Dec 14 , 2019
By Kidist Yidnekachew
I have met many people on many occasions who think they know what is best for the greater society, who think they are privileged to pull strings and make the call for other people. These people have the audacity to consider themselves morally right. At times I have found myself on that spectrum but not necessarily because I think I am better than anyone.
Anyone who cares even a little and has the time to let her mind wander would think twice about kids on the streets and their parents of course. I am not here to judge anyone, but my judgmental nature gets in the way sometimes. My judgment is a sheer interest in wanting to know how the mind of an individual or group operates, because I cannot seem to wrap my head around it from where I stand.
We all know how terrible living in the streets is, and we all feel sorry for those people who do. I do not want to presume and say all women living on the streets are aware of birth control techniques and have the means to get it. Some might, but I do not know how many of them know about it.
Some women are forced into sexual intercourse and are raped, because they do not have anyone who can protect them. When that happens, pregnancy could follow and abortion is costly and may not always be an option.
These women give birth probably at free health centres, waiting for long hours in long lines. After that, most beg on the streets to raise these children and somehow these kids grow up. And then these same women, I do not know if they had consented this time or if they were forced, but they get pregnant again. Here comes another child. God knows how they managed to raise the first two kids, and here comes the third. You see them begging on the streets, and they make their children beg too. And these kids are very persistent and demanding; I am sorry to say this, but they are annoying.
They do not leave you until you give them money, and they follow you around making you uncomfortable as if you owe them money. Even when you say you do not have change, they do not get it. I blame their parents for forcing them to beg at an early age. These kids are set up for disappointment and disaster from a very young age. I for one would want what is best for my kids even if it means I would have to give them up or would not be with them.
Suppose I could not raise my child, because I do not have any means of raising him, I would give him up for adoption so he would have a better future. At some point in his life when he becomes old enough and learns he was adopted he might come looking for me and his father with so many questions but the number one question would be why did you give me up?
Maybe he would hate me for making that decision but I would rather him hate me than ruin his future. He would eventually forgive me when he learns why I did it or might even thank me.
Some people might disagree with me. They may say children should always grow up with their parents regardless of poverty. They are stuck with their parents for better or worse. Love would fill in whatever these children lack. But is it really enough? Is it even fair for me to make my kid suffer along with me for my misfortunes?
I respect those women who raise their kids on the streets by selling tissue paper, chewing gum and setting up those mini-markets for vegetables (gulits) or doing whatever work they can find to provide for their kids. On the other spectrum, there are mothers who use their kids as a means of getting money by teaching them how to beg.
These mothers claim they are not giving their children up for strangers to raise them, because they love them. But they are abusing the innocence of their children and are being selfish.
There is one beggar I know who has three or four children in the countryside. She has a farm there too. She comes every month or two to Addis Abeba with her daughter and begs. She has rented a medeblike a place to sleep and she pays around a 100 Birr a month for it. A lady in my neighborhood asked the mother if she can take her child and put her in school. The woman is a nice lady with a good reputation, but the beggar refused and said she would rather make her beg than get an education.
This girl who I would say is about 10 could get raped while sleeping on the streets or even grow up to abuse drugs, but her mother is only focused on getting money. All this while she has a place and a farm in the countryside.
Begging has become a job and even people who can afford to live above the poverty line, who can work either as labourers or have some kind of means of earning a living prefer to beg than to work.
I have heard stories about beggars who begged for many years, and when they die a lot of money was found under their beds. I do not get how people live on the streets begging and then save the little money they get only to accumulate it and die before they can enjoy it. I just think it is ironic.
Kidist Yidnekachew has degrees in psychology and journalism and communications. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
PUBLISHED ON Dec 14,2019 [ VOL 20 , NO 1024]
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