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CHILDREN WITH LICENCES TO BEG IN KENYA

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Denzel Musumba

Denzel Musumba

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Their stories are moving and will loosen even the wallets or purses of the meanest. These are the children beggars of Nakuru town. They approach you meekly with a face you cannot turn them away. Their stories are heart-rending even if you do not have anything in your pocket you will be forced to call a friend for an instant loan to give out to the lads. Their selling line rotates around post-election violence, orphaned, or sick parents. And the message is tailored to move you. They will tell you how they escaped death by a whisker during the 2008 post-election violence in which both parents were killed. And they even have documents to back the claims: Letters written by the provincial administrators authorising them to collect funds from well wishers. Kariuki Kinyugo traverses Nakuru town from dawn to dusk begging for money he claims he needs to be operated on his dislocated elbow joint. When he approached me, I noticed he is shy and takes my prodding to know exactly what he wanted. “I am begging for money so that I can get medical fees for the operation,” he says in staccato. When I ask him where his parents are, the 13-year-old says his parents were killed during post-election violence in Molo. “I am staying with my sister and brother at Bahati,” he says. The boy, who has with him a letter from Nyahururu DO dated April 14, says his sister and brother do not have mobile phones so it is difficult to confirm what happened to his parents. “They do not have phone numbers and I cannot get them now,” he says. As proof that he is indeed in need, he removes the letter allegedly written by Nyahururu DO Lucia Mwamba asking the public to assist the child. Issued with permits “The above named has been authorised by this office to collect funds from well-wishers and the public within Nyahururu District,” reads part of the letter printed with letterhead of the Office of the President Provincial Administration and Internal Security.

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