A begging partnership

Thu, 09 Mar 2017 11:44:21 +0000



TISA Nkhoma, 15, is one of the children living on the streets of Lusaka – who do everything they can to survive – from stealing, carrying loads for a small fee and begging.

They also wipe car windows and make a little more money through the age-old practice of prostitution.

She has been living on the streets for the past two years after she lost her mother, and her father married another woman who allegedly mistreated her.

“I decided to live in the street when my mother died because my father married another woman who used to beat me. One day, she threatened to kill me, so I decided to leave the house,” Tisa said.

She told the Daily Nation that she holds the hand of “Mama Zerosi”, a blind woman in her 50s and begs for money through car windows for survival.

But Tisa is not in any way related to Mama Zerosi, they are just ‘‘business’’ partners.

She poses as the daughter of the blind woman to earn the sympathy of potential donors.

Though Tisa is young, she is an expert at her job as she has been in the begging business for almost a year now.

She said her friend introduced her to Mama Zerosi and they have been in partnership for three months now.

“My friend introduced me to Mama Zerosi and I have been begging with her for the past three months. It is scary moving in traffic but would you rather go hungry? We make more money begging with blind people than we do on our own,” said Tisa.

She said on a good day, they make up to K100 and the money is split between the two, with her getting 40 percent.

“Our agreement is that I get 40 percent of the money made on a particular day. For example, if we make K100, I get K40, while she gets K60,” she said.

And Mama Zerosi said she has had no problems working with Tisa so far and that she trusted her.

She said her family is in Mumbwa and she was motivated to come to Lusaka by her friends, who had good stories to tell about begging in the city.

“Finding a child to beg with me is not difficult, but finding one you can trust because many of them are fond of hiding the money. But so far I have never had any problems working with Tisa,” she said.

The situation of children begging on the streets is much more complicated than most Zambians think.

Though many people are used to seeing them, their situation is a flagrant violation of human rights, as guaranteed under the Children’s Act.

The growing number of children in the streets in Zambia is worrisome and the situation is likely to worsen if no strong measures are taken to address the problem.

Although there is no recent official figure on the number of street children in Zambia, a national survey indicates that the number of street children in Zambia almost doubled in 1991 and 2004.

Some children are pushed onto the streets following the death of their parents while others are running away from violence at home. Others live on the street simply because their families are too poor to look after them.

Others enjoy the freedom of the street where there are no holds barred.

The rains, the cold and the hot sun of the street come and go every year, but the streets remain home to these children and very little has been done to help them improve their quality of life.

This is the harsh reality of Zambia today.


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