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 LETTERS TO GAMBIA – 6 - Please see the beggars
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Posted - 11 Feb 2021 :  09:45:27  Show Profile Send Momodou a Private Message  Reply with Quote
By Baba Galleh Jallow

Please see the beggars

Dear Mother Gambia,

In our last letter we said we would shortly be writing to you about the increasingly troubling question of beggars in our society. Do you see the beggars, Mother Gambia? Do you see the many beggars sitting on all kinds of corners and intersections around town, begging for a living? Do you see that most of these beggars are women - mothers just like you Mother Gambia - some old, some young, some with babies, toddlers, children, begging with them? Do you see children who should be in school following or leading their blind parents around, begging for a living? And do you see the pain and the shame in their eyes. Mother Gambia? The shame of having to beg for a living? You do know of course, Mother Gambia, that no human being can be so poor that they feel no shame at begging. There’s always the shame and therefore the pain that beggars must suffer in order not to starve Mother Gambia!

Have you ever bothered to ask why there are so many beggars on our streets, Mother Gambia? Have you ever asked why so many of these beggars are women? And have you asked whether these women have husbands, and if they do, where their husbands are and what they do for a living? Have you ever asked if these beggars are Gambians, and if not, where they come from? And why? Wouldn’t it be good to know why our people beg and why people from other countries come to our country to beg? Of course, you need not ask whether the children of these beggars are going to school, Mother Gambia. You do know the answer to that question. If a person must beg to eat, they simply cannot afford school-related expenses like school fees, uniforms, books, and transportation costs for their children. And so they watch their children grow without any education, and if they are not very lucky, without any skills or with skills that may only earn them very little, if not land them in trouble. You do know these are your children, Mother Gambia, don’t you? And you do know they have no futures. Or at best, that they have very uncertain futures. You don’t want children without futures, Mother Gambia. You must rescue these children – your children – from a futureless life of misery and pain Mother Gambia. It doesn’t take much to do that, if only you put your mind to it.

And here’s another question for you, Mother Gambia. Is it possible that the increasing numbers of very young thieves in our society has something to do with coming from beggars’ families? Most thieves caught around the Greater Banjul Area nowadays are teenagers, very young boys who should have been in school, but who have resorted to stealing, perhaps because they never had the chance to go to school, or if they did, could not stay in school because of the abject poverty of their parents. Some of us are quick to brand these child thieves worthless vagabonds who choose to steal rather than to do something useful with their lives. But do you see that the case of these child thieves might not be so black and white, Mother Gambia? That some of these child thieves possibly come from families that survive on begging?

Equally troubling, Mother Gambia, is the very difficult question of our invisible beggars. The beggars we see on street corners are only our visible beggars, Mother Gambia. Right in the public eye but marginal to the public consciousness are the vast majority of our public servants who, but for going to work and coming home every day, are faring little better than the beggars on our streets. Now consider this, Mother Gambia: according to our Integrated Pay Scale, some of our civil servants (a police corporal, for instance) receive a salary of about D2500 (about us$50) a month. If you divide that by 30 days, these civil servants would be earning about 83 dalasi (less than us$2) per day. Some of the beggars on our streets certainly net more than 83 dalasi per day. And, Mother Gambia, a civil servant employed at Grade 6 of our Integrated Pay Scale earns about D45, 000 per annum during their first year of employment. That’s less than us$1000 per year, Mother Gambia! If we divide 45, 000 by 365 days, this person would be earning D123 per day. That’s less than $3 per day Mother Gambia, far less than what minimum wage earners in some countries earn per hour!

