Monday night. The disparity between the haves and the have nots is more present here in Beijing. What complicates it is the huge influx of people coming into the city from the countryside. They’ve heard about the booming Chinese economy and want a piece of it. Part of the reason for the increase in begging, hustling and prostitution. Not enough jobs for all the people, and you have an economy that isn’t doing good. Granted, we’re also in a part of Beijing where there is a lot of money, so any smart hustler will be here. Still, there are a lot of people in need. Lots of kids, young kids under age 5, on the street.
What does one do? Last time I was here a person on the team witnessed a kid get a beating because they hadn’t earned any money begging from that particular team member. What would you do then? The kid comes back to you begging for money, and you’ve just seen them get beaten because you hadn’t given them anything last time.
Tonight, a mom chastises her kid (under age 4) because she isn’t begging forcefully enough to us. It’s freakin’ Slumdog Millionaire in Beijing.
I know kids can hustle. I’ve seen that clearly over the years. It comes to mind in Romania, where the kids begging on the square are making lots of bank. This isn’t that. I’m talking kids here under 5 years old being abandoned and forgotten.
I need to add that this isn’t anything new to me. I’ve seen poverty, I’ve been in and around it all over the world. I’ve seen it in Omaha. Heck, sometimes your chastised for giving to people on the street back home, rightly or wrongly. Over here, there is no Open Door Mission for the forgotten. By any means necessary, people looking to survive. For every parent that’s using their kid as a tool to earn a living, there are thousands more looking for any handout so their kid can survive.
We were at the Forbidden City today and the influx there of beggars and hustlers was crazy since last time I’d been there. It’s like walking a gauntlet to get to the entrance. We passed by a boy who couldn’t have been much older than Liam. He has two tumors the size of croquet balls growing from the back of his head, and the veins on his arms are beet red and jutting out. I saw him and reacted, “Oh, Lord Jesus.” His mom (I believe) is sitting on the ground, rocking this boy and trying to give him comfort. He’s in pain. She’s practically weeping, and she’s there because it’s her only hope to get some money to help out. It’s where tourists are. I wanted to empty my wallet, but there would’ve been a mob then. We were already being hounded by people trying to sell us their wares, and beggars were trailing us. I kept walking, and I prayed.
Joe Hearn and I talked about getting a hundred $1 RMB and handing them out to those with kids sleeping on the streets. What’s it do? Are we enabling? Believe me, we’ve discussed that ad nauseam. I don’t think the three year old is trying to pull a fast one over on us.
I never remember it being like this in Beijing.
Getting propositioned is now a routine occurrence.
We go to the orphanage tomorrow. Most of the kids there are due to being abandoned because they are a girl or have some handicap. (Over 95% of abandoned kids here are girls.) Survival of the fittest in a nation with a one-child policy.
The need is great here.