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beggars can’t be choosers – or can they?

Athens, Greece

 

Before the ignition is even turned off, one little girl is forlornly looking into my open window. In Greek she asks for money, “ena” for drink, fingers clenched, thumb pointing to her mouth, thumb nail brushing her lower lip. 
She flashes a smile; there are more gaps in her young mouth than I’ve ever seen, and the remaining teeth are both crooked and brown.
”Please, just one euro, I’m so thirsty,” she implores.
And her sister appears at the passenger window. Actually, “appear” is somewhat of an understatement – she virtually climbs in!
She uses the same script.

I want to treat them both with dignity.
I do not want to encourage their behaviour, but it’s hardly their fault.

Mboy6 is at the back window of The Bear Cave parked in front of us. He is signalling frantically that someone is trying to climb in my window now!

I engage them in conversation.
”Mama?”
With a heavenward glance I guess the story goes that she is dead.
”Papa?”
Oh, Papa is at the beginning of a big sentence, which I totally don’t understand.
But enough of this chatting nonsense, these girls want money. For drink.

We get a spare bottle and fill it with water, offering it to the first waif.
She looks nothing short of horrified. No, not water! She declines to take the proffered liquid. But her sister, or partner in crime, is more eager. Although the scowl on her face is at odds with her eagerness, she stretches her arm into the van.
She grabs the bottle and surveys it for just a moment.
Then she takes the lid off and pours our precious water on the ground. Not content with this display of ungratefulness, she spits on it and tosses the bottle over a fence.

They both try once more to con some money out of us before running off to annoy an old man across the street. He just winds his windows up.

As we sit, waiting for Rob who seems to have got lost in the supermarket, we look around, observing our surroundings, and we notice three glamorous ladies, in clothes far finer than ours with high heels and long hair, shiny black. It soon becomes apparent that they are connected to the urchins. There is one more “big girl” in addition to the two, who accosted us, and half a dozen little kids, one naked, all semi-scruffy, playing with an impressive four-wheeled ride-on car, whiling away the time until they grow up the ranks to presumably start their own begging some day.

What hope is there for them to know any different life?
Should we want them to?
Is there anything we should/could do?



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