Write-cast – No. 02 | Street begging in Nigeria.

We leave in a society where we value other people’s opinions more than that of ours. We let our surroundings to determine our future instead of us determining the future of our surroundings. We let others to paint the roads for us instead of paint the road for ourselves and that of others – Why is that?

Its high time we start to value and stick to our own opinions. Most people with disabilities in Nigeria are living under the shadows of their families. They’ve been stripped out of their rights and independency; they’ve been let to believe that they’re amount to nothing and that their future has already been determined, and independency isn’t on the list.

The families of those with disabilities are using the tragedy of their child to their advantage. They sent them out on the street to beg for money from the citizens in the society and from strangers. Road accidents and injuries don’t cross the minds of these families. Education and childcare are not on the agender of these families, the only thing on their agender is how they can use their disability or that of their child to their own advantage and make as much money as possible through the child.

In some cases, where the family are economically stable or have someone that is, they tend to carry the disabled child to Saudi Arabia with a pretence of performing hajj while in reality their intention is to use the child to make money from those that come to do their hajj, by making the child to beg for money outside and sometime inside the mosque. The parents of the child are been compensated based on the money earned by the child. Those parents that aren’t fortunate to have someone to use their child to make this kind of money, they normally sent them to other part of the country. These practices are mostly common in the northern part of Nigeria.

One can say religious believes has something to do with this kind of behaviours. The people leaving in northern part of Nigeria are 70 – 80% Muslims and given out charity is one of the pillars of the religion. A lot of people give out charity to the beggars on the streets solidly for religious reasons, they can’t pass them without given them something as a form of charity like money, food, drinks among others. For this reason, disabled and non-disabled individuals can be seen on the street begging and risking their lives for alms. The number of street beggars has increased significantly due to economic challenges people in the country are facing.

One thing that baffles me is, why do people with disabilities put their children in the same route as theirs. If their parents force them to go on the streets and beg for alms, they shouldn’t do that to their children too. They should be the symbol of change for the next generation, by sending their kids to school and not to allow them to follow the begging route, their children will do the same to their own children (grandchildren) and the circle of dependency on others will be broken.

The number of disabled children in Northern Nigerian schools are very small while the number of disabled children abandon by their families are high in orphanage homes. The government is putting little to no efforts in discouraging street begging in these regions. On the other hand, people in the society are the ones encouraging street begging by discriminating and stigmatising those with disabilities. Instead of these people (with disabilities) to prove them (without disabilities) wrong by educating themselves and that of their families, they embrace the stigma in a negative way by accepting defeat and beg those that discriminate them for money.

These communities can help people with disabilities by not stigmatising and discriminating them, they can befriend them and encourage them to put their children in school instead of the street. The parents should be encouraged to get a job to sustain their lives and of their families. Another way to encourage these parents to get a job and put their children back in schools is by denying them alms. It maybe harsh but not given them money on the street will force them to find a better way of sustaining their lives and of their children, like looking for a job or manual work (it’s possible, if there is a will). The government can ban street begging and give these people loan or jobs to take care of their families, which will reduce the rate of hit and runs, and road accident significantly. The public can also try and stop discriminating these people and look at them as equal.

Thanks for your time!

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