The Value Of A Dinar In Winter

الخميس 24 كانون الثاني 2008

Written By: Ola Eliwat

“This weather loves hot chocolate with marshmallows!” That was the message I sent my friend as I sat in the car waiting for my father, cuddled up in the warmest clothes I have and yet feeling my feet freezing.

Drifted away in thoughts, I was brought back to reality by the sight of a little boy, around 9 or 10, approaching a woman who was getting in to her car. The woman reached out to her purse and gave him some coins, although I didn’t see him begging. Obviously, he didn’t need to. He was wearing a jersey with no jacket on, the kind of attire that won’t make you warm enough for an average winter day. The jersey was soaked in the chilly melting ice, the sleeves pulled over his hands, his lips quivering and his eyes drooping in the cold.

I thought after the woman gave him the money he would come and tap on my window, and how much I hated that thought! But to my surprise, he just crossed the street and stood with his back to some car. I don’t know what he could’ve been waiting for. After a moment’s hesitation, I opened the car’s door and waved him over. He scurried to the car and came to a stop within a few feet from me.

I asked him what he was doing out there in this cold weather, but he didn’t answer me, or maybe he did but I was too appalled by his cold-stricken appearance to hear it. Then, I asked him how much he has to earn to be able to go home. He said, and these are his exact words: “They take 1JD”. I offered him a deal, that if I gave him the money he would go home, to which he gave a nod of consent, his lips still quivering and his eyes having a certain look of desperation, the only thing I could read in his frozen features. Before he stormed off, I asked him if I could take a picture of him. After he was gone, it occurred to me that I didn’t ask him about his name, his parents or who on Earth were those “They” he referred to, and I felt a stormy feeling of guilt for asking to take his picture and how that could’ve made him feel.

One dinar. One frozen, rain soaked dinar.

I’m not good, I’m not a hero. I bought marshmallows for 2JD’s and this little boy needed only 1JD to go home. A home that probably is not much warmer than the streets he was roaming. A home that he obviously needed to leave in order to collect 1JD.

One bloody, precious dinar.

  • Hal

    This brought tears to my eyes. Don’t be too hard on yourself, Ola. At least you saw him. Most of us seem to allow our eyes to glaze and simply sweep over anything that is out of place in our immediate line of sight, telling ourselves it’s not our problem.

  • Hal

    This brought tears to my eyes. Don’t be too hard on yourself, Ola. At least you saw him. Most of us seem to allow our eyes to glaze and simply sweep over anything that is out of place in our immediate line of sight, telling ourselves it’s not our problem.

  • Nas

    the problem of street peddlers is that the government has resorted to simply rounding them up every now and then as a show of them “getting them off the streets”. their realities however remain unchanged and so they return to the streets the very next day. economically, people are in dire straits and these sort of boys will only increase in the months to come and perhaps years to come. unfortunately.

    if the government insists on spending resources to get them off the streets then they should start by fining their parents for not keeping them in school. they should create small work-school programs that allow these kids to work on simple projects where they get paid and are off the streets at the same time. they should create recreational facilities and work on decreasing the economic burdens of the average Jordanian family.

    throwing them in jail gets us no where.

    i’ll bet you that right after he got your JD, he probably stayed around to collect more or was sent back out for the same purpose.

    it’s unfortunate and as Hal said, we allow these things to sweep right past our eyes.

  • Nas

    the problem of street peddlers is that the government has resorted to simply rounding them up every now and then as a show of them “getting them off the streets”. their realities however remain unchanged and so they return to the streets the very next day. economically, people are in dire straits and these sort of boys will only increase in the months to come and perhaps years to come. unfortunately.

    if the government insists on spending resources to get them off the streets then they should start by fining their parents for not keeping them in school. they should create small work-school programs that allow these kids to work on simple projects where they get paid and are off the streets at the same time. they should create recreational facilities and work on decreasing the economic burdens of the average Jordanian family.

    throwing them in jail gets us no where.

    i’ll bet you that right after he got your JD, he probably stayed around to collect more or was sent back out for the same purpose.

    it’s unfortunate and as Hal said, we allow these things to sweep right past our eyes.

