ADVICE ON FINANCES (in Indonesia)
The below is a little information for people who will be coming to live in Indoensia. It is just common sense stuff, with a little warning, so the adjustment phase of the new life in Indoensia can be experienced with fewer headaches. It is a continuation from a previous blog.

Beggars at Our Door
One lady came to our door asking for money for her children because (she said) they were sick. She is well known in the community for her stories, and for wanting to get money from westerners, mostly new ones. We were advised ahead of time concerning this woman. It is good to have a few Indonesian friends who will teach you “the ropes.”

Beggar

Another word about beggars:…, you will encounter a lot of them. They come in a variety of forms: blind; lame; children; elderly, etc.  Before you arrive, and before you encounter a beggar, you need to already have a “philosophy” concerning how you will respond to them. In some areas it is illegal to give to them, and you may end up paying a $2,000 (US) fine or spend 60 days in jail. Some people drop in a few coins each time they pass a beggar. Some people think many of them should be employed somewhere, or they should be in school. Others have a very bad attitude toward them. What do I do? I direct my charitable gifts so that the community as a whole will benefit, and rarely do I focus my giving toward isolated individuals.  It is safer directing money this way so I don’t become the focus of an individual’s efforts to get all of their personal needs met through me.

Blind Beggar

Scam
A man came to our door one day, representing himself as the community leader (the RT). He said he was collecting money for local social relief work. But, I knew the RT, and this guy was definitely not him!  He was just one of the many scammers out there trying to extract a few dollars.  It is common for small communities to all contribute to local relief efforts, especially when you live in an area that is prone to many natural disasters. The collected money can also go to help those of the local community when they are sick and in a hospital or they have no food. Most Indonesians live in very close community networks and they lean on each other when things are tight. It would be advisable for westerners to lighten their purse strings a little when they arrive, and not fear being generous when the opportunity to help genuine needs arise.

Taxi
It’s advisable not to get in one without a meter. That is good advice for any country. I got in one without a meter, we agreed on a price, then when we reached our destination the driver said we agreed on a much higher price. I ended up giving him what he asked for. I learned later that I should have calmly and persistently stuck to our original agreement, without backing down—live and learn! “Blue Bird” taxi’s have a great reputation.

Blue Bird Taxi; reputed to be one of Indonesia’s most reliable taxi companies.

Bottom line: don’t walk around with the overwhelming fear that somebody might take advantage of you and you end up paying an extra $2.00-3.00 dollars for something. That just isn’t worth the mental stress. Remember, most of the people you will be in contact with are living in severe poverty, and if you are taken for a little, treat it as if you giving them a small gift. Relationships and a good reputation are better than carrying about a suspicious attitude and saving a few dollars.

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