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December 12, 2006

"Test Your Travel Smarts" Quiz

By Wendy Perrin

A second question has come in about the quiz I ran in my November Perrin Report column. (The first 30 quiz questions can be found in Conde Nast Traveler's November issue; the last 15 questions were published online.)  Reader Peacock asks, "Why is it best to give children in Third World countries pencils?"

Here's Question 13 from my quiz:
In Third World countries, when you encounter children begging, which of the following is the best thing to give them?
A. Candy
B. Pencils
C. U.S. Dollars
D. Local currency

B. is the correct answer, as aid organizations worldwide will tell you.

Giving kids candy only harms their teeth--a particularly bad thing in regions where dental care is unreliable or nonexistent.  Giving kids money--whether U.S dollars or local currency--will teach them to stay out of school and spend their days begging instead.  You can give pens instead of pencils, but pens can break, dry out, or melt more easily.

When I travel through rural areas of developing countries, I often carry colored pencils, stickers, balloons, and postcards for the kids I meet. These little gifts are lightweight and take up almost no luggage space. The postcards are of my home--New York City--which I give the kids as a thank-you for letting me visit their home.  These little gifts make the kids very happy, which in turns makes their parents happy, which can open all sorts of doors for the traveler.

Click here to read my Perrin Report on "Giving Wisely" and the right way to respond when asked for money by needy people you encounter in developing countries.


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