By Suleiman Hassan, Garissa.
Residents of Garissa have been excited and shocked in equal measure following news that a beggar from the town is among pilgrims heading to Makah for this year’s annual Muslim pilgrimage – Hajj.
Mr. Ahmadey Madaafan Saney used to frequent mosques, businesses and other public places for his panhandling business and has managed to save over two hundred and fifty thousand Kenya shillings for the annual journey.
The average household in Garissa makes less than ten thousand Kenya shillings per month and there is fear that his revelations could open a pandora box that could see more people join his trade.
Most people who traveled from Garissa and North Eastern Kenya at large to perform the fifth pillar of Islam have either made their money through business or sale of livestock which forms the main economic activity of this region making Ahmadey’s case exceptional.
Biting droughts and the abrupt closure of the Garissa passport office have thrown into disarray plans by many to make to the annual event and the fact that Panhandler Ahmadey made it on time goes a long way in proving how smart he was.
Ahmadey said that he used to bank his daily collections less his upkeep with Postbank adding that he consistently saved for the last two years with the intention of performing Hajj.
“I have no wealth that will enable me carry out my religious obligations such as Hajj. I therefore sought the assistance of my brothers and sisters through begging. I am very happy today and I pray for peace and prosperity for Garissa and its residents” a jovial Ahmadey told Nepjournal.
On their part those who contributed to his till day in day out have mixed reactions. Some welcomed the move while others feel conned.
“I don’t make that much money, but I once reached for my pocket and gave him everything I had. Two hundred Kenya shillings at the time” says Abdikadir, a civil servant in Garissa.
Mr. Abdikadir feels outsmarted and conned saying that he may never stretch out his hand again to a beggar.
Abdullahi Ibrahim, a shop owner in the town, says Ahmadey was very smart and is happy that he spent the money in the right way. It would have been worse had he spend it on illegal activities. I am happy for him. May the Almighty Allah accept his Hajj and also make it easy for us to follow him soon In sha Allah” added Abdullahi.