Street beggars and vagrants [Archives:2007/1089/Reportage]

September 27 2007

By: Saddam Al-Ashmouri
For YemenTimes

We have gotten used to seeing children between 9-15 years of age begging; however not in groups. For the first time, I found a group of begging children in the streets that they call home. Some of them are orphans, with nowhere to go. Others found the street to be kinder than their homes and their families.

Father's absence and stepmother's wrongfulness

Mohamemd Yahya Al-Sa'eri, 12, who joined the ranks of the impoverished three months ago, noted that he left the house and came to this street to escape the problems with his stepmother. He hinted that she abused him and did not want to take care of children of other women.

He added he left school after the second grade and now he just searches for food and then returns back to spend the night with his fellow comrades in the street.

Abdullah Ali Azab, 14, who washes cars, declared he spent a couple of nights in the street and none bothered him, maintaining he resorted to the street to escape harassment by some shop owners.

Azab noted he gets a fair amount of money; however, he is exploited by some people as they know he has none to protect him. For this reason, he decided to gather as many followerds as possible and now they are 17 divided into groups. He left his house three years ago and knows nothing now about his family, or the place in which they live.

Omar Nasser Al-Hafashi, 12, left his house after his father abandoned him. Now he roams the streets, searching for things to eat.

Unlike other vagrants, Omar, does not like to beg, wash cars or do the jobs his other fellow vagrants do. He waits for his friends' coming back as to bring him food. He stated that he was many times subjected to sexual harassment.

Prior to his coming to this street, Al-Hafashi used to sleep in an old car in a workshop. He noted he dreamed to be a teacher, however, in vain. Now, he wished he could find his family.

Struggle for life

Struggling for life is a norm and living on waste is the last option for Hasan Al-Harazi, 14. He spends his day collecting empty water and Pepsi cans from garbage.

Al-Harazi is attacked by dogs when searching the garbage and he was many times beaten by cleaning workers who believe that they have the sole right to these recycled materials.

Al-Harazi's father's mental illness caused him to leave the house and he knows now nothing about his family; however, now, he wishes he can meet his family once again and bring them together under one roof.