By Martha Etale
Begging in Nairobi is as thriving as any other enterprise. Through the streets of Nairobi disability has taken it as a permanent way of getting a “job”. As you move around the streets, you see a beggar and the beggar sees you as an investment.
It is 6 am. Nairobi is already up and running. As usual, people are in a rush to beat the morning traffic. But one thing will always catch your attention, beggars. In strategic corners, streets, and pavements, one will not fail to spot one or two, on wheelchairs, walking sticks, and even crawling on fours.
Through the scorching sun during the day, like anyone else, you have to endure any hardship in your job to get what you want. In the end, the disabled get to have a really tough day at their “workplace.”
But where do they come from? Nairobi County Executive for Education and Gender Janet Ouko says most of the street families are not from Kenya but the neighboring countries of Tanzania and Uganda after complaints of a huge presence of foreign beggars in the city center.
Begging is now a business in the city that involves the high and the mighty. Some Kenyans are said to have “employed” the said beggars who must present whatever they might have “harvested” during the day to them.
A local station once uncovered a couple from Tanzania used disabled children to get money from the CBD. The couple had rented a house in the Umoja estate and estimated to begetting about 20,000 per day. They had even bought a saloon car in which they used to drop the kids in the morning around 5 am and the car would pick them up return in darkness and collect the children who are aged between 12 and 17.
Roseline Achieng who owns a boutique along Koinange street says the beggars do not work alone.”Have you ever wondered why particular beggars are always stationed in the same place and on the same streets every day without interference from other beggars or County Council Askaris? She paused.
According to her, the beggars usually enjoy protection from the County Council askaris, the city is zoned.
Most of the beggars are seen around Tom Mboya street, Moi, and Kenyatta avenues since it is believed that the people operating within these streets have money. What puzzling about the grapevine however is the emergence of a new breed of street boys who are not contented with begging, they have taken over the main streets on weekends they mostly ply their trade on Sundays when they target and attack women on their way to and from the church.
The business is catching up in which mainly women who are employed as casual laborers and maids in industrial areas are turning to professional beggars. They come to the streets at night after their daytime jobs, accompanied by children to whom they send to beg for money from passersby.
There are others who come with all sorts of tricks displaying sick children pretending to suffer from terrible diseases, having lost their families or just lost in town and would like to get money to travel back home.
Kenyans are to be blamed for encouraging people to beg since individuals have taken begging to be their work since Kenyans are becoming too generous the beggars will always dress in the tattered garment to arouse sympathy on the other hand they live well and flourish their business. In Nairobi, everyone is striving to live and try every possible angle to cater to their needs, in which people who got sympathy gift should try not to be extremely generous.