  • Ola

    I find it hard to believe that he had to make only one JD… it just doens’t make sense! Maybe he just said it like that, randomly… but I’m almost sure he had to collect more. And I doubt that his parents are the ones sending him off to the street, because when he said “They” it sounded like “the boss”…

  • Ola

    I find it hard to believe that he had to make only one JD… it just doens’t make sense! Maybe he just said it like that, randomly… but I’m almost sure he had to collect more. And I doubt that his parents are the ones sending him off to the street, because when he said “They” it sounded like “the boss”…

  • By “they”, he most probably meant his “employers” if I may call them so. The sad news is that begging in Jordan is becoming more and more organized, there are gangs that run the business, distribute beggars to their specified locations, track them all day long to make sure they’re not stealing from the money ppl give them, and collect their share at the end of the day. Usually this share is most of what the kid has made all the day, leaving him no more than 1 JD and sometimes only offering homeless kids crappy food ans shelter in return to all their money..
    He said 1 JD simply because if he said 5 nobody will give him a 5!
    The worse news about begging here: Have you seen the all-day-sleeping little infants that some female beggars carry with them? Those infants are available for rental for about 20 JDs aday on average 🙁

  • By “they”, he most probably meant his “employers” if I may call them so. The sad news is that begging in Jordan is becoming more and more organized, there are gangs that run the business, distribute beggars to their specified locations, track them all day long to make sure they’re not stealing from the money ppl give them, and collect their share at the end of the day. Usually this share is most of what the kid has made all the day, leaving him no more than 1 JD and sometimes only offering homeless kids crappy food ans shelter in return to all their money..
    He said 1 JD simply because if he said 5 nobody will give him a 5!
    The worse news about begging here: Have you seen the all-day-sleeping little infants that some female beggars carry with them? Those infants are available for rental for about 20 JDs aday on average 🙁

  • Fazee3a Ola!!!

  • Fazee3a Ola!!!

  • George

    Thanks for the story, I always talk to these kids on the streets and make them tell me how much they make (by giving them 1-2 Dinars). The average make around 12 a day, which is quite high. I met one in Abdoun near Crumz who makes over 20! Your story reminded me of a boy who used to stand near the traffic lights of Swefieh (near my friend’s house). That little boy would sit on the pavement and cry, almost wearing nothing during winter. I saw several people giving him 20s and there was this expat who even gave him his son’s jacket! Of course he hid it after the guy left. I’m sure he makes thousands.
    Too bad no one is taking action! These kids need help, even if they make a lot of money…

  • George

    Thanks for the story, I always talk to these kids on the streets and make them tell me how much they make (by giving them 1-2 Dinars). The average make around 12 a day, which is quite high. I met one in Abdoun near Crumz who makes over 20! Your story reminded me of a boy who used to stand near the traffic lights of Swefieh (near my friend’s house). That little boy would sit on the pavement and cry, almost wearing nothing during winter. I saw several people giving him 20s and there was this expat who even gave him his son’s jacket! Of course he hid it after the guy left. I’m sure he makes thousands.
    Too bad no one is taking action! These kids need help, even if they make a lot of money…

  • Ola, this is a great but sad read. Thanks for making this boy visible ,no matter who is employing him

  • Ola, this is a great but sad read. Thanks for making this boy visible ,no matter who is employing him

  • ola

    You know it just occured to me that probably one if the things that make this problem even worse is that the children involved don’t know that they are being abused and probably believe that they have to do this, they have to earn their living…

  • ola

    You know it just occured to me that probably one if the things that make this problem even worse is that the children involved don’t know that they are being abused and probably believe that they have to do this, they have to earn their living…

  • This phenomena is almost over all places in the world. we should not consider ourselves responsible, in the contrary we add to their suffer by giving them money. of course they are needy ones and used by contractors, who control the streets and the squares.

    Ola : you are a sort of sensitive person, who is touched by such incident. take it easy. George said some of them collect 20 JD /aday. and be sure even of you offer him worm shelter, with good food, education, environment, he would prefere staying in the streets, they just get used to. they are income generating projects and we are their targets. imagine if no one gives any penny, would they still go to the streets. they may then prefere the shelters provided by the ministry of social affairs where food, and education are also provided.

    also real needy persons would not take from the streets.

