By Meredith Maulsby, the baines report
Poverty can easily be seen throughout the capital of Ethiopia, but nowhere is it more evident than when you pass a beggar on the street. Beggars are everywhere in Addis Ababa, and they represent a vast range of demographics. There are men, women, children of all ages and conditions– some with their mothers, some without, and the severely disabled.
Older children, rather than begging, try to sell you gum or clean your shoes, while the younger children walk in front of you asking for money or food, not leaving you until they spot another person to ask. The women are often with young children, sometimes babies, and usually with more than one. I was once walking down the street and a young child no older than 2 or 3 who was being held by his mother made the signal they all make to ask for food or money while calling me sister. I thought this child probably learned this signal before he even learned how to speak. Women are often seen grilling corn on the sidewalk on a small grill to sell to people passing by.
I have been told the severely disabled have most likely suffered from stunting, polio or the war. I have seen men with disfigured legs so mangled that they can not walk but instead drag themselves down the sidewalk. Others are in wheelchairs and unable to walk. And this city is not easy for the disabled. The sidewalks, where they exist, are not always flat and not always paved. There are also often giant holes in the middle of the sidewalk or loose concrete slabs covering gutters. On the main roads, near where I’m staying there are tarps and blankets off to the side of the road where where the beggars must sleep or live. Read more