Some days I’m encountered by something that makes uncertain how to feel. It makes me very uncomfortable, sad, annoyed, and angry. I’m not proud of these feelings but it’s what automatically occurs when I see children begging.
Now these kids are not just any poor Ghanaian children, that would be a different story. Some Ghanaian kids say “Hey Obruni, Give me 1 cedi” or “Buy me *insert item*”, but they’re just being opportunistic because I’m white so I must be rich. These beggar children are different. They are apparently from Northern Africa (I’ve heard Chad), and are sometimes called gypsies (though I’m not sure what the correct term would be.) These children can be found at the mall and large junctions, and this is their full time job. Most of them are about 8-12, but I’ve seen them as young as 2 years of age (not even talking fully yet but just sort of toddling around and grabbing on to strangers)… horrible.
These children are very insistent. They grab on to your arm and follow you down the street without letting go. The stick their hand in car windows. They get what they can and then run back to give it to their parents. They don’t get to go to school or play, they only beg. They don’t look very well taken care of, and for some reason they are always wearing jerseys. They are constantly shaken off, rejected, yelled at, and looked at with anger and disgust. I’m seriously concerned about their mental well-being, and doubt it’ll be easy for them to turn into fully functioning adults with proper relationship strategies.
So what do you do? How do you face this situation?
- If you don’t give them anything you feel bad since they are obviously desperate for food and money (maybe they won’t eat today…)
- If you give them something it just reinforces the system, where their parents know they can easily make money by using their children while they sit around nearby doing nothing. (I’ve seen the children bring the money back to their parents who start smoking weed.)
Personally, I don’t give them anything. I guess I should work to fix this broken system but it seems overwhelming and there are many other problems currently being faced in Ghana that seem equally pressing. So my question is, what would you do?