A majority of visually impaired (blind) people in Liberia have become resolute beggars because they are faced with perpetual economic hardships coupled with the inability of the Liberian government to introduce a well-functioning program to support people living with various forms of disabilities.
Most visually impaired people are faced with numerous challenges including the lack of food, clothing, and decent dwelling places. For some who have children, they do not have the money to send them to school.
In a recent interview with the Daily Observer, several blind Liberians said government’s inability to introduce a well-functioning program has caused them to become persistent street beggars in Monrovia and its surroundings.
Roland Bimba, 20, who once lived in Salala, Bong County, and managed to reach Monrovia because of limited opportunities for the blind in that part of the country, is confident that he would have improved his and his family’s lot if the government had offered him and his cohorts opportunities to improve themselves.
Roland’s decision to migrate to the city was mainly due to his desire to get further education.
“I’ve completed the school for the blind and I am now a student of a private school with a yearly tuition of L$14,000. I come to the streets every day to beg people, especially marketers at the Red Light Market to raise money to pay my tuition. It is not really my desire to live as a beggar, but there is no one to help me to achieve my goal. There are lots of people who have promised to assist me with my schooling, but these promises are not fulfilled. I believe that when educated, I can meaningfully contribute to the society and never remain a liability,” Roland said.
As for Samuel Borla, a father of three, he said he became blind as a result of ‘witchcraft.’
He said “a blind person surviving in Monrovia nowadays is in a difficult position since some of the people we beg for money often throw insults at us. We’re tired begging on the streets, and therefore we are asking the government to find ways to help us get money to support our families like it is reportedly being done for blind people in other countries where the government gives blind people money from banking institutions to help them take care of their families.”
Samuel said he spends the whole day on the streets and sometimes earns less than L$400 from begging to support his family.
Another blind person, Joseph Ballah, added that blind people are tired of being on the streets begging. “I feel very bad every day on the streets begging. We are appealing to our lawmakers to pass a bill that will ensure that every blind person in the country is registered and provided some compensation.
When the blind are compensated that will put a stop to many of us being on the streets begging for money.”