Nobody wants to beg or to be referred to as a beggar. But in Sierra Leone today begging is becoming an institution or a trade.
The meanest one could do is to be reduced to begging which became imminent during and after the war. Families were devastated, homes destroyed and the economy raped if not completely. That has been a cause and to many it has become a habit.
Begging especially in the capital Freetown used to occur on a Friday when Muslims have their weekly Jumma prayers. That phenomenon has now changed as there are no limits, the Friday representing any other day.
These beggars of course look frustrated and hungry looking for somebody to feed them. Some very outmatched with the goodies of the world and the most serious issue of the beggars is the person that companies them wherever they go-that is their child. The lives of these children seem to be doomed as they do not know anything like going to school- knowing the art of beggars.
Initially, beggars used to be the blind, lepers, disabled and the aged but there is the emergence of a new set of beggars whom many have referred to as “do not want to search for work”. They will either give an excuse that they are short of transportation fare as they are living far away or some will say they have not eaten or have not fed their homes for days.
Interestingly there is this type of beggars referred to as another set of youth man, who will always say to you ‘boss your boys are here’ signifying to drop a note for them.
Every morning in the city centre, you are greeted by numerous beggars which makes one wonder where they might have slept.
Child organizations and the Social Affairs ministry are trying to get rid of child beggars and the aged from the streets, but once as it is said ‘do not let the street get the best of you’ you were there, you are always tempted to come back.
Awoko spoke to Mariatu Kady along Garrison Street, central Freetown, who said “who really wants to be begging it has not been my making, it is because of the war and the hardship of the country. There is nobody to assist and I am the bread winner of the family with three children as their father died during the war and now I beg with them to live.”
An old woman called Nya Kadie explained that things were not that bad for their family of four as the husband was not only hard working but cared for them. “We started experiencing difficulties when my husband died and his family claimed his assets. I was told that I killed him in order to claim his wealth,” she said.