Candies and kids always work perfectly in the same sentence. It’s now become common practice to reward kids with some sweets if they behave, or simply to make them happy, it’s even become common to give candies to local kids when on holidays abroad. Is there anything wrong about it? Yes, it could be.
Tourism in Vietnam in the past years has not only drastically increased but also dramatically changed its face. As travelers look more and more for the authentic and real experiences, new routes and destinations are available to explore. Places that once were considered remote are now becoming a must-do among tourists. ‘This is a good thing’ you probably think, and yes, it is absolutely a good thing. Meeting new culture, and the real and genuine experience you can get from it, is what makes travelling so amazing. Although there is also a downside.
During the past few years, a different mindset has started to emerge among travelers, the so-called ‘responsible travel’. The aim is to preserve the nature, the culture and the authenticity of the place. Shopping locally, minimizing the waste and the interaction with the wildlife, respecting local culture, choosing eco-friendly accommodations are only a few actions we can do to have a positive impact on the local communities.
Many of these ‘tips’ have been given on the topic ‘how to be a responsible traveler’, but one suggestion we feel like giving regards little kids and the candies in your pocket. You shouldn’t give candies to kids. ‘Why not?’ you may ask yourself. Let us explain why you shouldn’t.
Trouble for dental care
First of all giving candies to people in local and often isolated communities, where the dental hygiene is poor or inexistent isn’t a wise and responsible decision, just as you wouldn’t give candies to your kids. It may look like a genuine gesture of goodwill and probably it is, but thinking over the simple gesture we realize that it takes so little, especially in remote places where the education level is low, to shift from a little trouble to a big problem. Dental care is extremely important, as we all know, so please let’s contribute to preserve the conditions of the kids in those areas where the hygienic standards aren’t too high.
Schools will be neglected. How come?
Second giving candies to kids keep them away from school. Yes, it really does, isn’t just in our mind. Kids are clever, as you all probably know, they know exactly when and where tourists full of candies arrive. And it’s usually far from schools. They gather around them, they interact, take picture, talk, eat candies and…forget to go back to school. As much as it sounds funny to your ears, it’s a serious problem that volunteers and teacher face on a daily base. Organizations that work with kids and plan study programs have already expressed their disappointment towards certain groups of tourists that unwarily undermine what these organizations try to build in the communities.
Experience of other travellers risks to be spoilt
Another valid reason not to give candies to local kids is one of the main discussion points for responsible travelers. Giving out sweets (and it’s even more for money) spoils and damages the habitat that other tourists after you will find. Kids will think that everybody is willing to give them sweets so they will, fairly, demand them. Similar to giving tips, giving candies can seriously harm the environment in the local communities, in particular for those who will come after and will have to face an uncomfortable situation they have nothing to do with.
If you really want to feel special and do some goods to these communities bring in your bags some stationery or some toys. You will see what a big smile these kids have. Doing this you will actively and positively contribute to protect and preserve these villages as well as help the organizations to build education in rural areas. In many already have expressed their opinions on the topic but still many are genuinely unaware of the harm they may cause. Organizations and even hotels are informing tourists on how to behave. They also offer themselves to collect what you may want to give these communities and do it for you.
Let’s don’t forget where we are, let’s don’t forget that what may look like a little trouble for us could be a huge problem in these areas. It doesn’t take too much to be a little responsible and it takes even less to do something in favor of these local people. Please be responsible and enjoy your experience.