    As I know from my work with the Family Protection Department, many parents are forcing their chidren for bigging, parents use the money for drinks and drugs , and in best cases for their homes.
    however I can see your point, feeling, and perhaps we can further talk about it. I am deeply sorry to say it is a huge phenomena, and very happy that I didn’t see any bigging person (including children) in the place where I am now – (Tripoli).

  • This phenomena is almost over all places in the world. we should not consider ourselves responsible, in the contrary we add to their suffer by giving them money. of course they are needy ones and used by contractors, who control the streets and the squares.

    Ola : you are a sort of sensitive person, who is touched by such incident. take it easy. George said some of them collect 20 JD /aday. and be sure even of you offer him worm shelter, with good food, education, environment, he would prefere staying in the streets, they just get used to. they are income generating projects and we are their targets. imagine if no one gives any penny, would they still go to the streets. they may then prefere the shelters provided by the ministry of social affairs where food, and education are also provided.

    also real needy persons would not take from the streets.

    As I know from my work with the Family Protection Department, many parents are forcing their chidren for bigging, parents use the money for drinks and drugs , and in best cases for their homes.
    however I can see your point, feeling, and perhaps we can further talk about it. I am deeply sorry to say it is a huge phenomena, and very happy that I didn’t see any bigging person (including children) in the place where I am now – (Tripoli).

  • ola

    I do agree with that and I usually have a strict policy when it comes to beggars, however, in this case I couldn’t help making an exception and yet trying to do something about it by writing this…

  • ola

    I do agree with that and I usually have a strict policy when it comes to beggars, however, in this case I couldn’t help making an exception and yet trying to do something about it by writing this…

  • Othman

    Wow it touched me so deeply from inside,this is why u were telling me about paki’s that they’re poor people… ! Well, what to do this is life eno what can i tell u arrrgh we see plenty of ppl. like those daily here but seriously the picture, i wish that he wasn’t out there in the streets .. Poor boy 🙁
    Alla yesle7 7al el2omeh !

  • Othman

    Wow it touched me so deeply from inside,this is why u were telling me about paki’s that they’re poor people… ! Well, what to do this is life eno what can i tell u arrrgh we see plenty of ppl. like those daily here but seriously the picture, i wish that he wasn’t out there in the streets .. Poor boy 🙁
    Alla yesle7 7al el2omeh !

  • layan

    I like that your subject has causd so much facts to be revealed through the above comments, and i will have to agree with those who said that these kids make so much more than you think, i used to have a weakness towards kids in particular, i knew all these facts above but i still couldnt care less and knew feeling of guilt would kill me if i dont just give at least 1 JD to that poor less privileged kid. But I am sure Ola that we are more intelligent than these attempts to emotionally blackmail us; i’m sure after reading these comments you have already started to notice a pattern just like i did: exactly when it starts to rain or the weather starts to deteriorate these kids appear from no where and position themselves wisely at each traffic lights, they are always cute, neat, but wearing hardly enough to not draw your attention. you dont see any women with babies anymore, at least not as much as you did before, instead you see these kids who would either cry or come to you with an irresistible smile that might be the only thing that lights up your day and you feel obliged to give him the “credit” for it.. you see trends coming up every while, there was this trick of dropping the whole box of gums conveniently at one of the traffic lights, preferably at night, first time i saw that i swear if i had 20 JDs on me i would have given them to the kid so that he doest go back empty handed to whoever has sent him out. when i saw the same scene after a couple of days at the exact same traffic lights i felt as much rage as i had felt pity two days before.
    Last Eid i went early in the morning to draw some money from the ATM to give 3eedyyeh to my younger brother, i was already in the mood of contemplating the unfairness of the world when, just before i opened my car’s door to step out, two kids not more than 5 years old, with their hair combed and clothes ironed, and that heart melting smile requesting “only 1 jd”. i knew the whole story behind them, i knew they chose exxactly to be here next to the ATM on this very first day of Eid, and i’m sure some adult is around (they were younger than usual). however i just couldnt, and i beat myself up until this moment, i gave them one jd each, and watched them walk away and join the man standing at the corner of the street with his back to me. they just came close to him and they walked away without exchanging any words.
    What really perplexes me is these “employers'” experience and deep understanding of our social behavior, they are extremely intelligent; i bet they would make EVEN more money if they started a business with that much of intelligence – but then again no they wouldnt make more money, and they know that, not as long as we are falling for their ways.
    but what really really surprises me is that these people do not work in hidden places, not at least ones where a policemen, or someone of the social development ministry, or any of these entities responsible for these issues, might pass by. it’s happening under everybody’s eyes and its turning into organisations and gangs and seasonal plans; the young men who sell gum or toys at the traffic lights disappear with the first drop of rain and are replaced by kids, because its more profitable etc.
    i’ve said too much:) but i say again how could we allow for such a thing to grow in this ugly manner, kids being taught to act and lie and use their own childhood and innocence to blackmail people for money.
    i only have to ask you Ola, that is if you are still reading me out:), to please resist that feeling next time,it is part of their new psychological approach not to come to you asking for money and let You feel the guilt and call them yourself; make you offer it whole heartedly instead of them harrassing you. giving them money would only encourage their employers to expand their business. and i’m sorry to have o ask you or anyone else for that matter to do that, i’m sorry our government allows for these “employers” to exist and make money on these children’s expense.

