Next, is the story of Yewande, a tough one, and I am doing the follow up on the story........but with a little digression. Please read this story as it might open you up to some of the few answers to the questions of single mothers and some of their challenges. Happy reading.
Faced with the challenge of eking out a living after being abandoned by their husbands and fathers of their children, many single mothers in Lagos are fast taking to street begging for survival. Checks showed that in spite of the ban recently placed on street begging in the state, some female beggars, especially the single mothers are still sneaking into the streets where they employ all sorts of tricks to woo passers-by.
Although some of the female beggars who spoke to our reporters in recent en-counter expressed willingness to quit beg-ging as soon as they found a better alterna-tive, findings revealed that many of them have fallen in love with begging, which they started long ago, as they see it as an easy and profitable business venture.
In order to draw sympathy from their prospective givers, findings showed that a number of them devise several deceptive gimmicks, including feigning blindness and other forms of disability. While many of them make use of their own biological children in carrying out their ignoble means of livelihood, a few go out of their way to hire babies, especially sets of twins, triplets to boost their chances of winning the hearts of generous givers.
Interestingly, findings further showed that not many of the kids some of them parade as twins or triplets are genuine as they, on many instances, pair hired children from different mothers, whom they dress up in the same cloths to deceive un-suspecting alms givers.
Apart from the criminal gimmick of us-ing hired infants, investigations revealed that some women even present their own children as fire accident victims. To make people believe their claims, they are of the habit of dressing the body parts of such innocent kids with cotton wool dappled in palm oil or iodine and gentian violet.
In some instances, you are even present-ed with more scary pictures of purported victims of an inferno, by decorating their childrens naked bodies with saw dust mixed with some ointment to give it a dis-gusting look.
Although none of those who spoke to our reporter admitted to have ever employed any of the tricks since they started begging, almost all of them agreed that such deceptive people abound among them. In trying to justify their chosen means of livelihood, some of the women beggars told our reporter that they had resorted to begging to avoid the temptation of going into crime and prostitution after their husbands dumped them and left them in the lurch.
For instance, Memunat, who oftentimes plies her trade on the Ikeja pedestrian bridge along Lagos-Abeokuta Expressway, said hers was not a divination by any oracle but that she took to the act when the man that put her in the family way took to his heels. “I am a single mother of three. I have a daughter and this set of twins.
One is a boy and the other one is a girl. They were initially a set of triplets but one of them did not survive. My husband ran away and abandoned me in the hospital after he found out that they were triplets. Even before I had the triplets, he had never been a responsible husband. He was a bus-conductor and spent the little money he made every day on alcohol and prostitutes. I did not want my children to suffer and that was why I decided to beg on the street as I believe that the good luck that always comes with their birth would bring favour to my side one day.
“This is not to say that I am not willing to quit the job. I am ready to do any better business so far as it is going to put food on my table and leave me with enough money to raise my children. My first daughter is in primary school here in Lagos and it is the money that I get from here that I use in sponsoring her. Whatever we have left is what we spend on feeding and to pay my house rents,” Memunat said.
It was the same tale of abandonment for Florence, another self-acclaimed single mother who also begs with a set of triplets. Although she showed unwillingness to respond to most of the questions she was asked, Florence appeared unequivocal in her claim that her husband abandoned her after she gave birth to her triplets. “My husband is a bus conductor and we had two kids together before we had this set of triplets.
We were living in Ibadan before. But shortly after I had these babies, he abandoned me and came to Lagos. I have been searching for him since I came to La-gos but I am yet to see him. I have to resort to begging to survive and also feed these innocent babies. I don’t have any particular place where I sleep. I sleep outside, any-where that is secure for me.”
Mama Obinna, who was seen begging for alms to take care of her fire victim son, at Mile 2 recently, told Saturday Mirror that begging was never an alternative she ever desired to explore in her life. She said that she was forced to beg for alms because there was nobody to assist her when her son was involved in fire accident. “I never thought I would beg for alms in my life.
It is not an honourable job for anybody but now that I am faced with a challenge that is beyond my power, I had no alternative than to beg for alms since in my judgment it is better than prostitution and stealing. “I was married but my husband for no good reasons left me and the children for another woman. We have been engaging in food vending to survive since he left us.
I took to alms begging when my son that is lying here was burnt by the fire of the food we were cooking. I have spent all the mon-ey I had yet the wound has not healed. It is what I get from begging that I have been us-ing to take care of him and to also put food on the table for my other children. I would stop as soon as the wound heals as I want to go back to my business,” she said.
Commenting on the trend, Mr. Ajala Muniru, a Psychologist at the Lagos State Uni-versity (LASU), expressed concern over the likely negative psychological impact it could have on the affected children, say-ing the future of such children is shrouded in uncertainties. Muniru said: “When you look at the circumstance of those people involved in this, they seem to have low self concept.
The children that are brought up under such condition tend to have a very low self concept. People tend to look down on them as children of paupers. These children will grow up and learn all this from their peers. When this is internalized, it becomes a big problem in terms of relating with others in the environment and even their friends. Isolation then set in. “The stigma attached to that will not make such children to grow properly and behave the way their contemporaries or mates will behave. Their developmental process is already battered as memories of what happened in the past would continue to haunt them and in distant future they will start to regret. Regression will set in.
They will start seeing themselves as not being fortunate like their peers. The world today is more competitive. So, you would suffer when you are the type that is not equipped with social skill to be able to match up with your colleagues when it comes to scouting for jobs. “All these when taken in would make development process of those children not to be well tutored in the right way.On the part of the mother, the idea that others would know and see her as a beggar would make her not to live up to expectation.
As a woman and wife in the home, when she goes out there and starts begging with her children, the environment in which she lives will become hostile. She won’t even be able to keep friends. She would even decide to go outside her home to make friends. “It will just be a matter of time when people get to know that is what she does. Then they forsake her. I am talking about loneliness and isolation setting in and these are psychological. It would affect her mental functioning and then anxiety would set in.
Here you talk about neuro-sis, when you go to medical hospital these days; you tend to see people with social problems that have graduated to psychotic level.