Small Things (to give to children)

#1 Jul 22nd, 2007, 11:27
Join Date:
Apr 2007
  • luna is offline
Can anyone recommend small things to give to children? I remember when we went to Indonesia, the children in the rural areas were always asking for pens. It was such a small request and if I had known, I would have brought a ton!
#2 Jul 22nd, 2007, 13:47
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Oct 2006
On the move
  • Familyonthemove is offline

There's lots of views on this - but I was on a charity bike ride across Cambodia a few years ago, and the local organiser asked us to not give things to the kids as it promotes a culture of begging.

Also - there's the issue that many kids and babies are used by street gangs to raise cash via roadside begging. It's a difficult issue with no clear answers - but I feel that giving only leads to more kids on the street.

One thing - if there's room in your luggage - good quality children's clothing that been 'grown out of' is one option? But you may want to give this to the parents when you get to know the people in the areas you visit?

School equipment is another option - pens, pencils, rulers etc - so long as they are local kids and not professional beggars.
#3 Jul 22nd, 2007, 14:20
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Sep 2001
  • steven_ber is offline
I agree, it may be better to give to a local school.

I took a load of pens, pencils, books (bought locally), english coins, and London Underground pocket maps (and a poster size map) to a school in a remote mining town in Upper Assam.

I took 30 of everything, 4 different coins, 30 of each, I think there were only abour 20 kids in the school though.

I don't know how useful the things were, the maps were colourful and I hoped the kids would be interested enough to try to learn a bit of English.

I also hoped the poster size map would be useful for the teacher.

So if you see a London Underground map in Assam (I also handed some out in Kerala & Bangalore), you know where they came from.

Maybe you could collect a load of Subway maps from NYC. (you can ask a station supervisor for a poster size map)
#4 Jul 23rd, 2007, 00:16
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May 2003
Northern California
  • wonderwomanusa is offline
I do not like to encourage children to beg, and don't carry anything for those kids who chant: "one pen. one pen."

But I do carry small things for children met along the way ... families who have befriended me, or kids staying in the same hotel, for example. Or the young girl who took me to see her family's rose garden in Pushkar.

For these kids, I carry small boxes of crayons, cute little hair clips and ribbons for the girls, and tiny cars, if I can find them. There's a BigLots store near my home (, Brand Names. Closeout Prices.) where these things are available for very little cost.
#5 Jul 24th, 2007, 08:24
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Feb 2007
Newtown - Sydney
  • kristinm is offline
How about little Australian flags, koala or kangaroo pins etc? I was thinking about taking something like that for the same reasons, I hope we'll meet kids along the way.
#6 Jul 24th, 2007, 08:27
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Jan 2005
  • machadinha is offline
I think stuff from your own place (doesn't need to be elaborate) will be greatly appreciated yes.

See also Steve's above, excellent advice (as well as the others btw ).
#7 Jul 24th, 2007, 08:58
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Mar 2002
Australia, New South Wales
  • Shark is offline

If you are travelling from Australia may I suggest anything cricket. Including player profile cards, Steve Waugh T shirts are a hot item particularly with older kids and adults.
#8 Jul 24th, 2007, 09:45
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Jul 2007
  • Prits is offline


I implore you - Please do not hand out anything directly to local children. This makes them feel that foreigners are an easy source of 'goodies' and the last thing India needs is more begging, more dependency.

Having got used to hand outs (pens, bottles, sweets) from foreigners, the kids in Rajasthan actually show signs of aggression if their 'demand' for a pen is turned down. I have seen this first hand.

I know its easy to want to give something directly to a poor kid and make them feel special, but you're only doing more harm than good. Please dontate to a children's charity or an orphanage; there are some very good ones in India. Clothes, money, food is always welcome.

This said, if someone's parents help you out in some way or you develope a relationship with a child, its okay to give them a gift (an australian souvenir or whatever). But randomly doling out goodies is really really bad for the child in the long run.
#9 Jul 24th, 2007, 10:34
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Feb 2007
Newtown - Sydney
  • kristinm is offline
OMG of course - cricket stuff (der) I'll take some of that with me. Not sure if I could run to the T Shirts, but some cards and so on - and yes Prits I agree, the little gifts would be more for kids that we make friends with, or whose parents we might meet or so on. As we'll be travelling with our 12 yo son, I guess we'll pick up the odd kid along the way for a game of cricket or a play.
#10 Jul 24th, 2007, 10:51
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Sep 2001
  • steven_ber is offline
Originally Posted by kristinm View Post OMG of course - cricket stuff
I don't know about Australia, but in England there are loads of charity shops and 'car-boot' sales, each with countless numbers of 2nd hand books and other things, I just love these browsing through these places.

I always keep an eye open for things that will interest someone in India, and cricket is always a good subject, though I think the adults will be more interested than the children.

I found the following a while back.

All India cricket tour of England, 1946
#11 Jul 24th, 2007, 11:17
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May 2007
New Delhi, India
  • shashank.aggarwal is offline
Originally Posted by steven_ber View Post I took a load of pens, pencils, books (bought locally), english coins, and London Underground pocket maps (and a poster size map) to a school in a remote mining town in Upper Assam.

Appreciate that Steve..Great work !!

A true gentleman's thought...

This way you helped in your own little way and I am sure this will have a lot more impact then giving Pen Or other things to poor kids..
Foodiye - If you are looking for Indian Recipes and Eating out suggestions.
#12 Jul 24th, 2007, 14:27
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Oct 2004
Chennai, India
  • Nick-H is offline
Despite my easier-going-than-some attitude on the begging threads, I think Prits has a very good point.

I recall being surrounded by kids wanting to have their photo taken when stopping in one village to see the view. To my surprise, they were happy just to have the interaction: they never asked for a thing.

I wonder about this stocking up with stuff for Indian children. Why? Do people give small gifts to their local children?

I think it has already been said that it is different if you are invited to visit a family. That's a great occasion for the trinkets and the foreign coins

Steven's solution seems, to me, to be a very good one. And these things can be bought locally for much less than bringing them with you --- and supporting local businesses too!
Life gets aadhar every day.
#13 Jul 24th, 2007, 14:56
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  • bijapuri is offline
Buy your pens in India- they are dirt cheap, 5 or more to a dollar. You're not doing ther kids any good, tho- pens are no big deal, it's just tout training.
So if you do give them pens, don't complain EVER about being pestered by adults to "just look in my shoppe madame" or any other time wasters you will encounter.

#14 Jul 24th, 2007, 18:35
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Aug 2006
  • fsg is offline
Totally agree with Prits. Its normally the middle class kids who go to private schools with a row of pens in their top pocket who BEG.
My response is Are you a beggar?
That shuts them up BUT if you want to give take a packet of baloons.. weigh nothing and dont ast too long, but fun at the time, and is a good kind thought
#15 Jul 24th, 2007, 19:03
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Sep 2005
  • vandy is offline

Gifts for kids

Hi there, I visited a few schools whilst travelling in Kerala,

And also visited a friends orphanage in Bangalore,These are the
the places where I gave away heaps of stuff,it was satisfying to
see the smiles on their faces.Also gave to what looked like
underpriveleged kids along the way.

I can assure you a Pen & Notepad from Australia is a far bigger
talking point than a pen from the corner shop.

Great Idea of Aussie souvenirs, they'll love it.

All the best & have a wonderfull trip

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