Beggars everywhere

07-07-2010

There are two words in Rwanda which the locals always recognise: amafaranga pfite. It means, loosely, there is no money. This is a sentiment that many Rwandan's associate with and one of the saddest challenges we have faced out there is dealing with the begging that comes from almost every direction.

Which makes for something of a puzzle now that we are home to be reminded that our own streets are not short of their own beggars. These aren't the buskers that serenade us along Rose Street till all hours at night, or even the Big Issue sellers. I am talking about the ones that just sit on a blanket with a cap in front of them and a few coins with the hope of sympathy from passers-by.

It was Jesus that said "The poor will always be with you." Perhaps no matter how wealthy the passers-by become, there will always be those that are too poor even to busk. Somehow I don't think Rwanda has reached even that point. The people there beg because there are so few opportunities even to earn an honest living.