Anyese Night Madina every day brings a child who is evidently very sick on the streets of Kampala to beg for money. It is true that most people feel sympathetic towards this child. Anyese says her child is HIV positive. Every single day she sits on the street. This money she collects daily amounts to 12,000 Ugandan shillings ($5 US dollars).
I heard a passer-by comment: “She is a heartless woman who is using a suffering child to earn free money yet she can go and work and take good care of the child. She deserves to go to prison and the child should be taken to a childcare centre.”
Anyese says her husband died of AIDS. She sits with her child next to Steers Debonair, opposite Slow Boat on Kampala road, the central business road of Uganda’s capital city, everday. She speaks Swahilli as she instructs Lokwi Michael, her 5-year-old child, to do whatever she tells him to do. Because of the toll the child’s illness has taken he appears much younger than his age.
“I have three children and this one is my third child. I come from Karamoja in Eastern Uganda. My first two children were taken from me by a white man (Mzungu) in Moroto and I cannot support this one because I do not have employment,” says Anyese.
On three different occasions I asked Anyese where she stays, in case I wanted to help the visibly ill child. At first she said she stays in Kisenyi then she told me she stays in Nsambya near the railway crossing. When I asked her the same question for the third time, she said she stays in Katwe, a surban in Kampala. She could perhaps be hiding her residence so that she should not be tracked down.
When you observe Anyese from far, you can see she is always prompting this child to appear distressed, although it is already distressed. She undresses him to expose his emancipated body.
Anyese also says she is HIV positive and on treatment. She says she last got treatment for Kampala City Council. But she was reluctant to respond when I told her that I could take her and her child to Mulago hospital for better treatment.
It is clear that Michael Lokwi is miserably sick, is being used as a bait to attract money and is on the streets. What is not certain is whether he has HIV, AIDS or is just malnourished Either way, these two poor souls do not deserve to sit and beg in such a sorry state. They need help, starting with voluntary counselling and testing to determine their HIV status. If one or both are positive they need to start getting treatment. Who will help them?
- Sick Child
- Sick child 2
- Another child begger on Kampala Road