Friday, December 16, 2005

Begging in VietNam

It sounds funny when I say that begging is a kind of professional business. Yes, It's happening in Viet Nam. There are even people who hire kids to be beggars to earn money for them. Vietnam's government has been trying hard to stop this practice but it seems hard to beat. Lots of people have been arrested, however.

Many kids have been cheated and then kidnapped from the countryside and even in the big cities to be money slaves. Beggars young and old are commonly seen wandering around try to get money, especially in the old quarter. Some young people who are completely healthy but lazy try all kinds of tricks and stories to get money. If they get refused, their attitude changes immediately and they might shout at you or throw something to you.

Some pretend they are sick with diseases like AIDS to get sympathy. Besides these pretenders, there are also lots of people with real reasons to beg but the percentage is very low. Most poor Vietnamese would rather do some kind of job to earn a living.

38 comments:

Vijay Bhaskar said...

It happens here in India too.

mdferreira said...

Salut to VietNam people from Portugal

overlain said...

Same in America, particularly San Francisco.

Andrew Bates said...

Begging is also a common practice where I live...San Francisco CA.
I don't give money but will over to buy them a meal which is oftentimes refused.

leannwoo said...

begging is out of control everywhere. You see people holding signs at almost every stoplight in Portland, Oregon. I used to see things like "will work for food" Now I see signs that say "children hungry, please help" They try and get at you by pulling your heart strings, nothing pulls more than thinking they might be having trouble feeding their kids.

I saw a wonderful lady go out of her way last week to give a man a meal. He was shocked, and thankful. I could see it in his eyes, although he didn't say a thing. I don't think he knew what to say. I was very touched.

Floyd said...

This does go on in a lot of places,but you kinda hate to refuse them I guess some of them is "lazy," but some of it is on the up and up. I see a lot of it in America most in the big cities,but some also in rural areas and have seen a lot with signs that say will work for food.

Kelvin said...

Kia Ora Tu, from that krazy blogger down under in New Zealand - again. Even in NZ, you see older people begging - usually just Queen St, the main street of Auckland.
If you click on my name, my blogger profile will come up. Then have a look at - 21 21 21 Blogs - as I have listed your blog and another great Vietnam blog together under #761.
If I don't see you again, before christmas, have a great one !!! Don't drink too much as we want you to have a clear head when you blog. (hehe)

Louis said...

I saw this is Lahore, Pakistan, years ago. People explained it in the same way and shared their stories about "well off" beggers. But what are people to do if they are starving?

quikquik said...

I saw begger in most of the countries I have travelled but haven't seen many "tricks" as those professional begger in Vietnam, they even could earn enough money to build house..Check it out for the "begger village...it's shocking....

The Reader of Books said...

Brilliant blog. The photographs are fantastic, and I love the insight into a different culture. :)

I've seen (genuine) begging in the Philippines and it's terrible. Little children selling cigarettes, following me for money, sleeping on the side of the road or in cardboard shelters if they're lucky. It's heartbreaking to know they'll probably die on the streets without ever getting a proper chance at life.

And it's quite sickening to think there are people who make an art form of begging; conning people for sympathy and money, when there are innocent people dying out there because they can't get food...

Samer said...

ya sure, some of the beggars are not legit. But I've been to Vietnam and, it should come as no surprise, that there are poor people in the country just like everywhere else in the world. So we have to becareful to label all the beggars as cheats. Some really need assistance and we should give them the benefit of a doubt. just my two cents...

Danny said...

On the contrary, I was impressed when I went to Ho Chi Minh lately(second time), that I saw no beggars on the streets except for sweepstakes vendors. Unlike in my country the Philippines where, although in Manila only, you could see beggars almost every corner of the street. Hope to come back HCM soon.

Danny said...

I wrote a poem for vietnamese Women during my visit in your country. Hope you won't mind posting it here.

VIETNAMESE WOMAN
“Because/no one will come to replace us…”
-Inrasara, the purification festival in april

I walked on the narrow streets of Saigon –
an old woman with black teeth smiled at me,
her songs echoed on the battered brick wall.

I walked into the entrance of a coffee house –
a young woman with white teeth bowed her head,
I could feel her breath brewing with coffee beans.

I walked into the music bar –
a slender woman flung her lovely hair,
I could smell her scent pouring on teacup.

