By Karima Rhanem
By Karima Rhanem
Morocco World News
Casablanca, August 17, 2012
It was 10.00 am when a young girl in her twenties got on one of Casablanca buses linking the main Mohammed V Boulevard to different other areas of this cosmopolitan city. The girl, who was wearing poor clothes, was accompanied by two small kids, presumably her brothers. I thought at first that she was a passenger until she staged a performance of a different kind, a show she was used to in every single bus.
“I come from Tangiers to see my paralyzed father who is hospitalized in Rabat. I need money for his medical treatment,” said the young girl who staged well a crying scene until she collected about MAD 30 (about 4 dollars) from the bus passengers.
As soon as she got off the bus in the next stop, a passenger at the back said “if this girl gets on 10 buses every day, she is going to make MAD 300 a day, which means MAD 9,000 a month ($1100). It’s a good salary, I don’t even reach half of it.”
Another person said angrily: “each time a different person, a different story, a different talent, but all with a common goal: getting easy money by fooling people.”
Before the angry man finished his sentence, another beggar got on the bus pretending “he has just got out of prison and he needs money to go back to his small village west Morocco.” Unfortunately the man who was complaining about the young girl couldn’t say a word in front of the beggar who used fear factor to get money out of the passengers.
As it would take me about an hour by bus to reach my destination, I felt that I will have a nice show on the way. Another beggar came in. She was a real comedian, made the whole bus laugh and collected about MAD 300 (about 40 USD) in 5 minutes.
After the comedy show, it was religion time! A beggar was selling small books with some Qur’an verses and asking for whatever you can give him for something that should not normally be for sale. The guy was not that attractive as the comedian woman and was able to collect only MAD 4 (about 50 cents).
Another guy got on in my 7th stop. He was a “handicapped” or he made us believed so. He tried to make the case about his situation affecting people’s emotions. As soon as he collected money, he got off the bus. You could see him from the window running without any problem. I couldn’t figure out how he managed to deceive us about him being handicapped.
The show goes on. Before my last stop, a small girl and two kids got on; it seemed that the girl was not that talented in begging. She distributed a piece of paper to all passengers. It read as follows: I have a family composed of 6 people. I am handicapped, poor and jobless; please help me support my family.”
One passenger behind me whispered: “she said she is poor and she has money to type and print her message in a nice paper?” The poor girl came after several performers and couldn’t collect a single dirham.
I saw different types of beggars in one single trip and nobody could stop them from begging and disturbing people. The last one I saw when I was getting off the bus is a middle aged man showing dozens of medical certificates pretending he is sick and needing help.
At a certain time, I felt it’s a beggar’s day. On my way to the office in which I had a meeting, I came across someone who was speaking fluent French to me. “I am a university student, I have to print my university research for the professor and I forgot my wallet. Can you please help me,” the guy said confidently.
At first, I wanted to help him, but I don’t know why I told him “I am sorry, I have no money with me”. And I was right because 2 hours later, he came across me and asked me the same thing. When I took off my glasses, he recognized me and said coldly “oh sorry already done”.
I got so sick with so many fake stories I heard that morning. The best thing that happened to me is the beggar who pretended he was blind. We had little unexpected accident of hands while walking close to a shop. I didn’t speak a word, I wasn’t wearing high heels and I couldn’t figured out how he knew I was a woman “Malki makatchoufich (what’s wrong, can’t you see). The salesperson in the shop told me that he is not blind and that “he is pretending so to get money from the people.”
I started having a headache as another old man approached me telling me “Gnaza Gnaza”. I didn’t understand him at the beginning, and then I realized he was collecting money for a funeral and of course it was a lie.
I called the company to postpone my meeting till the afternoon, bought an aspirin from the pharmacy and went to a coffee shop.
From the terrace of the coffee shop, I saw different other stories. The most dangerous were those who steal or rent kids and use them in begging. As I was drinking my coffee and reading the newspaper, I saw a small article talking about a person who lived as a beggar and died as a Billionaire, leaving behind billions of dirhams stored in one of his house walls.
The phenomenon is increasing in Morocco and becoming serious. Yet there is no effective measures made to crack down on beggars who accounts according to the ministry of Social Development, Family and Solidarity, more than 500,000, of which more than 15% are under the age of 7, hired to work on the streets.
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