The scene at some intersections and traffic lights in Accra show self-styled philanthropists who have adopted new strategies to beg for alms.
These beggars solicit funds from pedestrians and motorists by showing half naked children in public, with tubes inserted in parts of their bodies.
They use the strategy to attract the attention of pedestrians and other road users by mounting speakers with microphones to announce the plight of a child who is shown on a pull up banner with his or her picture.
The so-called ‘philanthropists’ mostly work in teams of three, with one person ‘advertising’ the medical condition of the child and the other two acting as money collectors.
When traffic holds up at an intersection, the ‘announcer’ narrates the plight of the child, stating categorically the causes and symptoms of the child’s condition.
This reporter visited the Nyamekye traffic light in Accra and saw a small boy of about three years with a tube inserted in a part of the body and standing half naked at a spot where the begging for alms was going on.
The ‘philanthropists’ used the microphone to announce that the child consumed a substance suspected to be caustic soda and that had made it difficult for him to swallow.
According to the ‘announcer,’ the child was diagnosed with a medical condition known as Corrosive Esophageal Stricture.
In an interview with the ‘philanthropists’, this reporter gathered that he and his team had been able to raise GH¢3,000 out of the GH¢15,000 needed for the boy to undergo surgery.
Additional information gathered from a woman who sells tissue paper in the area indicated that it was not just the little boy who needed help for surgery, but others as well.
The ‘philanthropists’ claimed to be working with a man who is in charge of children who are in need of surgery.
The Daily Graphic then contacted the man ‘in charge’, Mr Andrew Osei, also said to be known as Bossman, who revealed that his team had so far mobilised funds for 37 children.
According to him, parents of the sick children brought the children to them for their organisation to help them raise funds to support their surgeries.
Mr Osei revealed that the organisation in charge of the children was known as Elica Elica of Christ Foundation, with their office located at Doctor Mensah, a suburb of Kumasi, in the Ashanti Region.
When the reporter told him of her intention to visit their office to discuss future plans of partnering the organisation to solicit funds in support of the children, Bossman said the Kumasi office had been closed down for sometime now.
He added that the office had been moved to Lapaz, a suburb of Accra, but with no office space
When this reporter asked how accounts were rendered for the money collected since the organisation had neither office nor a proper managerial structure, he said: “Oh, we communicate through phone to know whatever goes on at each collection point.”
Bossman, who sounded a bit uncomfortable with the idea of a visit to their office, changed his earlier statement and said he was not the one in charge of the organisation but was a mere worker.
He, therefore, proposed that whatever money the news team had to support the victims should be sent to his MTN Mobile Money Number.
The Daily Graphic then got in touch with another man involved in the same activity, who only gave his name as Osofo Nico.
Osofo Nico extensively talked about himself and revealed that the organisation was a registered one but they were yet to receive certification.
He added that the organisation had their banners at Block D3, located at the Komfo Anokye Teaching Hospital (KATH)
According to him, sometimes the doctors at KATH recommended some of these children to him to help them solicit funds for them to undergo surgery.
At the Awoshie–Baahyard traffic light, the news team spotted yet another team of ‘solicitors’ doing business as usual.
This ‘announcer’ narrated the plight of a little boy called Kelvin and asked him to come and stand next to him for individuals to see that he was actually suffering from the ailment he had earlier described.
Kelvin has three of the little fingers of his left hand badly swollen.
He explained that though the hand looked painless, occasionally the pain caused by the swelling became unbearable, causing a lot of discomfort to little Kelvin.
According to the man, Kelvin had already undergone surgery but needed GH¢₵2,000.00 to enable him to undergo his final surgery.
He also made known the fact that parents of little Kelvin had brought him to them (his organisation) to help him solicit funds to help with his surgery.
Report from Kumasi
The Head of Paediatric Surgery of KATH, Dr Michael Amoah, confirmed to the Daily Graphic that he knew about Pastor Nicho and his NGO as he had helped raised funds to pay for the surgeries of some children on admission, writes Kwadwo Baffoe Donkor, Kumasi.
He said the hospital usually “gives letters to parents who are unable to pay for the cost of the surgery for their children. The medical conditions and the cost involved are stated in the letter.”
According to him, the hospital did not encourage the children to be showcased in public “but we really don’t tell them how to raise the funds”.