  • layan

    I like that your subject has causd so much facts to be revealed through the above comments, and i will have to agree with those who said that these kids make so much more than you think, i used to have a weakness towards kids in particular, i knew all these facts above but i still couldnt care less and knew feeling of guilt would kill me if i dont just give at least 1 JD to that poor less privileged kid. But I am sure Ola that we are more intelligent than these attempts to emotionally blackmail us; i’m sure after reading these comments you have already started to notice a pattern just like i did: exactly when it starts to rain or the weather starts to deteriorate these kids appear from no where and position themselves wisely at each traffic lights, they are always cute, neat, but wearing hardly enough to not draw your attention. you dont see any women with babies anymore, at least not as much as you did before, instead you see these kids who would either cry or come to you with an irresistible smile that might be the only thing that lights up your day and you feel obliged to give him the “credit” for it.. you see trends coming up every while, there was this trick of dropping the whole box of gums conveniently at one of the traffic lights, preferably at night, first time i saw that i swear if i had 20 JDs on me i would have given them to the kid so that he doest go back empty handed to whoever has sent him out. when i saw the same scene after a couple of days at the exact same traffic lights i felt as much rage as i had felt pity two days before.
    Last Eid i went early in the morning to draw some money from the ATM to give 3eedyyeh to my younger brother, i was already in the mood of contemplating the unfairness of the world when, just before i opened my car’s door to step out, two kids not more than 5 years old, with their hair combed and clothes ironed, and that heart melting smile requesting “only 1 jd”. i knew the whole story behind them, i knew they chose exxactly to be here next to the ATM on this very first day of Eid, and i’m sure some adult is around (they were younger than usual). however i just couldnt, and i beat myself up until this moment, i gave them one jd each, and watched them walk away and join the man standing at the corner of the street with his back to me. they just came close to him and they walked away without exchanging any words.
    What really perplexes me is these “employers'” experience and deep understanding of our social behavior, they are extremely intelligent; i bet they would make EVEN more money if they started a business with that much of intelligence – but then again no they wouldnt make more money, and they know that, not as long as we are falling for their ways.
    but what really really surprises me is that these people do not work in hidden places, not at least ones where a policemen, or someone of the social development ministry, or any of these entities responsible for these issues, might pass by. it’s happening under everybody’s eyes and its turning into organisations and gangs and seasonal plans; the young men who sell gum or toys at the traffic lights disappear with the first drop of rain and are replaced by kids, because its more profitable etc.
    i’ve said too much:) but i say again how could we allow for such a thing to grow in this ugly manner, kids being taught to act and lie and use their own childhood and innocence to blackmail people for money.
    i only have to ask you Ola, that is if you are still reading me out:), to please resist that feeling next time,it is part of their new psychological approach not to come to you asking for money and let You feel the guilt and call them yourself; make you offer it whole heartedly instead of them harrassing you. giving them money would only encourage their employers to expand their business. and i’m sorry to have o ask you or anyone else for that matter to do that, i’m sorry our government allows for these “employers” to exist and make money on these children’s expense.

