Street mothers, who spares a thought for them?
Stabroek News
May 12, 2002

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It was a hustle and bustle yesterday as fathers, sons and daughters ran around the city trying to put last-minute arrangements in place to make that mother-figure in their lives feel special.

And all that excitement culminates today on Mother's Day. But even as they fussed over whether to buy mother that oriental lamp she always wanted, or the intricate gold necklace, not many of them noticed the other mothers. The women who, whether it rains, or the sun shines, take to the city pavements to eke out a daily bread.

With a multitude of dirty, malnourished looking children around them, their pleas are generally the same, "Please fa a li'l help." Sometimes they get $20, or more, from a sympathetic passerby. Other times, they are ignored completely. Their children - some babies, many school-aged, "work" the same pavements.

Many people wonder why a number of seemingly strong women choose to beg on the streets (and subject their children to the same fate) instead of finding a job.

One of these street mothers, who gave her name only as Renee, acknowledged that begging was degrading, but, she said, being a mother of five, and without a job, it was a necessity.

"Right now, tomorrow for Mother's Day, we will spend it real rough... real rough," the mother of five stressed as she clutched a sickly-looking two-year-old boy on her hips. She chatted with Stabroek News, but her roving eyes checked out the passersby.

Beside her, sitting on an old piece of cardboard, was another woman, who spent the time castigating society for her plight. The photographer tries to take her picture with her many children gathered around, but, letting out a stream of obscenities, she pushes them roughly from her, threatening to do them harm if they allowed their picture to be taken.

"You all tekking out picture and we ain't even getting one help," the woman states sourly, not easing up one bit on her colourful language.

All this time, Renee continues her lamentation. "Is a shame and disgrace... This country ain't even got wuk... I have five fatherless children and I can't even afford to help myself. If they want to take the beggars off the road, they have to push their hand in they pocket and give we a frek and we gon go home," she says.

As to how she is spending today, Renee tells this newspaper, "It gon plan by de grace of God... If I get li'l plain rice with salt and some pepper with it, I gon seh `Thank God!'."