Born with natural smile,
black or white teeth, tiny eyes,
slender body, porcelain skin,

She is a woman with angular face.
Her long black hair flows gently
from North to South of Mekong River.

Her long silken enamel dress
drifts like a flailing white wing
on the progressive streets of Ho Chi Minh…

©Danny C. Sillada
December 1, 2005

jackal said...

the beggar association is Malaysia is even well organized and professional. some "well trainned" beggar can easily earn USD1000 above / month. can u believe it???

Amandaxr said...

Well, I feel that one who begs along the streets are in a way, not only begging for monetary items but also, one's sympathy. It is indeed aspiring to see buskers or other less privileged people work hard to earn their keep, and even if this group of people don't always get more money than the former group, at least they get to keep their dignity. And dignity: is priceless.

Seer of Ardunia said...

Sounds an awful lot like Oliver Twist to me.

The sad thing is that this is real and its not some very famous novel written by a 19th century socially conscious British writer :(

Still, your photos are great. Nice country!

Author said...

nice to hear everyone coming up with the same 'here too' response....note that these beggars are particularly richer than most of us (atleast me)...i have seen / heard cases where beggars rent their house (they own it !!)for steady income...

You see rent is only their side business...really begging is their main business...

comparitively, we are poorer lots.

Ms. O said...

Before I moved to Portland, I lived in Jakarta, Indonesia and saw that everyday for 17 yrs of my life there. Now I live in Portland for almost 7 years, I saw that too almost everyday ...

Anonymous said...

Yes, there are abused cases...but don't forget this country is one of the poorest countries in the world. Infact, there are NO social help at all from its government with the idealism so called “SOCIALIST”.

If you can't help them (beggars), ignore them -BUT PLEASE DON'T GET EXCUSES TO MAKE THEM LOOK BAD!!!

Gia-Gina said...

It happens all over the world. In Italy gypsies beg with babies and children that look like they have not had a bath in months.
Men and women alike beg at traffic lights, they sell roses, they try to clean your windshield for you, they even ask to push your shopping cart back to corral for the 50 cents or 1 Euro coin that they might get. It's all sad.

serenedawn said...

When I lived in Iran this was a huge problem. It was organized and well-protected, and each group of beggars had their "territory". Babies were stolen and drugged to appear as tho they were sick, and the "mothers" would carry the baby around all day showing a "perscription" on a slip of paper, saying she had no money to buy it for the baby. When the baby finally died from the drugs and starvation - another would be kidnapped for the same purpose. It was horrifying.

Godknows said...

Hi all,
Thanks for those comments, yes this is a problem that happen everywhere even though we are trying very hard to help.

To Anonymous, I don't think you read my post carefully. How do you know the Vietnamese government doesn't do anything? where are you from? Hello? Please leave your name for the next comment. My blog is all written about reality of Vietnamese life.

Abhishek Upadhyay said...

This is not a problem of vietnam only. Infact in India there is Begging Cartel that functions in a full swing.In the streets of Mumbai and Delhi you will woman with child in their arms begging. I read from newspapers that the begging cartels"hire" very small children and give to the begging women to have sympathy.
Infact it is my view that begging is problem of all the Developing countries.

Con Cua Me Viet Nam said...

Mr. GodKnows,

I am a Vietnamese American and I have been visited Viet Nam so many time since 1992. Sometime, I had stayed there for months with hope to help my former country and the people of my origins. The more, I visit and stay in Viet Nam, my dreams and hopes has shattered into pieces. NOT only the governments DO NOT HELP, but they slave their own worst than the foreign occupiers such as the French, the American…

“Your written are the reality of Viet Nam” Are you try to kill me with big laugh? Vietnamese living gods or authority would let you writing the realities of Viet Nam?

I have to say "You have a talent and a beautiful blog, if all these contents are solely yours" BUT, the BIG "BUT" that you are coincidently so rich and talent in so many ways.

NOT only you have so much money to spend traveling to places and partying with foreigners, who themselves can only afford once a year. It seems impossible for an average Vietnamese with “OFFICIALLY” salary.

NOT only your blog is well written but the word usages so common use in America. English you can master, but common tone of certain language locale took years to comprehended.

You are also mastered in PHOTOGRAPY, look at all your pictures and compare to most bloggers on internet and tell the differences. Your shots seem to be from a professional with years of experience. IS THAT POSSIPLE?

