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As blind beggars accuse government of neglect…

Dep. Dir. says beggars exploit children

February 5, 2016 By Joseph S. Margai

The Deputy Director of Children’s Directorate at the Ministry of Social Welfare, Gender and Children’s Affairs has accused blind beggars of exploiting child minders who walk with them along the principal streets in Freetown to beg.

Joyce Kamara was speaking to this reporter while responding to allegations from the blind beggars that the Government of Sierra Leone has not provided them with support to send their children to school.

The Children’s Director countered that the blind beggars are the ones preventing their children from going to school as they have abandoned their homes to live and beg on the streets.

The sight of child minders leading blind beggars is a common one in central Freetown during week days from dawn to dusk. The children, aged between five and ten, miss out on school as they spend the whole day leading blind parents or relatives along major thoroughfares.

Ms. Kamara recalled that her directorate recently got a complaint from one child minder who reported a blind beggar who had hired him of failing to pay him. She said the blind beggars most times target street children.

“This is a worrisome concern for us at the ministry because if these children’s future is to secure at this moment, I’m afraid what will happen to the future of this country,” she said. “We have several strategies that we have been putting in place to address some of these problems of the children, especially those that are roaming around without parental care.”

However, a blind beggar, Sallieu Thoronka, said the blatant refusal of the government to support their children to go to school has urged them to use the latter as minders to beg on the street.

“This is the only way we to get out daily bread; the government has not been supporting us in anyway. As I speak, we are currently sleeping at the Bus Station at Wallace Johnson Street in Freetown, there is no housing facility for us,” he disclosed.

He added that if they do not use their children as minders to beg on the streets no one would help them.

With regards accusation that the blind beggars are exploiting children, Ibrahim Thullah, a blind beggar on Siaka Steven Street, said the accusation was misleading as all the children who help them beg on the streets are theirs.

“The ministry officials should not blame us for failing to do what is expected of them. They should be the ones to make life easier for disabled people in this country, but they have not been doing anything for us and our children,” he said.

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