Every time you put your hand in your pocked for getting your wallet if you wish to purchase something anywhere in the city, a couple of little and not so little boys and/or girls follow you asking you to buy what they offer or literally asking for alms. This unwanted gatherings oftentimes makes you feel so conspicuous that you may even forgo the thought of buying what you want much less giving a few Afs to any of them approaching to you because there will be another, and another, and another.
The other day a young boy approached me while I was walking in the city center persistently begging me to buy the chewing gum he was selling. In response I told him, I have got no change now, maybe next day. His response was bewildering as he replied back and said:"You said that last week also uncle, now you have to buy." It made me laugh, and prompted me to buy from him, but this was not the end, another little boy with a box of chewing gum came forth and asked me to buy from him also which I duly refused. Noticing they were actually beggin, it stroke me and woke me up to a bitter reality: the changing trend of beggingg.
Many of you might have come accross a heart breaking scene of a little boy crying over a dozen of eggs which he has apparenlty broken; or a young little boy sedated by poppy oftentimes by the women who are begging to help their sick children; Or a man cleanly shaven stoods up in a mosque claiming he is disabled and has no money to buy a loaf of bread for his children. The examples are as many and as diverse.
This might sound ironic, but if you look at it from a different perspective you see a bigger social issue. The city streets are infested with beggars majority of whom are young kids barely in their teens. In a country where the majority of its population is comprised of youth, seeing an abundant quantity of them reduced to mendicancy raises a great concern for the prosperity of a nation so devastated by decades of conflict.
Although begging was outlawed by the government in November 2008, there has not been any decline in the number of the beggars in the city. The trend has changed, but the trendsetters are the old people in the business. Do not be surprised if I mention begging as a business. In an IRIN report back in 2008 Ghulam Ghaws Bshiry, the deputy ministr for Labor and Social Affairs Ministery had said that “Not all those who beg on the streets are actually beggars, we found up to US$1,000 on some of them [beggars] when we tried to collect them from the streets.” This shows how lucrative a business this has become, and who knows many of those young children on the streets work for a particular group forcing them into begging.
Now comes the real dilema of whether to help them or not. Coming accross a boy who has lost the eggs he was supposed to sell to earn a dime or two, or the women with a sick child, everyone would want to help them and take away a little bit of their misery. However if you look it sans emotions, we in a sort are encouraging them to continue what they are doing as it seems to be an easy way of earning.
As a socially responsible citizen and human being, I leave you with this question, as to how can we devise strategies to help eliminate this inglorious phenomenon?