What can we do to help street children? How can we help them when money is clearly not the answer? How can we make sure that the money we donate to these children is being used properly?
The sad truth is that we cannot help these children most of the time and the money that we are offering them is going to organized mobs that are recruiting and exploiting them most of the time. Moreover, our government has been neglecting this issue for a long time even though begging and child labor are both illegal in Lebanon and the only organization in Lebanon that offers a refuge to both Lebanese and non-Lebanese street children (Home of Hope) is not receiving enough funds to do its job.
These children need to be taken out of the street and put back in school, but things are easier said and the Syrian crisis has unfortunately made things even worse. Hundreds if not thousands of families are living in the streets of Beirut and you cannot go anywhere without spotting child beggars these days.
So What Can Be Done?
As I’ve stated in a previous post, we need a new strategy to cope with this ever-growing problem and the work that the ministry of social affairs has been doing is less than pathetic. We need new ideas and initiatives to help and I think “The Good Note” is a good way to start.
What is The Good Note?
“The Good Note” is an initiative kicked off by Bou Khalil supermarkets to give children on the streets the things they need, without the risk of funding any unsavory trade or perpetuating an unfortunate cycle. Good Notes are worth the same amount as the 1000 Lebanese pound bill but can only be spent at Bou Khalil Supermarkets on necessities such as food, water, household supplies, personal hygiene items and small treats. Bou Khalil Supermarket also tied up with Pharmalife pharmacy in Hazmieh so that Good Notes can also be used to buy medicine to those in need.
You can buy these good notes in bonds of five at all 11 Bou khalil supermarket branches across Lebanon and Pharmalife pharmacy in Hazmieh. Dar Bistro in Hamra is also selling them.
Will It Work?
“The Good Note” will not bring these children back to school or out of the street, but it will encourage more people to help them and provide them indirectly with the things they need. I love the initiative and what would make it even better is if these notes are used and shared by other supermarkets and corporate and non-corporate entities. We need a large network of supermarkets and shops to join Bou Khalil because these children are unfortunately everywhere. For example, if you wish to give good notes to street children in Achrafieh, they will have to go all the way to Kraytem to claim these notes so it’s not very practical.
Nevertheless, thumbs up to Bou Khalil for coming up with this nice idea! You can read more about it [here].