FEROZKOH CITY (Pajhwok): Beggars in western Ghor province complain of bone-chilling cold and lack of fuel for warming up homes. They want the government and aid agencies for urgent assistance.
Alms-seekers, especially children looking for food, are maintaining the most conspicuous presence in the provincial capital these days.
Gul Afroz, 31 is sitting on the side of the road in Ferozkoh, stretching out her hand to pedestrians and asking for financial help.
“I am not a professional mendicant, but I am forced to do so for the survival because of two minor children. I don’t want them to go hungry or freeze to death.”
Displaced from Allah Yar area to Ferozkoh more than two months ago, she and her relatives are currently living in a rented house at a camp for internally displace People (IDPs).
She said: “My husband is suffering from heart disease and cannot work. We came here in the hope of receiving assistance from the government and aid agencies.
“But we continue to be ignored here. We pay 1,000 afs monthly in house rent, an amount that is very hard to generate through begging. We are forced to beg.”
Gull Afroz makes 150 afs daily, which she spends on buying food. However, she has no resources to warm up her house.
Mir Ahmad, 44, is another panhandler, walking from one shop to another and asking for alms in Ferozkoh to earn bread for his eight-member family.
He blamed his habit of begging on hunger, saying: “I’m responsible for feeding three children and a grandson. The weather is cold and NGOs are doing nothing for us. We have to beg to survive in this freezing cold,”
He recalled they came here two months ago from Dawlana district. They have once received assistance from the Afghan Red Crescent Society (ARCS). The aid included four blankets and a tarpaulin.
Besides elders, many children are busy collecting the trash and begging in the harsh winter.
Fatima is another beggar, who roams around a bakery along with a sister, a brother and a cousin. She says her mother has passed away and her father is a drug addict.
Fatima, who lives along with her sister and brother in her uncle’s house, described their economic situation as unstable. She earns about 60 to 80 afs daily.
The children, who have resorted to begging because of hunger, want the government and aid agencies to assist them. They can go to school instead of begging or collecting scrap, some of the children say.
On the other hand, provincial officials say they are about to begin work on collecting data of beggars, who will be paid attention by the government and NGOs in the future.
Information and Culture Director Maulvi Abdul Hai Zaeem told Pajhwok Afghan News the government order to collect data about beggars had been shared with relevant bodies. After beggars’ identification, the lists will be sent to ARCS.
The number of the beggars has surged at a time when most of welfare organisations have suspended their activities and stopped providing aid packages.