There is nothing that perturbs my mind more than a person coming to beg from me. I used to think that this bad behaviour was for the handicapped. But these days I see many able-bodied young Ugandans getting into the begging habit like dogs. It’s surely shameful. And I have always asked myself why they’re getting into this practice. Is it because they don’t have jobs? What do you think?
On one of the public holidays, and I remember it was Independence Day, I had several customers’ jobs to handle. So I opted to be in the office. Late in the day, a young man entered smiling. He commented sarcastically, “Hey Boss, you don’t rest on public holidays?” “It’s you who give us the work that keeps us here”, I responded thinking that he was a customer.
Contrary to what I thought, he was not giving me a job. He immediately revealed to me that he had a small problem he wanted me to help him sort out. With a good command of English, he explained to me the issue. Finally, he wanted UGX 80,000 (equivalent to 21.33 US dollars).
I looked at him while reflecting for a moment. My conscience told me that he could have been with other intentions. But even if he genuinely had a financial problem, what made him think that he could get that amount of money from me? Why couldn’t he seek help from friends, colleagues or relatives? A young man begging from strangers? Terrible!
Why Is the Begging Habit Growing Among Ugandans?
I don’t think beggars are into that habit because they don’t have jobs. I know many people who cannot miss asking for money from others even when they’re employed. They give all sorts of excuses to convince the ones from whom they beg money. What could have gone wrong with them?
What causes this begging habit in my view are poverty, poor upbringing, laziness and lack of support mechanisms in the country. Let me throw more light on each of them.
Lack of basic needs like food in the home when children are growing up leads to begging. Widespread poverty leaves the children with no other option to ask for assistance in the neighbourhood. Consequently, they become habitual beggars unknowingly.
Children raised in non-caring families easily pick bad habits like begging. Parents’ negligence, alcoholism and single parenthood lead to a lack of proper orientation among children.
Mental and physical laziness is a big problem. Inability to think of doing something meaningful to lead a successful life leads some people to resort to this begging habit. They find themselves living physically but mentally dead.
Lack of support mechanisms in the country
Uganda, to some extent, is deficient in putting in place mechanisms to support the extreme poor leaves them with no other options. For example, natural calamities, debts, lack of education all displace people. Since they are left to fend for themselves without any help, they end up falling prey to the begging habit.
Although it’s healthy to give to people and Jesus supported it when he said, “Give to anyone who asks you” Luke 6:30, I believe it’s not prudent to give cash to people who beg. Our moral authority should be to love our neighbours and be concerned with those in need. But when you give money to someone begging, it neither shows them love nor addresses their needs.
To address the begging habit, we need to tackle its causes and we all have a role to play. It has to start right from our families. Then the government need to put in place a support mechanism.