Lastly, you have deleted my post in Global Voices, which show you TRUE COLOR of Vietnemese Living Gods, Vietnamese Authority….WHO DO NOT RESPECT OTHER VOICES.

Demi Ray said...

They do it in New York, too. But it's not as organized as you describe here. We have plenty of homeless and hungry -- and many people ignore them.

I figure, if I have some money to spare, why not? It's not like spare change or a few dollars is going to make me go broke. So what if they use it for liquor, instead, as the worse case scenario? Maybe the child really does need to eat. Maybe it's not for a mink coat. Maybe that is the only way to inspire compassion.

It is sad to see children used manipulatively, and sometimes, I want to scream at the adult that drags a child into this, but then I observe the other homeless people who know better than to ask anyone for anything, as they build cardboard beds outdoors in the dead of winter because the shelters are too dangerous.

That's just an angle from NYC.

It's good to learn what's happening in the rest of the world.

Fellow Traveler said...

Dear "con cua me Viet Nam",
Who are you and what has given you the right to criticize such a meaningful blog and its author? From what you claimed you did, I appreciate you thinking about Vietnam and trying to help. However, you, as well as many other Vietnames refugees in America, always forcefully place political motivations on every single thing about Vietnam. Could it happen that Mr. GodKnows here simply tries to reflect a cultural perspective on his blog, so that many foreigners from Singapore, Malaisia, India, England, Australia, America, as well as Vietnamese who grow outside of the country, can have an inside look about Vietnam's lifestyle?
Where on this entire blog, Mr./Ms., can you find even one evidence of either politically motivated assertion, or untruthful presentations? Or is this just you, who are too insecure and lost about your own identity, trying to beg for attention? You want to be a part of Vietnam, then act like one.
"con cua me viet nam", as much as your name declares, I strongly advise you to inquiry your true motives, then do none but appreciating the culturally rich content of this particular blog. Because it is indeed nothing more than a place to learn the Vietnames customs. If you can not do that, then please stop barking and disturbing others' enjoyment.
Thank you very much,
-nxh

Con Me Viet Nam said...

Fellow Traveler,

If you didn't read previous comment from me, please read

"Anonymous said...
Yes, there are abused cases...but don't forget this country is one of the poorest countries in the world. Infact, there are NO social help at all from its government with the idealism so called “SOCIALIST”.

If you can't help them (beggars), ignore them -BUT PLEASE DON'T GET EXCUSES TO MAKE THEM LOOK BAD!!!"

And I found this personal insult to my people than a politically motivated. The more I read about this blog, I found this blog is can't be written by the Vietnamese and it is insulting people intelligent.

You can degrade yourself but PLEASE DON’T SELL YOUR SOUL AND LET A FOREIGNER WRITING ABOUT YOUR CULTURE AND CALL THAT WRITINGS ARE YOURS!!!!

Godknows said...

Hi all,
I know this is not only a problem in Viet Nam, but I posted this because I want to write about all kinds of things about Viet Nam, good and bad. I hope you guys think it's worth coming back to keep your eyes on my posts.

To Con Me Viet Nam, I don't know what's wrong with you, the reason why I took your comment from my last post is, you seem to be very negative about Viet Nam and the Vietnamese government, and I have the right to take comments out of my post if I want to. I wonder why you attack my personal life even though you've never ever met me. I am not a political person but I am proud of Vietnam. If you think my blog is not worth reading, please read someone else. By the way, I am Vietnamese, from the centre, living in Hanoi. These posts are my own ideas.

CCMVN said...

Mr. GodKnows,

You are wrong when you said "I have negative about Viet Nam" I love Viet Nam and I proud of my origin.

That's why I am concern about what being written about Viet Nam. What message that you are trying to throw to people.

I have suspicion about this blog is running by the government and its agenda. You and most of media in Viet Nam selling your soul for living, and do not speak about reality of Vietnam.

Every time, when we try to criticize the Viet Nam government, you went offensive. What does this prove? Let’s name a few assumptions:

- You are member of government, the privilege or the living god
- This blog fund by government

This blog maybe your ideas or government’s agenda, but not being written by you, because some of slang being use which only Native American Speaker are used in their writing. I remember someone’s comment in this blog has the same suspicion about this.

I have no problem reading Nhan Dan, VNExpress….blah, but you blame your blog is independently blog but I found it differs.

