Manners of Begging [Archives:1998/02/Reportage]

January 12 1998

By Mohammed Hatem Al-Qadhi,, Taiz
Begging has begun to acquire disturbing dimensions in the life of our society. Going through the streets of our cities one can not fail to notice this phenomenon. It is actually a very serious problem that needs prompt address. Wherever you go you will find yourself at the mercy of those beggars who know well enough how to evoke a sense of pity in you and make you part with some money for charity. Wherever you go, you listen the oft-repeated phrase “Lellah” or “Hak allah” which means money for God. They sometimes even hold your hands firmly and refuse to release you before dispensing with “Hak allah.” In return, they start lisping prayers asking God to forgive you and give you much more in return. This is the time-tested model operating on securing your sympathy. What is worse is that those beggars are not bound to the streets as a public place to beg, rather they have begun to go to houses, schools, universities and other institutions. We aren’t exaggerating if we say that they even disturb teachers and professors in their classes asking for help. The menace is actually indescribable.
As a matter of fact, many people who are very much concerned with this social problem think that begging has become a profession and a way of life for a good number of people. They have undoubtedly found their salvation in it. In fact, it has become a profession that needs some techniques and strategies so that a person can get experienced in it, and accordingly it will be a way to prosperity and comfort. What is actually happening is that some people stay at home, chew qat and send their children to beg for their expenditures. This is not to say that there are no people who genuinely need some help. On the contrary, there are a lot of needy people, but they seldom take to the streets. They prefer to die of hunger than to ask for help. Honor prevents them from seeking alms.
One important point that should be highlighted is that alms-givers play a very vital role in expanding this social disease in society. You might ask how! When we give those beggars money, we push them forward to continue begging. That is, they become very idle and rely on this easy way for gaining money. Therefore the people themselves should stop giving money to those alms-seekers whatever embarrassments they may face. And in this way they will help a lot in tackling this social malaise. To add insult to injury, it has been noticed that some people go to some houses or hospitals to find some handicapped persons. They take them to the streets to attract the affection of the people so that they give them some money. Out of the daily gain they give a portion to the relatives of the sick persons. One can not believe that the value of human beings can sink to such an abominable depth. It is exploitation of philanthropic values and principles. In this way, begging has become a way of life for such people.
Therefore, many conscientious people think that it has become very urgent to stop or at least check this social malady for the sake of the health of society. Not only that but it plays a very significant role in distorting the civilized image of our society and makes other people astonished to see such a good number of beggars wherever they go. In this connection, it is worthy to mention that Taiz has started taking some remedial steps to tackle this problem. A committee for this purpose, under the patronage of the governor of Taiz, has been established. The solution suggested by the committee members for this problem is first to find out the number of beggars in the city and then decide who really need some help and aid. The help includes many things like employing some people in some factories and training some of them, especially women, in practicing some handicrafts. It is actually a laudable proposal and step. But it needs concerted efforts by both the governmental and non-governmental organizations so that it can be implemented. We do really wish the committee all success and hope that the other governorates follow such a plan to tackle the nagging problem of begging before it gets out of hand.