The Gambia Association for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing (GADHOH) has called on The Gambia Police Force to help them tackle the issue of foreign deaf beggars begging in public places under false pretence.
According to Lamin Ceesay, development officer for GADHOH, these foreign beggars have been going into banks, hospitals, churches, mosques, workplaces, ferry terminals, supermarkets and other public places with envelopes and other cards bearing wrong messages that they are begging on behalf of associations/institutions.
He therefore appealed to the public not to give money to such beggars on Gambian streets.
“These foreign deaf beggars are neither Muslims nor Christians, but act as Muslims or Christians whenever they go about their daily business with these fake papers in the names of the organisations, clubs, shops and others,” he stated.
According to him, most of them use the monies given to them to buy and consume alcohol, abuse our married Gambian deaf women, and other immoral behaviours.
“GADHOH has expressed concern and dissatisfaction over the way and manner many foreigner deaf people use the name of our association to beg for money and warned that such action is totally unacceptable in our deaf society. We do not want this kind of bad practice to spread within the Gambian deaf community, who are well known for their hard work in gaining self-employment like carpentry, catering, hairdressing, welding, building, and business.”
“Some are even working with private sectors like painting firm agencies, school as a teacher, hotels, others in government institutions like GPA, GPPC, The Gambia Police Force and so on,” he pointed out.
He further said that these foreign deaf beggars tarnish the good image of their countries and want to do the same in The Gambia.
Adama Jammeh, chairperson for GADHOH Banjul branch who doubles as assistant treasurer for GADHOH female wing, said the Gambian hearing community have been misidentifying foreign deaf beggars with Gambian deaf people.
She highlighted that Gambian deaf people are not beggars but workers. She called on the government, especially the police, to support them in ending the scam because their image is being tarnished.
She said they are not against foreign deaf beggars working and earning money legally in the country but will not allow them to tarnish the image of Gambian deaf people under false pretense.
According to her, foreign deaf beggars do not pay tax or aliens’ tax and therefore called on The Gambia Immigration Department to ensure they do.
“We wrote to the Police in 2010 and recently but no action is taken yet,” she also said, noting that The Gambia Deaf Association is here to support hard of hearing people, promote the use of sign language as well as the education and employment of hard of hearing people and make them inclusive in society but not involved in dubious activities.
Momodou Jah, board member for GADHOH, said Gambian hearing people cannot differentiate between foreign and Gambian deaf people and sometimes they are ashamed of themselves when they are discriminated against and misunderstood by hearing people as beggars.
He added that the actions of the foreign beggars are making Gambia deaf people lose opportunities because when they write letters to institutions, their requests are turned down because they are misunderstood for the foreign beggars.