– By Eniola Salaudeen

Like a flash of light striking a deep darkness, the thought of it had struck my clouded mind: that the people I give alms to are able-bodied men; men who beg with both uninjured hands stretched out, men so energetic they run after me when they see me make a gesture of giving. Men with both eyes with which they watch their steps from their home to their ‘begging spots’. And I wondered there and then, on my way to Kunle Ara, if I was making the society a better place, by giving. If I had not become one of those whose sentiments have clouded their reasoning, those who say ‘no one likes to beg, they are probably in situations that warrant it’

 Sieving through the past week, I came to realize that I had given money to the same man at different times, each time with a different version of his story. Once, the reason for the ‘fund raising’ was an hospitalized wife, at another time, it was an hospitalized child. And the other ‘fund raising’ days, I no longer remember what his reason had been.

I would not have been so bothered if it had not occurred to me that this act, the act of reaping where you never sowed, of ‘easy money-ness’ has become a thread among the younger generation.  There are now so many kids springing up from every corner of the town with their own stories for their fund raising: stories of being orphaned, of hunger, of neglect. Stories which apparently, were well thought out before presentation.

 What I feel is not anger, it is FEAR.  It is fear for the future. For what becomes of a future whose present is breeding kids who see nothing wrong in feeding from deceit? Kids who think it is okay not to work but eat from people who are doing the work. Kids who, when the proceeds from begging is no longer enough for their up keeps, would graduate to swindling. What am I typing? Is telling a tale of sympathy to rip people of their money not a form of sympathy?

     And coming back from Kunle Ara, on that afternoon ,when the weather was warm and allowed me take a walk, I had decided that I would no longer be a part of it. I would no longer allow my sentiments cloud my reasoning. I would give no more to those kids,  because doing so would only reinforce in their minds, that “you can reap where you never sowed.” And those adults, I would close my eyes to their existence except they were blind, crippled, deaf and dumb all at once…. now that’s extreme!

 All in all, I will give to the physically challenged; people who obviously are too challenged to take on the challenges of life. But, I will not  play a role in this menace of grown, healthy adults who have turned begging into a profession. 

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