Under any circumstances, people normally don’t feel good when classified lower than others around them. This is a common behavior anyone perceives. In some cases, however, people sell their identity to benefit from something they assume more valuable than themselves. The different characters people exhibit in the streets makes one believe that is the real image of those people acting in accordance to situations and circumstances. However, that is not always true. People choose to react in any way as long as situations affect them in their life. The choices made sometimes seem worth taking, yet, they become a reason for one to live in misery and hardship. The difference lies in not knowing what genuinely the needs are and what the wants. The controversy of thoughts immerge when the confusion in peoples’ minds are created among those needs and wants, then any habit feels right and what feels right turns into regularity slowly.
The act of beseeching or begging is considered as taboo in Eritrea, not for the needy but for the ones with capability yet who pretend to be needy. This has a solid adage correlated to it: Habeni Hbey Yigebreka, approximately interpreted as throwing a hand resembles a Monkey. It is a strongly connoted statement that holds a deep meaning behind it. Resembling a Monkey when I am still a Human Being, I can afford to lose my Humanity! That entails it is not welcomed locally as a whole, since the society is naturally a workaholic society.
There are many untold and unbelievable stories within the background of beseeching. We are not going to address them one by one this time but on today’s issue, we focus on why and how these beseeching people are engaged in such activity, and what is so far been done to assist these categories of people out of beseeching. Who handles their case and are they really being helped so far? And, how the trend is determined from past till present days and someway related issues will be raised.
The main causes of this phenomenon (beseeching) in Eritrea can be summarized into few credible reasons we all are convinced in. These are namely the inevitable poverty, economic and social displacement of families, natural and man-made disasters and urbanization due to globalization. Despite these causes cover the main picture, what is termed beseeching or begging at the moment, is taken as main source of financial income, a unique and easily acquired talent and a benchmark of fine employment which needs no employer or a qualification. When I tell this however, it does not have to be negatively implied that the society is not preserving its values and traditions, all it explains is that it is steadily growing, it was not there for centuries or long time because it is not at all an appreciated act, even by the active members of it. According to the proposal presented by the Ministry of Labor and Human Welfare (MLHW), several governmental and non-governmental stakeholders are focusing to resolve the issue and sustain the people underneath it financially and morally, so the families are reorganized and live a comparatively better life than they did before.
The mission and goal of the MLHW in Eritrea is to result into social justice and equality. The social safety as one of the branches in MLHW and, based on the aforementioned goals, processes related activities in a responsible and strategic way through various initiatives. It is mainly stressing on prevention and rehabilitation making its base on community, focusing on rights of children and disabilities, helping displaced citizens and disadvantaged people or beseeching people and gradually enable them to improve their living conditions.
The basic idea does not solely confined into assisting or providing financial or material support; it is the notion that the family develops a mindset of sustaining on its own feet and leading its life all by itself. In doing so, a Community Based Rehabilitation (CBR) program is currently instigated by the MLHW with an emphasis on working at community level and solve its own social problems to the possible limit it can. Without a doubt, a solution can only be solved when family members are collectively held responsible and, accordingly, would integrate their common problems and issues. It is, henceforth, the main task assigned to the committees within each administrative zone.
Based on researches conducted periodically by the concerned Ministry, a great deal of information has been gathered, acknowledged and alerted parties that immediate actions should be taken. Instigating begging as a habit is drastically altering the potential of those people who are capable of contributing vastly to themselves and their society. A shortcut way is persistently seen to be taken. As a result of gradual physical fatigue or illness, people take beseeching as a replacement or back up activity. Some consider themselves to be only taken care off to their last breath and if by any chance they miss that, this kind of activity is well taken as a means for their economic sustainability. Others are incredible; beseeching is a full-time job for their lifetime. For others it is a part time job, additional to ordinary jobs. While others start such kind of activity comparing their incomes, the lower the formal job’s salary the better the beseeching activity, because their mind conceives income from it, is limitless and the effort is worth taking if so.
Additionally, some people’s mindset is programmed that beseeching on the way is tasty and not tedious, which automatically leads to crossing the boundaries of values in a less disciplinary attitude that washes away the habit of working.