It seems to be unreal of Vietnamese government, if they let you writing the reality of Viet Nam.

CCMVN said...

By the way, you can delete my comment any time you like, but will prove my points

Anonymous said...

Con Cua Me Viet Nam claims to be viet-american but his english is so horrible. just want you to know that not all vietnamese-american are like that. I do agree that when i went back to vietnam I was depressed by the poverty and for that i do blame the gov't. Communism is a terrible system.

jesus2099 said...

All those anonymous sound really funny and do represant most of the Viet kieu sadly...

They think VN is still the way it was when they left it 30 years ago.

They see poverty where no one dies from hunger.

They think people are oppressed by Governement daily.

Those anonymous are REALLY BLIND people. Really sad people.

If they can't get a life just stay in America and shut up once and for all.
Or build an island far into the see, call it whatever you want Việt Nam Đời Mới or something and let the people live.

Open your eyes, I really don't see what's impoosible with Vietgod here. I know people like him there in VN.

It is you who are laughable because for once you're not here in a conquered field. Not like if you dropped a comment in a FREE VIET NAM or anything blog with everyone supporting you with Poor our people starving being oppressed and so on.

Just get a life and realise you're 90% wrong or shut up.

And please, as someone who lives in america, don't give lessons of freedom and democracy because it's not freedom and democracy which leads america, it's money. American are obsessed with money period.
It's why they see the whole world outside america as a bunch of really poor people.

And not seeing their own poverty which is a cultural poverty.

Sorry people for being rude.

Danny you're right, In Thành phố Hồ Chí Minh, there is not such oftenly a bad behaviour. South people tend to be more honourable.
And in south anyway, there is food for everybody isn't it.

jesus2099 said...

Whoaw, ho rude and pathetic I have been myself then.
I apologize for my bad language and rude words.
But anyway, you get the general idea.

Godknows said...

Hi jesus2099,
Thanks for your words, its so true!!!

ljoli3 said...

Hi there,

This discussion on begging seems to have taken on a rather political edge of late. I too am viet kieu, and the reason that I read this blog is mainly to see the pictures of my motherland and to enjoy the commentary of a person that is priviledged enough to live a comfortable lifestyle that most would envy - viet or foreigner.
CCMVN, I understand your sentiments as it echos some of the very things that I hear from my parents about the political system and in some respect what I hear from those still living in VN. It is said by the vietnamese people that they (govt)will not let you starve in VN, but then again you will never be full. It was also very disturbing to me last on my last visit with my parents to have the offical (communist)guards try to get money from my parents before letting us pass the airport checking gates. To avoid further delay, my dad relented and had to give the communist guard 20 bucks so we can go out to see our family without further hassel. This is a situation that many other viet kieu have relayed to me as well. I believe that this type of extortion is worst than begging, and is one of the many reasons why viet kieu have such low regard for the current government. I doubt that any of their "collections" are going to help build Tan Son Nhat. What a sad comparison it is to the airport in Ha Noi - maybe the funds are going there, who knows...

There is a lot of economic disparity in VN as in many 3rd world countries, but hopefully that will change as the country becomes more prosperous. You can't continue to claim that it is a communist state when everything around is screaming capitalism. The irony of it all...it all started with the poor setting an uprising to battle old regime corruption,just to find out that they themselves were also thieves.

Godknows said...

Hi ljoli3, Sorry, I don't believe your story about the guard tried to to take morny from you. I have so many Viet Kieu friends who came back Viet Nam every year and they didn't have any problems. anyway, thanks for checking out my blog.

hoang said...

I believe in what ljoli3 said. I am just a Vietnamese student now studying in America. In Summer 2006, I went back home to visit my family. When I came back America, I brought 5 Vietnames music CDs to me to present my friends. A check-in staff member at Tan Son Nhat Airport said that these CDs needed to take off or had to pay $20. I was surprised and did not want to pay money unreasonably. He talked about the copyright for those Cds...It's so funny because I bought them from a music shop at Ho Chi Minh City. I told him I would give him $10 and he was ok. However, because I had only a $100 bill and then he gave me back $80. All is the way the staff member at Tan Son Nhat Airport treated his customer. I've never forgot this in my life. I wonder if Tan Son Nhat Airport is going to improve how to behave to its customers better and prevent its staff from the corruption. Remember, you guys always say "Socialism is human's Spring".

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