Now let’s face it, Mother Gambia! Whether they are married or not, a person earning D123 a day must find it hard to survive in this country. Even more troubling is the fact that only after eight years of service will this person’s salary hit D55, 000 (about us$1001) per year! That means after eight years of service, this person earns only about D4500 (Less than us$100) a month! Less than a hundred dollars a month, Mother Gambia, after eight years of service! How can such a person not be reduced to begging, or stealing, or extorting from their fellow citizens if they are so inclined and in a position to do so? And do you know that a civil servant employed at Grade 12 of our Integrated Pay Scale – the highest grade there is – earns only about D141, 000 after eight years of service? That’s less than $2800 a year after eight years of service, Mother Gambia! Now just look at the figures around you and do the math, Mother Gambia. If you do you might not sleep tonight!

We know, Mother Gambia that in Africa, government by begging is the order of the day. Like you, almost all African countries have to beg to survive. It is a sad reality that you and other African countries are the career beggars of international society. It didn’t have to be this way, Mother Gambia; and it doesn’t have to be this way! But until you can stop being one of the glorified beggars of the world, you cannot reduce the people in whose name you beg to beggars Mother Gambia. However small the funds you get from begging and borrowing, they are enough to make less obvious the glaring gap between those of your children who seem to have everything, and those who have nothing at all. It is logical to believe that with some reordering of your priorities Mother Gambia, you can afford to improve the lives of your children, especially the vast majority of our people, who are either visible or invisible beggars in so many different guises.

But alas, Mother Gambia; our cries for solutions to most of our national problems always seem to fall on deaf ears. So far we have written several letters to you, highlighting problems that need urgent attention but that remain unsolved and continue to plague our lives. Horrible health facilities and services, horrible street conditions, horrible driving and indiscipline on our roads, unstable power supply – they all remain unsolved, Mother Gambia! And if a social problem remains unsolved, it can only get worse and will affect the entire society. There is what we might call the logic of the entity, Mother Gambia. By this logic, the entire organism suffers if any one part of it suffers. The suffering of the beggars is your suffering, Mother Gambia. Their poverty is your poverty and their lack of a bright future is your lack of a bright future. So, dear Mother Gambia, please do something about their plight because it is your plight! At the very least, please start asking questions about them! Please see the beggars Mother Gambia!

A clear conscience fears no accusation - proverb from Sierra Leone


12242 Posts

Posted - 11 Feb 2021 :  16:37:29  Show Profile Send toubab1020 a Private Message  Reply with Quote
I found this related article as many beggars are disabled men and women:

Disability in The Gambia

The Point:Aug 13, 2012

Summary of the Situation of People with Disabilities:

The WHO Disability Report in 2011 estimated that 15% of people have a disability, meaning over 1 billion people worldwide, of whom over 100 million experience very significant difficulties. The prevalence of disability is growing due to population ageing and the global increase in chronic health conditions. Patterns of disability in a particular country are influenced by trends in health conditions and trends in environmental and other factors –such as road traffic crashes, natural disasters, conflict, diet and substance abuse.

Disability disproportionately affects vulnerable populations. Disability is more common among women, older people and households that are poor. Lower income countries have a higher prevalence of disability than higher income countries. UNICEF reports that 90% of children with disabilities in Africa have never attended any education. The Gambia’s Household Survey (2003) recorded that 2.4% of people have disabilities, but this figure is expected to rise in 2013’s Survey by GBOS due to implementation of more accurate data collection methods.

UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (UNCRPD)

The UNCRPD opened for signature in 2007 and is the fastest negotiated UN Convention in history, with the highest ever number of signatures on the opening day.

August 2012: 153 signatories to the Convention, 117 ratifications of the Convention; 90 signatories to the Optional Protocol, 71 ratifications of the Optional Protocol

40 African Union States have signed the Convention and 32 have ratified the UN Convention:

The Convention supports the movement from viewing persons with disabilities as “objects” of charity, medical treatment and social protection towards viewing persons with disabilities as “subjects” with rights, who are capable of claiming those rights and making decisions for their lives based on their free and informed consent as well as being active members of society.

