Wednesday, February 16, 2011

to give or not to give...

when confronted with a street child at your car window or on your way into a restaurant, you probably wonder what to do. maybe sometimes you give something to get rid of the child or maybe you feel guilty about your own privilege. perhaps you wonder whether you should give at all...

not giving
most of the children you see on the streets are sent by their family to earn money. not giving money means these families lose their only income. in the short-term this is catastrophic.

most children living on the streets use the money they receive to buy thinners, glue or a video game. in the long-term giving money is a death sentence: children learn to be street children - they start strolling and leave their families without an income.

is there a third option?
- greet the children you see begging on the streets. ask if you can give food instead. they'll move on if they don't want to chat. genuine concern is something money cannot communicate.
- give something really normal like a balloon or sweets. children on the streets are still children.
- give the money you would give on the streets to the programs that are helping address the problem of children on the streets. programs include soup kitchens, day programs, shelters and educational/vocational training opportunities. there are more than 200 children begging on the streets of cape town on a typical working day. a great deal of money that could be used by programs to help these children is being given away by the public.
- support initiative and effort. many people on the streets make a living by selling things, washing cars and gathering paper for recycling. encourage this. for instance: don't have your office's waste paper collected, contract street people to do it for you.

rescues 150 runaway girls per year from the street life. we reunite 95% with their families/communities. providing 24-hour accommodation, counseling and education while undertaking the complex reunification process, is the key to our success.

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