Beggars intensify activities

An article from the Daily Graphic (23rd of February 2007, p. 29), the most widely-read paper in Ghana.

   Offering alms to the needy is not compulsory. It is done out of generosity or sympathy to help ameliorate the suffering of the underprivileged in society.
   However, some unscrupulous individuals are abusing this moral responsibility of philanthropists. The consider begging as a full time vocation to make money. As a result, a lot more people are now resorting to begging as the easiest way out to amass wealth.
   Indeed, the Tamale metropolis is now inundated with beggars. The are becoming a nuisance to motorists at junctions and traffic lights.
   The virtually take over those areas, knocking at car doors and windscreens for attention. The are made up of all manner of people, the blind, the physically challenged, elderly, young men and women.
   Their modus operandi include the use of children and the wearing of worn out apparels to attract people’s sympathy.
   Sometimes they become aggressive in their over zealousness to the extent that they risk their lives and those of their young guides, especially when the green light is displayed, signifying motorists to move on.
   Majority of the beggars are concentrated at the central business district (CBD), near the central market, popularly called Beggar’s (Barimaansi) Lane.
   Their location is thus accessible to people who need them to give alms to. The alms is usually in the form of money, cow milk, cowries and other materials as requested by Mallams and soothsayers who are consulted for various reasons by those offering the alms.

Here comes the twist… [PC]

   According to one of the executive members of the Beggars Association in the metropolis, Afah Mahama Alhassan, “we had to relocate to the junctions and traffic lights to reach out to more people who cannot locate us”.
   He acknowledged that the practice was not the best, but said “we also need to survive and take care of our families, since some of us are bread winners in the family.”
   Afah Alhassan, who is blind and 55 years old, did not understand why some of them who had made so much money from their ‘trade’ should quit the job of begging since he claimed there was no other work for them to do.
   Enquiries by the Daily Graphic revealed that some of the beggars had built their own houses, acquired taxis, trucks and engage in other economic ventures through their ‘trade’ over the years.
   A 29-year-old cripple, Ramatu Fuseini, who is a seamstress, expressed grave concern over the menace of begging and urged physically challenged persons not to use their unfortunate situation to solicit sympathy from people.
   ”If you are blind or physically challenged, it does not mean you are stupid or incapable of earning a decent living for yourself and family,” she stated.
   Commenting on the issue, the Tamale Metropolitan Chief Executive, Mr Mohammed Amin Adam Anta, said the assembly was mapping out strategies to deal with the problem.
   He said the assembly would soon come up with appropriate measures to either relocate or settle the beggars at a central point.
   In the interim, Mr Anta siad the young boys and girls who served as guides to the beggars were being taken care of under a programme to enable them to go to school or learn a trade.
   The age-old practice of begging has come to stay with us. It, therefore, behoves the TAMA and all stakeholders to come together to find a lasting solution to the menace of begging on the roads.

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