The Convention is the first human rights convention of the 21st century and the first legally binding instrument with comprehensive protection of the rights of persons with disabilities. While the Convention does not establish new human rights, it does set out with much greater clarity the obligations on States to promote, protect and ensure the rights of persons with disabilities. Thus, the Convention not only clarifies that States should not discriminate against persons with disabilities, it also sets out the many steps that States must take to create an enabling environment so that persons with disabilities can enjoy real equality in society.

What are the obligations on States Parties to the Convention?

The Convention identifies general and specific obligations on States parties in relation to the rights of persons with disabilities. In terms of general obligations, States have to:

• adopt legislation and administrative measures to promote the human rights of persons with disabilities;

• adopt legislative and other measures to abolish discrimination;

• protect and promote the rights of persons with disabilities in all policies and programmes;

• stop any practice that breaches the rights of persons with disabilities;

• ensure that the public sector respects the rights of persons with disabilities;

• ensure that the private sector and individuals respect the rights of persons with disabilities;

• undertake research and development of accessible goods, services and technology for persons with disabilities and encourage others to undertake such research;

• provide accessible information about assistive technology to persons with disabilities;

• promote training on the rights of the Convention to professionals and staff who work with persons with disabilities

• consult with and involve persons with disabilities in developing and implementing legislation and policies and in decision-making processes that concern them.

The Gambia: Integrated National Disability Policy 2009-2018– draft

Since 2009, the National Disability Policy has been awaiting adoption. It identifies and defines key areas for policy intervention in the Gambia for Persons with Disabilities. The main objective of the disability policy is to enhance care for and help individuals with disability to cope with situations and be fully functional in their communities. Despite trainings and services interventions Persons with Disabilities are facing a lot of challenges preventing them from fully participating in daily life activities.

The development of any country is determined by the quality of life of its inhabitants. This population obviously includes Persons with Disabilities. The Gambia will therefore be committed to invest and cater for the diverse needs of this group to make them independent and productive members of the society. Investing in disability means having a society fit for all ‘’as the saying goes nothing about us without us’’. The following will be the justifications for investing in disability:

1. Reduce the incidence of street begging

2. Reduce dependency

3. Reduce delinquency

4. Reduce the issue of child labor among children with disabilities

5. People with Disabilities will develop to their fullest potential

6. Increase life expectancy for People with Disabilities

7. Increase economic independence

8. Promote mainstreaming and social inclusion

9. Enhances individual responsibility

10. Promote Human Rights of People with Disabilities

The Disability Policy is broken into chapters, giving policy guidelines, discussing monitoring and evaluation, legislation, the institutional framework for policy implementation and the proposed structures for the coordination of disability issues.

The draft Disability Bill is to support the implementation of this Policy.

African Decade – Award of Ambassadorial Status

The Ambassadorial Status is a Secretariat civil society award to the Government for progress already made and to be made in the field of disability mainstreaming and integration. The award is effected through a Memorandum of Agreement (MOA) linked to specific programmes. The MOA is not a political agreement.

The objective of this status is to:

a. Provide opportunities for mainstreaming or integrating disability in key spheres of government programmes.

b. Showcase the disability model and achievements as examples of good practice worth of replication in other parts of Africa and beyond.

c. Facilitate the mobilisation of funding and other resources that will make it possible to implement the programmes in section 2.2 of the MOA.

d. Demonstrate the usefulness of leadership by government in the field of disability mainstreaming and human rights.

e. To publicly affirm and reward the Government for achievements in disability and human rights while at the same time promoting international and development cooperation in the field of disability.

The objective of the award is to promote sharing of best practice in disability mainstreaming. The award

was decided upon after implementing activities and collection of evidence and data that support and validate the progress that has been made in the country.

The Gambia accepted the Ambassadorial Award in 2011. This is a big opportunity for the Gambia to receive recognition on the international stage for its work in disability.

For further information:

Contact info

The Gambia Federation of the Disabled – GFD

Tel: Secretariat 8905368

"Simple is good" & I strongly dislike politics. You cannot defend the indefensible.

Edited by - toubab1020 on 11 Feb 2021 16:40:41
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