In Malawi, a Christian group, Torch Trust International, is trying to help rehabilitate blind beggars and return them to their homes. Torch Trust launched a program to help blind beggars in the cities after researching their reasons for begging.
Reverend Winston Chidzam'mbuyo is the national coordinator of Torch Trust International in Malawi. He says, "When we chatted with them we found that they are compelled to live in [towns begging], not because they enjoy it but they said because they don't have any help there in the village. Even when there are things to be distributed to poor people, chiefs do not consider them much. Things like free fertilizer and the like when there are floods. So they said even if they go to the village there is no help there."
Chidzam'mbuyo says the organization is building houses for the returnees in their home villages, and providing them with basic items like soap, sugar and clothes. They are also given some training and capital to start a small-scale business.
He says, "This program is somehow successful. Not less than 300 visually impaired people were rehabilitated. Those who are there are now independent and rely on themselves since most of them have been to blind schools and know how to cultivate. They can manage a garden and raise poultry."
But he says the effort does face some problems, "The challenge is to keep them there. Some of them have returned to Blantyre. We try to make them return but you know some of these brothers and sisters think that begging is their right and that begging is their main source of income. [Therefore] the major challenge is how to convince them to stop begging."
He says despite the fact that it's a Christian organization, Torch Trust International is not linked to any particular church. He says the beneficiaries are encouraged to be spiritual either by attending religious fellowships conducted by the organization or by joining religious denominations of their choice.
Chidzam'mbuyo says the Torch Trust has a similar program in Mozambique. It may expand the program to other countries if funds are available.