In relation to all these reasons mentioned above, it is foreseeable to notice some consequences to the active participants and, hence, affects the majority crowd existing in an indirect way. The habit of such act develops passiveness by destroying the spirit of toil and efforts, it boosts spoon feeding, it overtakes the goals of individuals and makes them hopeless, it creates a negative impact on law and justice of a nation, notorious subjects grow, most of all, values of the society get spoiled. In order to combat this issue, it is not the obligation and priority of one side only but a case everyone ought to hold cautiously and mitigates thoroughly. Then, remaining proactive, is first hand exercise of duty of the concerned parties’ inline. It is not something that can easily get ridden off, as long as it is a permanent incident that can flow in consistently, strong measures and organized way of rehabilitation programs need to be set if not totally vanished; minimizing the number of casualties within the task pays a lot. But what are the moves on these people?
The MHLW in partnership with its stakeholders made the necessary arrangements in analyzing and solving the various issues rose concerning this category of people. The topics focus on awareness raising on beseeching and improving the communities’ participation in resolving particular problems, being in the lower level of families, conducting seminars, conferences and communal meetings regarding that particular matter. In the year 2005, a wide national conference has been conducted by the MHLW in which religious institutions joined and several proposals of minimizing the beseeching occurrence were considered a research based site in Mai Habar was also discussed as it has the task to assess and investigate the conditions and problems of disadvantaged people.
The overall aim targets the stability, safety and harmony of a nation from ill activities using preventive and a rehabilitation programs with the link of all internal stakeholders such as Administrative zones, the MLHW, the Ministries of Justice, Agriculture, Education, civil society groups, religious institutions, police and others. The critical issues considered as limitations in controlling and handling beseeching, which are highly emphasized and mainly discussed are the issue of getting a shortcut effortlessly, carelessness on family caretaking, religious places, community itself, social problems, as well as economic problems. The earlier mentioned stakeholders are taking their responsibilities in collaboration with local communities. Zonal Administrations bear the duty of creating job opportunities, organizing vocational trainings, placing displaced people and inspiring them, placing people in resourceful areas, campaigning and organizing people to preserve values and norms.
Normally, people do forward their blessings to less advantaged people among them, but even this according to the research team, encouraged the bad habit of beseeching to develop and prosper. Commonly, everyone thinks they are doing right, yet handing a penny to beggar without knowing why is he/she is begging is violating the other rules of the tradition simultaneously. Society is expected to act as assistant and team up with the stakeholders or else it is becoming a problem to the controlling mechanisms. Throwing a penny to a beggar is not a central and lasting solution, so it needs an integrated task force which consistently proves to exercise ceasing manners of such particular occurrence for the better of all.
The Ministry of Labor and Human Welfare, on its behalf, takes the responsibility of providing loans to people who have the capacity and need to involve themselves in trade and business. Providing consultation services and day caring to those in need and preparing school materials to students who miss their lessons due to financial reasons is one of the many tasks of the Ministry. Pushing campaigns are executed to churches and mosques for keeping them only as places of worship instead of places of begging or beseeching. Respectively, the Agricultural Ministry obliges itself to engage these disadvantaged people to have the priority in getting opportunities. It will enable them to improve their lives by participating in various agricultural income-generating activities so as they sustain their families and the like activities. Ministry of Education offers a free education schedule to assist these people, as they are part of the society, it ceases to discriminate on financial bases and voices loudly on its agenda “Education for All”.
All of these show the people and Government of Eritrea deep concern and ongoing work to improve the lives of its citizens on a daily basis. The main target groups are categorized under two: the beseeching group with guardians and those without guardians. In other words, the gatherings made in order to organize and investigate what exactly are their problems and address their issues to the guardians and if there are no guardians they will be attributed to any sort of assistances and privileges. The administration of the Central region is on a constant duty of monitoring and evaluating the implementation of programs and its results as well as the situation of rehabilitated individuals.
Nobody chooses to get out and experience the chill outside. The ill mindsets developed over the years are not that simple to vanish altogether instantly. Hand in hand, we can work on something tangible to avoid such society dormancy incidences that can ruin the nation building process. It is neither part of our tradition nor our modernization period as society to actively engage in beseeching, let the hands be stretched for shovels. That is the tradition, where the old and modern Eritrea is favorably directing.