My 2nd day in Siem Reap, Cambodia, as we walk around Pub Street a young girl carrying a baby begging “Baby hungry. I don’t want money. Just milk for baby”. As I look at John, I look back at the girl carrying this baby begging, I sadly said “I’m sorry”. She follows us, begging for milk for her baby. As an OB/GYN, delivering babies and caring for women, new moms-to-be it was all heart-wrenching to see and difficult to say “no’ and walk.
As I gave in and agreed, she walks me to a pharmacy/store to buy formula for $25USD. I thought to myself “That's expensive" and asked for John’s thoughts and he immediately whispered to me, "its a scam" but I wouldn’t believe it, looking at the poor infant in her arms. I ended up buying it for $20USD. For tourists, handing over $20 or $30 to buy a can of formula is a quick, feel-good experience but I wouldn’t say that I did it for the quick feel good experience entirely. I'm a care provider its my profession and set deep in my heart.
Later on that afternoon, as we waited at a local bar on Pub Street to meet up with some friends, our local girl “Linda” stopped by to say ‘Hi’ as she sells her bracelets.
We ask Linda what's the deal with the baby beggars + milk formula. She explained it was a scam etc. As Linda leaves, a British couple, who just arrived to Siem Reap, sits next to us. A baby beggar comes up to me and I declined. She then walks over to the British couple, where I lipped “Its a scam” to them. She walks back over to me, with rage in her eyes and says in broken english “If you don’t give, You don’t take. You shut your mouth. I don’t ask you”
I ignore her and listen to John as he explains to the couple about the baby beggar and their Milk Scam. The baby beggar still standing next to me, kicks me right in the shin and says “You hear me. You want problem?” I continue to ignore her and she says “You tell your husband shut up. You want some problem?” repeatedly as I continue to ignore her. I then turn to her and said “ok. you tell him” and she did followed with threats towards John as well.
After being kicked in the shins, I was boiling under the surface and pissed already, so as she repeatedly threatened me I thought “Wait a minute you just disrespected me, had the audacity to kick me and is now threatening me?? What problem? Bring it. Im not the one lying to people as I’m carrying a poor baby around to exploit for money”
John tells me to just breathe and ignore her, we aren't on US territory & she's working for a mama-san that's probably involved with the mafia.
I try to signal to the worker at the Restaurant/Bar to get rid of this girl and he ignores me. John then tells the worker himself, that this girl is harassing us and that she kicked me. With hesitation he walks over and says something to the girl and she then walks away.
Every night, well-intentioned tourists fall for this scam, thinking that the $30 canister of formula they are buying is going to feed that drowsy baby, allowing both she and her caretaker to head home. Unfortunately, that’s not really what’s going on. All of the formula that’s purchased is promptly returned, with the proceeds being split with the store
what’s the big deal?
Read More about it at: http://www.movetocambodia.com/siem-reap/cambodia-scams-the-powdered-milk-scam/