Christmastime and Begging, by Alexis Kaykay Bujawe
Begging can’t be easy. It takes will-power and a resilience no rejection can break. Patience. A certain amount of acting. And in Cubao, the Philippines, the physical strength to jump on and off jeepneys (open buses), to push through crowds, to run from trouble. The rewards are high: money and survival, so you can see why children, especially, might feel proud to beg.
Lift the Lid received an anonymous donation to The School in a Cart in Cubao, the Philippines, and as always we show our appreciation with a student’s letter, personal essay or poem. Today we have a personal essay from Alexis, or as her friends call her, Kaykay. She describes how she spent Christmas, giving gifts, eating a special meal, and begging. Kaykay does not complain or talk about her shame, rather we see how begging has become a past-time, a means to an income for herself and her family, and perhaps even something she can feel proud of.
Our partners at The School in a Cart, the teachers and caregivers, discourage begging. They reward the children who resist the practice for going to school and doing their homework by taking them on field trips or out for special dinners. They warn of the dangers interacting with strangers, jumping the jeepneys, and traveling out of their neighborhood. But, still, it’s clear that Kaykay does not feel remorse for her actions. It’s an understandable, yet sad, truth.
We will continue to discourage begging, to encourage school, books, play time, music and prayer. We will continue to love and protect these beautiful children, who have an abundance of will-power, resilience, patience, and hope for life.
Kaykay is ten years old and in the 3rd grade. She is the 5th of seven siblings. Here is a translation of her essay from Tagalog, as well as her original work:
“Thank you very much Ate (big sister) Sara for everything you have given to us!
This is what we did this Christmas. We went to the Riverbank to eat. I also bought a pair of slippers from what I got from begging.
Also at Christmas, we were at the sidewalk waiting for gifts from people. There were a few who gave us food and toys.
I also gave part of what I got from begging to my mother and she bought me a few pieces of clothing.
I Love you Ate Sara. Please do not get tired of helping me. I will study harder.”