The Disability Forum of Ghana at the weekend asked government to empower Persons with Disability (PWDs) to make them stop begging on the streets as the practice robs them of their dignity.
“Nobody would beg for anything; it’s because life has not been fair to them and so they end up on the streets,” Mr Alex Tetteh, the President of the Disability Forum, said.
Speaking to the Ghana News Agency (GNA) at Tema in an interview, he said it was embarrassing to see PWDs, who should have been assisted by society, left to begin the hot sun when, with little push, they could have lived meaningful lives.
Explaining how bad the situation was, he said: “They are going through a lot of stress, problems and hazards. The interesting part is that some of these people have children and yet sleep on the streets. This exposes them to criminals who take advantage of them.”
He said it was the responsibility of the Disability Forum to educate “our members that it is dignifying to work with our hands; it tarnishes our image and that of our families to be begging on the streets.”
Mr Tetteh, who was the Social Development Officer at the Tema West Municipal Assembly (TWMA), said a feasibility study and needs assessment the Forum conducted showed that most of the beggars would like to be trained in some employable skills.
He said some of them needed capital to start a trade, and some would want to go back to their hometowns and get established there.
Mr Tetteh said it was easier for government to assist them now than before since the beggars were presently organised under the Disabled Beggars Rehabilitation with leadership that could work with government to facilitate their training.
He urged government to prioritise issues concerning PWDs since other vulnerable groups like the ‘kayayei’ were receiving assistance from government.
“We are discriminated against because we feel that PWDs cannot offer anything to the economy, but that’s not true because there are a lot of PWDs who are living and fulfilling their lives and contributing to the development of society,” he said.
Mr Tetteh said those who could not work rather needed help the most and that government must give such persons monthly allowances to help them live meaningful lives and get off the streets.
With the assistance from government in place it could then instruct that nobody should beg on the streets and ensure the directive was enforced.
Mr Tetteh appealed to government not to forget PWDs because Ghana had amended the Disability Act to include critical issues and, therefore, the need to implement those measures.
“The non-implementation of this Act and the UN Conventions has brought us to where we are today, a situation in which PWDs are worse off than before with all the rehabilitation centres suffering and closing down,” he said.