It is always common to hear the sound of beggars from the streets of Ethiopia: sounds like “Ferenji birr or Money”, “Emuye dabo gicilegn / Emuye please buy me bread”. We are used to this voices that we don’t even hear them at times.
Connell street in DireDawa, which is located in eastern part of Ethiopia, is no stranger to beggars. DireDawa is a beautiful city where it is always hot and a sunny; as a result people sometimes call her the desert flower. The story i am about to tell you happened to one of my younger sisters (she happened to have a soft heart, am not saying this just because she is my sister) when she was walking in the streets of Connell with her friends.
My little sister has what one would call a light skin and she can easily be recognized as “ferenji” or a foreigner. That day as they were walking, one street child started to call her “ ferenji birr sichegn” (translated give me money) and he kept on nagging. Her friends saw this as an opportunity to even create a scene and told the kid that she is a foreigner who had lots money. They were having fun and meant no harm.
She tried to explain to him in Amharic that she doesn’t have money to give but the kid wouldn’t let go and kept on following her. Eventually it got on her nerves and she hit his hand to leave her alone. That scared the kid and was to run away, but made him stuck in her mind. She connected her situation to her little nephew who was growing up in a high protection and lots of attention and care.
The world is such an imperfect place where one lives in a luxurious life and just a few paces away there is another who cant eat one time a day. One would argue that beggars can work, but have we ever stopped one for a second and asked why he/she chose to beg? To clean our streets and have more productive labor force, we can start by listening to the story of one and go from there.