9 2013: Let me start by saying that begging is illegal in india the main reason reason why begging is still thriving is because of poverty and unemployment and two because of a lack of a central Act that governs begging. if you are held for giving alms at traffic signals you could be fined Rs 1,000. But why one can still see beggars at traffic signals,bus stands,temples,railway stations etc etc etc because indian police cannot regulate each and every street so people should stop giving money to beggars.
    Bangalore which is capital of Karnataka has a the Beggars' Rehabilitation Centre (known better as Beggars' Colony) where people found begging on streets will be dropped in to this colony. People inside this colony describe it as living hell as it lacks basic amenities , unhygienic food, dirty drinking water so beggars bribe the authorities and come back to streets.
    Secondly i think Instead of just providing beggars with food or shelter won't solve the problem we should train these people with certain skills so that they can earn money like any small scale industrial training such as tailoring etc so they can meet their basic needs.
    There are many NGO working for this cause try seeking help from these people if you are planning a event it will be a lot easier .
    • Sep 9 2013: karthik, we know their is a problem existing.Begging is not legal but if we want a developed country throwing these beggars out is not the solution.What we are looking for is a solution at college level or individual level that may help them.Whenever a beggar come to me i get a dilemma whether to give or not.If yes then how long it will be continued? and if not what else can i do to help them being a person living better life then they are?
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        Sep 9 2013: Who said throwing out beggars is a solution? Not only developing countries has beggars even developed countries has beggars. There is no solution at college level of individual level .
        From what i have seen there are two types of beggars ones who are physically challenged and two who are physically fit for the first set of people we can setup shelter homes provide them with food and basic amenities for the second set of people one should not give money and instead job opportunities can be provided to them like help them to get a job in a local factory, help them set up newspaper stand or something like that as i said this kind of problems cannot be solved by a single individual a set of volunteers with same motive should come together to fight for a cause.
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          Sep 11 2013: Is newspaper stand or factory work the best of "their" capabilities? How many times do you believe someone should be forced to reset their "corporate ladder" (money) button? I strongly believe many are capable of learning just as we all are. The problem arises when the knowledge becomes meaningless to benefit themselves and others. It is wasted because only the people in those higher positions are able to put what they know to something concrete (competition). There is a limit of personnel in these higher positions many of us experience. Call it good luck maybe?
  • Sep 15 2013: don't support companies that outsource jobs. they try to justify it by saying that it means they can make their products cheaper which is good for society, but that obscures the truth, because what is important is the sales/wages balance. even if something is sold cheaply, that company is then taking money out of the society in sales but not putting any back in as wages, so there are fewer jobs, which means there are fewer customers around and so everyone else loses out much more than they gain from saving money on cheap goods.

    as for india though the best way to fight homelessness is through education. there has been remarkable progress made in kerala where better education has led to a decrease in the birthrate which in turn has led to people being much better off as money and food is distributed among far fewer people. there is a ted talk on it somewhere, sorry i forget the speaker's name though.
  • Sep 15 2013: If you could teach them to pick the pockets of politicians as well as the politicians pick ours, that would be helpful and entertaining. Personally I would pay money just to see that.
  • Sep 15 2013: If you have extra pass it on. Try to remember it is not for them it is for you. When ever you give something you always get more in return, so at that rate of exchange you should become rich beyond your wildest dreams.
  • Sep 15 2013: in my opinion. the best response would be to push your parliamentarians to fully legalise the drug trade in your country, bring the whole outfit under the wing of the medical and tax services. I am deadly serious, as a young teenager i found myself hundreds of miles away from family and living on the streets of London and for years experienced the depravity that this life entailed. Most of the problems leading to crime and homelessness were drug related.

    Once the narco trade has been brought under government control users should be treated medically and prescribed. It is not hard to understand that this would remove the need for a huge proportion of crime and poverty related homelessness and deprivation.

    I know this would not be a fix all solution... there never is one.. but i do know that it would transform poverty as we know it.

    We got to think big as well as act small.
  • Sep 11 2013: Do you have a job?
    Then give your job to a homeless person.
    In fact, give your job to all the homeless you know of, encounter or see in your journey downtown,
    or just around your neighborhood, down my street or up yours.

    Since it is only one job, you can't give it to more than one person and you will soon be homeless yourself.
    What's the solution? Well, there are enough jobs for virtually everyone in the world who needs a job, so we
    actually can put everyone to work, and/or train those to do these jobs.
    What kinds of jobs are they? Well, they are jobs that involve getting our needs met. Our human needs, which are
    the same for everyone. So, each of our human needs is a job and each job is a human need. Solved? No. Why?
    Because we have fallen for the lie that some jobs are more important than other jobs, thus they have more value and
    pay more and those "other jobs", that also really, really need to be done, have literally no value, pay not enough moola to live on, and we successfully separate ourselves from one another. I'm valuable, that person isn't. I'm worth more, they are worth less than me. I deserve more, they deserve less. Interesting, the phrase, idea, "they deserve less."
    Well, then give them your job and do the one they would do. The one you don't want to do, but the one that needs to be done that is just as necessary and important as any other job there is.

