Street cleaners deserve charity
SOME people in the Kingdom oppose giving Zakat or Sadaqa (charity) money to cleaning workers. They argue that the workers should not abandon their work to beg at the traffic lights or in front of shopping malls, waiting for motorists and shoppers to give them something.
They justify their opposition by saying the workers are being paid for their jobs so they should not quit them to go out begging.
In my opinion, this opposition does not take into consideration a number of matters, including the reasons that oblige this section of expatriate workers to beg.
The critics should ask themselves some questions. Why did this trend not appear in the past? Is it true that the cleaners quit the original jobs for which they have been brought in, just to beg?
Why are the companies that brought these people in after signing cleaning contracts with the municipalities turning a blind eye when they see them begging, even though they are paid monthly salaries?
When we look at their monthly salaries we will find they are extremely meager and too little to meet their daily expenses.
These cleaners have only obtained their recruitment visas after paying dearly to more than one party in their home countries to win the visas.
A cleaning worker might have obtained a loan, sold his cattle, his humble village home and other valuables to be able to pay the fees required for obtaining the work visa.
When he arrives in the Kingdom, he will need to work for at least two years to collect the sum of SR10,000 that he must have paid to the visa brokers.
To be able to pay his debts or compensate his family for the home and cattle he has sold, the cleaner will have to save his entire monthly salary of SR400 or SR500 for at least 24 months.
Who is responsible for the high price these workers have to pay so they can work in the Kingdom? The need for their services is one of the reasons behind contracting them for a job that citizens or expatriates will shy away from doing.
Had it not been for their extreme poverty and pressing need, these cleaners will not have agreed to leave their homes and opt to live in exile.
Why do the cleaning companies exploit their need for work and pay them peanuts for a job other people will not be willing to do?
The work these cleaners do is of vital importance. Had it not been for them, the garbage in all our cities and towns would have stockpiled, causing many diseases and contaminating the environment.
The claim that the cleaners quit their jobs to beg is not accurate. Their companies will not allow them to do this during their working hours. The companies have supervisors to watch them.
However, these companies turn a blind eye to cleaners who beg after their official working hours. They know that if they object to their begging after working hours they will pay the price. The companies are happy that their employees are accepting their low pay, which they supplement through begging.
In conclusion, I strongly believe that the cleaning workers deserve to be given Zakat and Sadaqa. They are eligible for this because they are poor.