The Arts of Begging in Jordan
“Allah Yekhaleeki”… “Allah Ye7fazek.. “Allah Ywafgek”… “Min Shan allah warai 3or wlad Ata3meehoum” have become some of the most common sentences exchanged between beggers at traffic lights and streets crowded with markets during the Holy Month of Ramadan.
It seems you can’t walk two blocks without being hassled by a handful of beggars at a time this Ramadan, children are hovering over cars at the traffic light begging for a handful of coins, where as older women are on the sides of the pavements in a more shaded area, covered, brooding, and begging for money from their shady corners. This has become the Ramadan of West Amman before Iftar.
Is it possible that those so-called beggars have increased and multiplied in size and population this Ramadan to take advantage of the generosity of people during this month of spirituality?
The Ministry of Social Development on Monday warned the public against encouraging street peddlers and beggars as the majority of them are not in need. In Jordan, begging is considered a crime and those arrested for the first time would be given a second chance, and those arrested multiple times for vagrancy, however, are subject to penalties ranging from one month to three years in prison, in addition to fines. But that doesn’t seem to make a difference, I believe I read in the Jordan Times a few days ago that Bail is set a JOD 50 and can reach a fine of 10,000 dinars.
But the question is does begging only count if your not a street vendor attempting to sell fruits, vegetables and you’re only asking for some coins or a batch of change. How many people nowadays are hassled with men at the traffic light selling the newspaper?
On some days, I used to buy the Jordan Times before heading to work, now I think twice before stopping at a traffic light to buy one, as my attempt to pay for a 25 fils daily paper turns into a hassle of “allah ykhaleelek hal khetyrar (referring to my father who drives me to work every day) sam7eeni bil ba2i”.
Translation: May God Protect the Oldman ditting next to you… let me have the change. The only thought on my mind is, you work for a living, you sell the paper and get paid for doing so, do you really have to beg for more money?
I know Jordan is going through a huge economic/financial crisis and I know people would do anything for cash, steal, beg, scam, whatever it takes to keep food at the table, but before anyone judges me as a heartless writer who’s criticizing the newspaper man for mooching extra money off me in the morning, I think we’re all citizens struggling with underpaid paychecks, and when your stopped 10-12 times on average by another beggar of moocher asking for money it gets rather frustrating as most of us out there are trying to save up a bit at the end of each month.
For some reason, at some point in my life, I saw this boy who broke my heart, every time I’d pass by someone has knocked over his little box of Sharawi Gum all over the street and he’s just crying miserable collecting whatever remains he can get away with in order to sell it for cash. There are so many occasions where I have reached into my purse and handed over more than the coins stuck around the corner because I felt really bad, what will happen to that boy if he goes back home to his parents with no money or merchandise? Will his father or mother or whoever is sending him on to the street beat him up for not bringing in enough money? But my thoughts where over-washed with anger when I realized this is nothing but an extraordinary performance, I think we need to fly in some film producers from Hollywood to hire those kids, they play it so well, that I have fallen for this charade a few times, before realizing its nothing but a scam aimed to make people feel pity and attempt to give in more money to compensate whatever was lost.
When did begging become an art in Jordan? Or a performing arts skit appropriate for Broadway? The sad part is, those people have enough time to come up with skits and creative lines and beg for money for non-stop hours instead of hunting for a job and working for a living like everyone else. I know they wont make enough money working, because begging generate more money than a monthly paycheck, but I assure you they will at least have some pride.
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