    We cannot continue to parse out value to life, human life, the various species of life on this planet and keep the continuing stratification of human relationships growing and spreading as it is: those with, those without, those who are expendable and those who aren't.
    It's pitiful, but then again, we are not civilized beings, nor do we have civilization yet, but we keep believing the lie that we do.
    In reality and practice, we don't have, believe in or use any kind of faith at all in goodness, or a better way or love, because we stop working towards it. "Oh, that can never be done!"
    • Sep 11 2013: Somewhere i read--" All people are selfish, it is just the radius that differs".
      Yes no one will give their job job to other and do another job. They or us think that we deserve more because we have worked a lot for this but those homeless beggars never ever got the opportunity to work for their dreams, all they saw is a footpath to sleep,and dreamt of a place called home.But then how to get it?
      no great work available for them and those available may not fantasy them.
      We may help by creating some opportunities because if wont do ANYTHING it can never be done.
  • Sep 10 2013: Charity might be a good idea but I think it only solve the current urgent problem. What we have to consider is eradications of the fundamental issues. People who beg for money usually live their day with the money they got from the passengers. This situation will not end because it is likely for them to depend on donated money. Finally, they forget their independence in the end. So I think the government should suggest reasonable solutions for this. They have to set some laws for them and find jobs in that beggers do not live their lives as only people wanting others' money.
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      Sep 11 2013: "do not live their lives as only people wanting others' money."

      What excludes you and me exactly? It is the main goal in a monetary system to want another's money! We go to great lengths where marketing is flooding education in a way to obtain someone's money. I personally have more respect for beggars than the people that twist up education in marketing. Don't you? Let's get down to earth.
      • Sep 11 2013: Whisky Delta:) hello! your words are right. I think so too in some part. But what I wanted to emphasize was the importance of being independent. If beggars form some kind of habits which make them remain in status quo, it would be bad for them in the end. The main goal in a monetary system you mentioned is something thatt no one could deny. Thanks for sharing opinion!!
  • Sep 10 2013: My gosh not all beggars are the same. Thus, the response should vary from beggar to beggar.
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      Sep 10 2013: But they do the same "job", they have something in common ,my friend.:)
      • Sep 11 2013: True but there are even professional beggars and those just in need, and..................
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          Sep 11 2013: Yes, but I dont' think a beggar who is considered professional is really a beggar, a real beggar doesn't want to be a beggar, he just has to struggle on the survival line of his life and asks others' help by begging.
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        Sep 11 2013: Begging is not a "job". There is nothing being exchanged.
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          Sep 11 2013: Thank you for your discussing.
          Some beggars regard it as a job because they needn't pay anything , they just beg for other's mercy and money. So do people who give them money ,they think they do the donation not exchange.But still there're some really poor beggars, that's why I put the quotation mark. :)
      • Sep 12 2013: True that is what gives this discussion nuances.
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    Sep 10 2013: By not giving them money but materials needed to have food, shelter, and clothes. Have them unite, put their minds together, and see how well we can do without m-o-n-e-y. That will truly open doors for the world.
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    Sep 10 2013: I agree with geg dahlen. In Shanghai , we also have some beggars on the streets. In fact, we have shelters and hostels provided by the govenment for them to stay, surprisingly some assistant PSB officers often fail to persuade the beggars to go there because many beggars don't want to change their beggar lives. They can recieve enough money from people and use it to better enjoy themselves in their ways. They don't need people's respect and self-dignity. And there're also some crooks who are gangsters using children or some disabled people to earn money. So I think the best ways to help beggars is to change their mind set and stop giving them money. Instead, we'd better satisfy their basic needs with the physical goods or educations. I once saw a westerner buy a cake for a girl beggar,I thought he's very kind and smart to do it. If you give her money, maybe the ugly bosses behind her would take all the money away.And if unfortunately the girl is a greedy cheater, she can only get the food from other people's kindness.
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      Sep 15 2013: Hi dear Yoka, your experience is very informative.

      I remember a long time ago a beggar would stand on a bridge near my friend's home.

      One day my friend made a really delicious dinner, and she thought, I'm going to share this with that beggar. He will appreciate a hot plate of food.

      She was very shocked when after walking to the bridge with a plate in her hand to give to the beggar, he rejected it, and said he didn't need her food, he wanted money.

      I will not tell you what she did then.....but I have never forgotten the story.

      I find that each person living on the streets, lives there for a different reason.
      You have to know who to help. Not everyone begging is least not around here.

      There is also a young man who sits in front of the supermarket almost every day begging for money.
      You want to know why? Because he wants to buy sodas and sweets.
      Some of us who know his mom, have been warned not to give him money, because he is diabetic, but because of his mental condition, he doesn't see the value of eating healthy. He wanders away from home each day to beg.

      It is very sad to walk by him when he asks for money. But it is for his own good.