July 23, 2017: Igoeti, a village lying 40 kilometers northwest of Tbilisi has now seen its beggars turning into coin catchers, using magnetic sticks to collect coins tossed by motorists passing through it. Each type of coin, as the beggars say, makes a distinctive sound when it hits the road. “I neither have a home nor electricity, what else should I do? Since 2000, I’ve been coming here and begging for money” said the fuming old lady collecting coins through her stick.
“The one-lari coin sounds like a bell to me, the two-lari coin makes a thudding sound when it hits the road while the 50 tetri has a more thin and pleasant sound,” said an old male beggar. It was also seen that differentiating between coins is a left-hand game for these beggars. Tramps here are clever enough to not get deceived by people giving them counterfeit coins. “Counterfeit coins are made of aluminum and I can recognize those ones.” said a sharp witted middle aged male beggar.
Data from Georgian Statistics establishes that 12% of Georgians are unemployed with no minimum wage and an average monthly salary of $400. Timings between 10 am to 7 pm is found to be their most crucial time of earning, after that it’s pointless since the influx of cars declines and there is no traffic to be seen on the roads. Their plight is evident in the way they are seen the whole day roaming beside the road changing places with other tramps to get a penny to feed their family.
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“I might make up to 10 Lari $4 per day, but how can I collect more, when they are so many of us having an eagle eye for the coin?” said a tired middle aged lady beside the road. Some beggars are seen here every day while some have an erratic presence, as mentioned by an old guy. “If I find work, I go there, on other days, I am standing here, what better thing can I do right now?”. Poverty begets poverty, and the predicament of these beggars doesn’t seem to improve even after 16 years.
-Prepared by Tusheeta Kaushik of Newsgram