NGOs use public hospitals to solicit for alms
A syndicate purporting to be soliciting for funds from the public to cater for vulnerable groups in society such as children is gradually gaining grounds in most streets of Accra and Kumasi.
So far, three groups have been identified begging for alms from the public to assist children with certain ailments and chronic diseases.
They are the Noble Touching Lives Foundation (NTLF) Ghana, OPAID Savers Foundation and Bid Care Foundation, who described themselves as non-governmental organisations (NGOs).
Individuals who pose as representatives of the groups are usually seen dressed in different uniforms and attires asking for money.
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Their actions have become a common feature as they are seen moving from one vehicle to another asking for alms, no matter how little, on many streets in the two cities.
Since October 2017, The Mirror has observed with keen interest that members of these groups carry boxes with gory pictures of children and inscriptions of the name of their organisations as they hop from one vehicle to another to entice passengers to give to their ‘charity.’
They are usually seen on major streets such as the Kaneshie First Light intersection, Awoshie-Pokuase highway, the Okponglo Shiashie stretch and the major intersection on the Airport road.
They quote some verses from the Bible and manage to draw sympathy from the public, especially commuters, who part with some money.
Begging in Korle Bu’s name
The Mirror also found that personnel from the NTLF Ghana and Bid Care Foundation, for instance, tell commuters that the money collected would be used to assist children with certain ailments and chronic diseases at the Korle Bu Teaching Hospital.
“We are from the NTLF Ghana, located at the Korle Bu main entrance; we are collecting money to help children with ailments and chronic diseases at the Korle Bu Teaching Hospital. Please know that if you give to these children, God will bless you,” they are usually heard saying.
Meanwhile, the management of the Korle Bu Teaching Hospital has distanced itself from the activities of the NTLF Ghana and any other organisation using its name to beg for alms.
According to the Head of the Public Relations Unit of the hospital, Mr Mustapha Salifu, even though the hospital was aware of the group, it had gone there to caution its management to desist from soliciting for funds from the public using the name of the hospital.
Mr Salifu explained that the management only became aware of the activities of the group a month after it presented a dud cheque to the hospital.
“We have not contracted any organisation to collect money from the public on our behalf. We do not know this group, how it operates and who it renders accounts to,” he explained.
NTLF Ghana reacts
Reacting to Korle Bu’s concerns, the Project Coordinator of NTLF Ghana, Mr George Annan, said the organisation does not use the name of the hospital to solicit for funds.
“We only ask our volunteers to tell the public that the money will be used to operate on children born with deformities. But we have explained that to the management of Korle Bu,” he stated.
When asked what the funds were used for, Mr Annan indicated that they were used to assist children with deformities at the Korle Bu and Komfo Anokye teaching hospitals.
On a daily basis, he revealed, an estimated amount of GH¢500 to GH¢1000 is made from the public.
“Our aim is to solicit for funds from the public to help operate on children born deformed. We also go to schools and marketplaces to educate women on the need to adopt good lifestyles when pregnant.
“When we started, we had little to operate with, but now we’ve been soliciting for funds from the public to help us with our work,” he emphasised.
Mr Annan admitted that it presented a cheque to the hospital but it bounced because it had not matured at the time of presentation, “but we later went to pay the money after our attention was drawn to that”.
He showed pictures as evidence of some of the things the group embarks on, including a donation to the hospital.
He further displayed a certificate purported to be recognition granted it by the Department of Social Welfare as an NGO.
When The Mirror contacted the Bid Care Foundation through telephone numbers inscribed on their boxes, a gentleman who only gave his name as Ebenezer started playing hide-and-seek with this reporter.
This was after he arranged meetings with this reporter on two occasions, but gave excuses as to why he could not turn up on both instances.
Several attempts to convince him to tell this reporter the location of the foundation for a one-on-one interview also proved futile as he kept giving flimsy excuses and the need to ascertain the identity of the reporter before the exercise.
Even though volunteers from OPAID Savers Foundation said they were located at Achimota, attempts made to speak to them also failed to yield any results.
Law against begging
Under the Beggars and Destitutes Act, 1969 (NLCD 392), any person found begging, wandering or placing himself in any premises or place for the purpose of begging may be arrested by a police officer without warrant and shall be liable on conviction to a fine not exceeding GH¢50 or to imprisonment not exceeding three months, or to both.
The law for instance exempts soliciting or receiving alms in accordance with a religious custom or the custom of a community, or for a public charitable purpose or organised entertainment.
However, it imposes liability on other persons who are not directly involved in but encourage begging.
The law also prevents people from permitting or encouraging others to engage in the act.