December 30, 2008


If you've ever been to Egypt, you know about the beggars. They follow you down the street, child in tow, or a group of children will surround you. They will come up to your car window. Statistics conducted by the National Center for Researches show that there are around two million beggars in Egypt. It's really quite a problem and they used to have a lot of sympathy from me.

Recently we were privy to quite a show. From that window above Burger King. A couple of women begging in the street here on a very busy touristy road. One had a tiny baby, probably not even hers. In no more than 2 minutes one collected over 100LE. Imagine what they make in a day. The beggars often make a very good living, more than most people make working full time jobs.

The foreigners often don't realize how much they're giving, handing over euros and large Egyptian bills. When a someone gives them money, they tag team and the other woman follows the guy, you know cause he's a giver. Silly me, when I first got here, I'd hand these women a few pounds thinking....she's poor, she can get a sandwich or something...little did I know they were probably thinking "chump change, lady"

It's a shame because a lot of handicapped people beg, because here in Egypt there is a lack of awareness and regulations to assist the disabled, but that's a whole other post.

I really don't want to generalize because there are probably some who are truly in need, but most of them are scam artists. It's really sad because you don't know who you can believe so what are we to do? They often say prayers for you and your children when begging, I pray for them in return.


  1. You know in Colombia is the same alot of times they hire children to beg, and is hard to say no to a child.
    So when I was in Egypt this summer I notice the same. Like you say some of them maybe are really in need but is such a shame that the vast majority of them are not real.
    and you are right they might even collect more than one that holds a job.

  2. i knowww...
    i experienced this first hand in two countries -
    egypt & kenya.

    (they are worse in kenya)
    they will walk up to your car in the middle of busy roads - pretending to be blind - you feel sorry for them & hand over your money - then you notice about 5 mins later that they are definitely NOT blind and just scam artists.

    i know some people are genuine and actually do need our help, but when you realise that alot of them dont you tend to ignore them all - and sadly ignore the ones that do need it.

    plus correct me if im wrong, but i think our Prophet prohibited begging anyway.

  3. and another thing - in kenya they have whole chiild gangs working together!
    i was walking down the street in nairobi and these 6 yr olds was pull on our clothes begging for money with well rehearsed sad faces.
    we had had enough of beggars by then so we had learnt to ignore the children and when they relaised we werent forking out any money for them they (all four of them) all ran back to this one adult in the street, where he pointed out another group of tourists and off they ran to beg off them.

    it reminds me of OLIVER!

  4. Anonymous12:52 PM

    ... you don't know who you can believe so what are we to do?

    That's exactly what I think when I see beggars on the street.Sometimes I give some money,simetimes I don't.It also depends on how much money I have with me at the moment someone asks me for it.

  5. Anonymous12:55 PM

    Another thing...I'd always give money to the disabled.

  6. I experienced it as soon as I arrived in Cairo... I gave to some but as soon as some hear you speak,here come the term "americani" so then they really hound you.
    I gp with gut instinct whether it be a kid or not- I look them in their eyes and if my gut says no, then I refrain.
    And Ange, yes, begging is prohibited....

  7. That's so sad. I had a lady come up to me last night at Walgreens of all places and ask for money for gas. I recognized her from Walmart where she asked me for the same thing. So sad.

  8. Mistika, I know they really play on your emotions by using children and sadly, I think some disabled people are being exploited.

    Ange, it's really sad that they are able to work but beg instead to make more money.

    Jasmina, yea I feel the same, at least the able bodied people can work.

    Empress, that's a good idea as any, and it goes by your instincts.

    Muslimahh, I've encountered beggars in the US too and I used to do online rewards programs and cash out for $5 Burger King Gift certs sometimes and give those, at least you know they're not going to use it on drugs or alcohol.

  9. There aren't nearly so many beggars in Canada, and they aren't organized or as aggressive...but when they figure out a way to attract sympathy, they make far more than most working people do.

    A good portion of the homeless people here are homeless by choice. But there are plenty who genuinely need help, it is a dilemma.

  10. I witnessed this same thing in Saudi when i went for hajj. There were women with a few children following her while she trailed us (and everyone else). I knew how to deal with them from living in syria and dealing with the beggers there. I asked this one kid why he was begging for money. He straight up told me that his mother cut off his arm so they would get more money from the foreigners!!! I was shocked. In the end i still ended up giving them a couple dollars and kinda regretted it as i saw the mother snatch it from "her sons" hand while using the other one to talk on her cellphone..

  11. You are so right,and its sad you dont know who you can trust, but you know what sis? I just give when I can because my blessings come from Allah, so I do it anyhow (if Iam able) knowing that they may not need it but Allah still blesses me for having a giving heart.

  12. Megan, I saw a documentary about people who stay homeless by choice once.

    Jannah, Oh my God, that is beyond horrible. Unfathomable!

    Inspired Muslimah, MashaAllah, thats good, I just can't get over the feeling that women like the one I saw don't deserve nor NEED my few pounds.


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