So I have been on the road for 4 months, and one of my reasons to travel was to find answers to some personal questions that have been bugging me for a while, I am glad to report that I did indeed find some answers, not all of what I was looking for but some at least. However I find myself with even more and new questions to which I have no answer. The following has been bugging me for a few days:
Can I keep travelling the rest of the year in good conscience? Considering that I am travelling in relative luxury, meaning a roof over my head, and at least one warm meal a day, when there is so much poverty around? I mean sure tourism creates jobs, and helps to boost the economy, or so they say, but ultimately the money goes to people who already have money, meaning restaurant owners, and hostel/hotel owners with very little going to the people who would actually need it the most. Sure they employ people who benefit from my spending, but the wages are mostly still very small and limited, allowing for bare survival rather than living a good or even just a reasonable life.
I do give away some money in the streets as well to people who I think need it the most, but most of what I spend goes to those that already have probably more than a fair share depending on the city and/or country.
Can I keep on supporting this two class system? Considering that there are so many poor people around it is just out of my budget to financially help everyone.
Sure I have seen some great places, and have taken many a great picture for memory, but am I really helping with my travels? Or do I only further the gap between the rich and the poor?
A recent example would be Sophia, a woman in her early 50’s who has 4 kids and has been left by her husband, and thus has to support her kids by herself, she works as a street vendor selling necklaces and the like to tourists, she had sat down next to me last week, and we had talked for a while, and I bought one of her trinkets. Today I ran into her again, and as I asked how she was doing she told me she was about to lose her place of living (1 room with a small kitchen that the 5 of them share), and probably by the end of tomorrow would be living in the street with her kids. Apparently she has been going from place to place to find a steady job, but was refused on the account that she has kids, and thus would not be the most reliable worker, as she would have to take care of her kids when they’d be sick etc. I did give her some money, but that is only a small drop into a fire that swallows it faster than she can make it.
So I find myself wondering if I can really keep on going in situations like this and supporting owners that do not care to give a chance to those in need? Can I keep on travelling when I have to say no to many of the poorest people around just to ensure that I can keep on travelling? Sure I did work to be able to travel, but what if I was in the same situation that no one would even be willing to give me a job for whatever reason.
Another part of the question that is begging to be asked, in a place like Peru where a lot of the tourist industry actually leads to abuse of nature, for example in Iquitos where you can eat endangered species, and take pictures with animals taken from their mothers etc. Is that really an industry that I can support? Sure I avoided all these places, but overall I still supported the industry as such.
Any and all input is more than welcome here, as I really have no answer or solution!