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Okay… so close to my workplace, there is a group of about four girls almost always by the bus-stop during the day. Once the traffic light stops cars, they go in between and beg for alms. They do this risking their lives… one is on clutches as she has got just one leg. And round and round, she’d go limping with the others… begging, tapping windows and doing all that. My heart breaks every time I see her.
Sometimes I am in a fix: to help or not to help.
I was riding with a friend a while back and there was traffic. This little girl came to the driver’s side and kept tapping the window and pointing to the box of tissues in front begging. My friend was confused. I explained to him that she probably thinks its something edible because of the pack. I reached out and brought out some money to give her. I passed it to my friend to give her and he shot me this look …. Anyways, he gave her and off she went. He then explained to me why he doesn’t support giving them money… He said and I agree, these people don’t own themselves. They are working with their parents or some guys who would collect this money for them and give them maybe food in return. Mind you a good number of these adults are not disabled in any way. Only a few are truly in need. He then goes to explain that you think you are helping the child but in reality you are funding those adults.
That one touched me and this to me is cruelty. I honestly cannot find any other word for it. I mean government education in Lagos is free… yet, these children are being deprived of the basic need of education and are roaming the streets under the rain and the sun.
These children grow up thinking they can ‘beg’ their way through life. Already, some of these children are a menace to the society. I remember one time during NYSC when I was going to Abeokuta from the village where I served. When I got to the park at Ijebu-Ode, this little girl begging for alms, kept following me. At a point, she literally held on to my top! My white NYSC top. I was so livid. I couldn’t get her to leave me alone. She kept chanting, “Hanty na, abeg na… epp me na… please na..”
I honestly had no plans to give her any money and I definitely wasn’t going to bulge under her harassment (Yep! That’s what it is).
I got to the cab I was to board; and when this girl finally released her hands, she had stained my white. I wound up the glass and I was just boiling.
Some of these innocent children have become violent and learnt the street life that they shouldn’t have been exposed to at such a tender age. Then talk about the danger they face on these roads every single day! Like a car can just run into them and that would be the end.
Around my workplace, early in the mornings…some other groups carry the sick and line them up with their ailments in the open. Some of these sickness that one’s eyes shouldn’t behold, they’ll put them out for display and be playing, “Ekueme… Ekueme” or all those songs that appeal to one’s heart with loud speakers. If this isn’t emotional blackmail, then I don’t know. These people come day in, day out: no form of accountability and no tracking. How do I know that this money indeed is being used for treatment? You’re right…. I don’t. So I keep giving and giving and the fellow still remains untreated. Yet, they are on display again the next day
Let’s not even start with the ‘corporate’ beggars. These ones just always happen to be stranded all the time and they mostly state how much they want. “Aunty, help me with #200 please…” I recall one evening I was headed home and this guy was at on the BRT stands. He asked for money and I didnt oblige him because he was pretty young and able-bodied. Next thing I know, some people are discussing behind me about this same guy has been there for days always asking for #100 to complete his ticket money. He doesn’t buy any ticket, he basically just scams #100 from unsuspecting people. This one enh to me is in same family as 419. It is a crime.
I heard begging is against Lagos’ laws but I honestly wish there was some form of social service structure that the ones obviously in need of help can be absorbed and given adequate help.
If I am asked, I’d say beggars be totally eradicated from the road. Or at least greatly reduced. But stopping this also wouldn’t be fair to the genuine ones if there is no structure for social services or if it isn’t robust enough to absorb at least the sincere ones.
What do you think of beggars in Lagos? Is it all emotional blackmail or sincerely, they need help or a mix of both. Do you have a story on this you’d like to share? I’d love to hear them… so let’s discuss in the comment section.
PS: comments and contributions make me really happy. Thank you in advance and have a lovely lovely weekend!