Sunday, December 10, 2006

Shanghai - beggars

On my first night I walked past one of the most pitiful people I had ever seen. This man suffered from third degree burns. His skin melted into his eyes, so it looked like he had no eyes. His hair was singed off. He hands were burnt off too. He was a real-life vision of what I have nightmares about. In Malaysia I had seen a whole assortment of disfigured beggars, but none as horrific as this poor man. We gave him money. I only give money to severely disabled beggars. Many of the other beggars, especially though with a cute kid in tow, choose to beg and some make more money than white-collar workers. Although, in Malaysia, some of the disabled beggars are forced to beg by gangs. The gangsters drop the disabled beggars off in various locations each morning, then collect the money from the beggars at night. I wouldn’t be surprised if this happened in Shanghai too.

Some of the cute kid beggars were kidnapped from villages. The kids are usually four to six years old and do not understand what they are doing. They think it’s a game. We found a man passed out in several pools of vomit in front of a Japanese restaurant (there was an all you can eat and drink deal). When the coins fell out of his pocket as Trent lifted him off the street, a little girl beggar rushed to pick up the coins, and the old lady with her tried to pickpocket him before an old man beggar stopped her. Just as I was beginning to think that there were genuine beggars in Shanghai, the old man asked Trent for money for helping him to get the drunk guy off the street.

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