26 November 2011

Not a tourist attraction

Volunteers from the Salvation Army walk around the Red Light District several times a week bringing coffee to the women who are working behind the windows. In the middle of handing out coffee to one of the women, a group of tourists interrupted, asking "what are you doing?"

Having been brought up to be polite to others, even strangers, I began to answer the question. But then I stopped myself. Wasn't it obvious what was being done?!? Who couldn't see that coffee was being passed out to the women - from the hands of someone wearing a Salvation Army coat?

Since it was obvious what was happening, I had to wonder why the question was even asked. It reminded me of the sort of question that would be asked in the middle of a tour. And when I realized that, I wasn't sure with what kind of emotion I should respond: surprise, disappointment, anger, sadness or confusion. I know that the Red Light District focuses on tourism and in the evenings the streets are filled with foreigners. Nonetheless, I can't help but wonder what's wrong with things when giving someone else a cup of coffee could be seen as just another tourist attraction.

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