When you travel to Eastern Europe, you will no doubt see some very beautiful sights as well as some very unfortunate social realities. Beggars in Eastern Europe are quite common. Should you give to beggars in Eastern Europe? That's up to you, but you can use a variety of indicators to tell you whether or not its safe and smart to give.
Are the Beggars in Eastern Europe Actually Needy?While some travelers have become jaded by beggars in developed countries who beg by day only to drop the facade for a lunch break, beggars in Eastern Europe are often truly needy. There are very little provisions made for the old, sick, disabled, or ethnic outcasts. If they don't beg, often they can't provide for themselves. In addition, physical or mental impairment may mean ostracization from society, including the workforce.
Who are Beggars in Eastern Europe?
The beggars in Eastern Europe may be Roma, who, because of their social standing, often have difficulty getting educations and finding jobs. They may be pensioners who get an income impossible to live on. They may be mentally or physically disabled or impaired - these people have little hope of being accepted into mainstream society, and unfortunately governments appear to be indifferent to their plights.
What's the Best Way to Give to Beggars in Eastern Europe?If you want to give, give pocket change. Keep all of your change in a separate, easily-accessible compartment in your bag, so you can hand it out without loitering. If the beggar is a fake, this will give him or her no time to see how much money you've got on you. It will also mean you can move on in a hurry so you are in less danger of pickpockets.
How Much Should I Give?Give spare coins - those that you got from your purchase at the kiosk or the odd change from your money exchange. Don't give large amounts of money as this will only set you up for a situation where you may be robbed. This is a good way to lighten your load, too - you only need a couple of coins for souvenirs.
Are the Beggars in Eastern Europe Aggressive?In my experience, the beggars have usually been quiet elderly folk who sit and don't speak. There have also been those who have physical impairments who ask for change politely then move on if you decline. The Roma may be the most persistant (they often carry their babies with them to emphasize their need), but they are often more "professional" about begging, so it's to be expected.
What is the Best Way to Determine the Neediness of Beggars?If you have a serious question about whether or not a beggar in Eastern Europe is needy, you may ask the locals (who will probably tell you in a very straightforward manner what the problems are of their society). You may also assess the situation for yourself. Small-town beggars are usually the real thing - the game would quickly be up if the locals discovered they were fakes. City beggars have anonymity on their side, so caution may be advised.
How Do Locals View Begging in Eastern Europe?Because begging is considered a social taboo, beggars are looked down upon by locals, even though their misfortunes may be acknowledged. This is, perhaps, why many beggars maintain discretion and manners.