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School children flocking Watamu beaches to beg from tourists

The  Tourism stakeholders  in Malindi have called on the government and other stakeholders to take decisive steps and stop school going children from begging from tourists.

They said the menace was rampant in the beaches of Watamu where the children flock to beg for maize flour while others demand cash claiming they do not have food at home due to poverty.

The stakeholders, who held a meeting at the St. Marks Anglican Church in Jacaranda area on Wednesday, said the problem was rampant during the August school holidays and that since schools had re-opened, many children are seen at the beaches during week-ends.

Most  of  the children are from schools in Jacaranda, Mbaraka Chembe and Jimba Gede, the stakeholders, who included Malindi Anglican Bishop Lawrence Dena, Jacaranda Resort General Manager Daniele Tirito, the hotel’s Marketing Manager, Pietro Marsella, assistant chiefs, village elders and traders, noted.

They said they feared the trend could propagate sex tourism and destroy the future of the children who may not continue with education if the menace is not stemmed forthwith.

It was noted that some of the children accompanied their parents, who sell curios and other items in the beaches, where they perfect the art of begging as their parents sell their wares to the tourists.

Some of the children have mastered the Italian language which they use to communicate with the visitors.

The Jacaranda Beach Resort General Manager, Daniele Tirito and Marketing Manager, Pietro Marsella convened the emergency meeting with the community and church leaders as well as the administrators at the St. Marks ACK Church in Jacaranda to find a way of stopping the vice.

“This issue needs attention of the community. Children must be made to be busy at home so they keep off the beach,”  Tirito said saying there was a possibility of children who go to the beaches to drop out of school.

Bishop Dena urged parents to take their responsibilities seriously and guide their children properly instead of allowing them to beg in the beaches, noting that such activities could affect their education.

‘‘Kilifi, county is infamous for teenage pregnancies and the behaviour of the children on the beaches could escalate the menace,” he said.

He said the practice of begging from tourists could also adversely affect tourism as the visitors could easily shun Kenyan beaches due to harassment. He noted that there were reports that sexual activities were going on in the beaches in broad daylight.

Ms. Esther Jumwa, who operates a business opposite Jacaranda Beach Resort said she had witnessed parents and their children begging from tourists.

By  Emmanuel Masha

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