The quality of the photos is not high as most of these are shot from the car. Rome is not always beautiful. It is also a place of beggars, homelessness, trash, food banks, traffic, and always, the one eternal thing is tourists.
I recently cleaned out my closet and donated eleven large sacks of clothes and shoes to an NGO that assists Venezuelans in Peru, Union for Venezuelans in Peru. If you want to donate, call the executive director, Martha, 992-824-991, and she will meet you at the Union for Venezuelans in Peru at Avenida Benavides 3082, which is actually located on the Ovalo Higuereta, in Surco. The building is not marked as the Union has not spent money on signage (the employees wore white work shirts with the name of the organization on them). The office is on the third floor but it was not open yet when I made my delivery. The Union for Venezuelans in Peru will also pick up.
When I chatted with Martha, she explained that the refugees are in need of everything as they arrive only with what they can carry in their hands. She said that many are young families. She told us about a family that were happy as they picked up an inflatable mattress. Makes one think.
In the last few years, nearly a million Venezuelan refugees have arrived in Peru. Thirty years ago, Peruvians were fleeing to Venezuela and not the situation is reverse. Peru is currently in the honeymoon phase of this reverse situation and the Peruvians are welcoming the Venezuelans with resident permits and work permits. Many work as taxi drivers, in restaurants, and some sell candy to make a bit of income (I know one shop owner who gives the candy for free the first time around so that the refugee can build a bit of capital — like the Grameen system — although this shop owner will probably not get a Nobel prize. He does it for the humanity of the situation). I have seen Peruvians buy these candies out of an act of charity, much in the vein of “there but for the grace of God, go I.”
In many of the shops and restaurants, the workers are Venezuelans. They have the advantage that they speak the local language. When I was in Port of Spain, many of the workers were Venezuelans (Trinidad is only a few miles off the coast of Venezuela). This proximity means that many Trinis speak Spanish as well. I actually understood the Spanish better than the Trini form of English when in Trinidad.
Here in Lima, due to the influx of Venezuelans, there are more and more Venezuelan eateries. When I lived in Caracas, I developed a taste for arepas and now I can find good ones here as well. I did not get some after the trip to donate clothes. I had enough food for thought.
Beggars are part of daily life in Dhaka, as they are in India. They are on every street, often with missing limbs, physical deformities, and naked babies hanging from their arm. Many foreigners feel sad and uncomfortable by the presence of beggars. For many expats, the hardest part is when out and about in town. When sitting in traffic (which is a huge part of life in Dhaka), the beggars will hobble their way through the traffic. They will tap on your car window. Sometimes they bring hungry babies to the car. Sometimes, they make eating motions with their hands. If you walk in Dhaka, the beggars may touch your arm and some may follow you. Usually, a guard or policeman (almost every building in the expat areas has a guard and there are uniformed police everywhere) will shoo away the beggars. During Ramadan, the number of beggars surges in Dhaka because they come to where the money is and because part of the Ramadan tradition is for people to give charity (called Eidy). There are many children beggars and articles have been written about how these children are part of gangs run by pimps and that giving money to these children perpetuates the situation. One thing is for sure, if you give anyone money (buying the beggar child’s stickers — a common device), they will remember you for all the rest of your days in Dhaka. When expats roll down their window or keep the door open to give money to the beggars, the beggars will make it difficult to roll the window up or close the door. Sometimes, the beggar will hang on to your leg and not let go even when you walk away. This adds a disconcerting element to an already uncomfortable situation for many expats. The beggars have no time for fear.
If the beggars are hard to handle, you can get tinted windows for the car. Or you can learn to ignore it. The more you ignore the beggars, the quicker they will move on. And never make eye contact.
Normally I don’t take photos of them but I took a few for this blog posting (though not of the countless mangled children).