  • Every time I visit Amman and I see the tragedy of our children it break my heart,this is the price of the so called “free” market economy that the government has been taking for the last ten years or so,Iam afraid it’s going to get very desperate and ugly if we don’t force the government to change course and adopt more human economic system or we all are domed Ops I said all ,maybe most of our people but the rich would not give a dame….

  • Every time I visit Amman and I see the tragedy of our children it break my heart,this is the price of the so called “free” market economy that the government has been taking for the last ten years or so,Iam afraid it’s going to get very desperate and ugly if we don’t force the government to change course and adopt more human economic system or we all are domed Ops I said all ,maybe most of our people but the rich would not give a dame….

  • Ola

    Layan: I’ll have to admit, you seem life a much kinder person than I am, because however innocent these kids might look, however cute their smiles might be, I don’t fall easily for them. I rarely give money to any of them because as you said, it only makes the matters worse, and we all know that those kids don’t use that money to feed themselves, but rather to take it back to someone like the man you saw in the corner…

  • Ola

    Layan: I’ll have to admit, you seem life a much kinder person than I am, because however innocent these kids might look, however cute their smiles might be, I don’t fall easily for them. I rarely give money to any of them because as you said, it only makes the matters worse, and we all know that those kids don’t use that money to feed themselves, but rather to take it back to someone like the man you saw in the corner…

  • To analyse any problem that our society is facing,we must look at the root cause,this phenomena is not new and it exists mostly in the countries of the so called southern hemisphere and increasing now in countries like United States;for some reason or another we always tend to blame the victims for their problem and we never ever look of what the government has done to exacerbate that economic problem that has been raising expotentionally ..
    I have one question, Just for the sake of the argument, why has this tragic phenomena been steadily increasing since “our” government has adopted the system (?? ?? ??? ???????? ???? ???? ??????? ???????)

  • To analyse any problem that our society is facing,we must look at the root cause,this phenomena is not new and it exists mostly in the countries of the so called southern hemisphere and increasing now in countries like United States;for some reason or another we always tend to blame the victims for their problem and we never ever look of what the government has done to exacerbate that economic problem that has been raising expotentionally ..
    I have one question, Just for the sake of the argument, why has this tragic phenomena been steadily increasing since “our” government has adopted the system (?? ?? ??? ???????? ???? ???? ??????? ???????)

  • Not only that OLA,
    Those kids have no idea that they are worth more than the 1 JD…they don’t know about their potentials, value and worth!
    and they won’t know untill some system whether governmental or individual delivers the message and prove it!
    I feel guilty.

  • Not only that OLA,
    Those kids have no idea that they are worth more than the 1 JD…they don’t know about their potentials, value and worth!
    and they won’t know untill some system whether governmental or individual delivers the message and prove it!
    I feel guilty.

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  • No you are not bad. Even if you gave him a 100JD. Who is going to give him the next 100?

    I was expecting he would ask for 10JD or 20JD, but when you said 1JD. It seems like he may be telling the truth.

    My cousin and I once saw this woman sitting on the pavement holding a todler. He asked her the same question. How much does she need to let the todler go inside for today.

    I’m one of the people Hala mentioned, who let their eyes look the other way, and think it’s not their problem. If I stop and talk to him, then I will care, and be sad as you became, and I have enough troubles as it is.

  • No you are not bad. Even if you gave him a 100JD. Who is going to give him the next 100?

    I was expecting he would ask for 10JD or 20JD, but when you said 1JD. It seems like he may be telling the truth.

    My cousin and I once saw this woman sitting on the pavement holding a todler. He asked her the same question. How much does she need to let the todler go inside for today.

    I’m one of the people Hala mentioned, who let their eyes look the other way, and think it’s not their problem. If I stop and talk to him, then I will care, and be sad as you became, and I have enough troubles as it is.

  • almashkalgy

    Why there is mean and rude people around here?

  • almashkalgy

    Why there is mean and rude people around here?

  • skavvas

    Sometimes people beg for money bick they are sick or they work for someone usually these people have money to live but they just can’t live with out begging for money

  • skavvas

    Sometimes people beg for money bick they are sick or they work for someone usually these people have money to live but they just can’t live with out begging for money