Bringing street children into the fold

Published: August 17, 2010

Most street kids are willing to get an education and employment.

After I wrote a blog for The Express Tribune and I Own Pakistan, I got so many positive and negative comments that I decided to work further on the project and come up with a successful model for educating beggars in Karachi. The gist of my idea was that:

On each and every signal we should install a small box for water with surf or any other cleaning material and a few wipers. Two to three kids should be assigned to each signal with one official to collect money. All these kids should be provided uniforms and they should have standardised times for their duty. There should also be a standardised system for distribution of money to each child at the end of their shifts. Each child should also join the team by filing paper work, and it should be mandatory for all of them to attend school in the morning.

We conducted a survey at 15 different traffic signals in the city and got responses from kids who earn an average of Rs150-200 per day. We found that in the morning beggars would stay on signals and after 5pm another team would arrive with a variety of things to sell or with wipers to clean car windscreens.

The children told us that sometimes the police would come and arrest them and keep them in custody for a few hours and at other times they would usurp their  earnings.  The kids at the McDonald Chowrangi on Tariq Road said that almost on a daily basis, each evening four to five young boys would come and take Rs100 forcibly from each child. If the children resisted, the boys would beat them up in addition to taking all their money.

I am pleased that we have received a very positive response from all the street kids we met and they were all willing to get education and employment. I will upload the complete survey file on my blog. We also plan to meet with people from the Zindagi Trust and ask them about the difficulties they have faced in the past.

We will now get permission for one traffic signal and implement our idea of giving a model project to the entire nation thus proving that this is a workable idea.

An average of nine kids work on one signal and if their average income is Rs200 per child that equals Rs1,800 for all of them. We will enroll each of the kids in The Citizen Foundation School or Zindagi Trust School as both of these organisations are willing to give them education for free. Their total earnings for a month are Rs55,800 while the cost for their uniforms and shoes is around Rs18,000 which maybe needed twice a year.

If the government allows us to implement this idea on a traffic signal, then we can work there and make that traffic signal beautiful with company branding (any company that sponsors that signal). We can offer then offer any consumer brand a chance to sell their products on that signal and use the earnings for the benefit of those kids.

What is needed now is a team to make this idea a reality. I request readers to join me in this initiative as this project cannot be executed alone.


Abid Beli

Founder of E-Retail and E-Kitchen businesses in Pakistan. A Social Media Consultant, a blogger and an anchor at He tweets @abidbeli

The views expressed by the writer and the reader comments do not necessarily reflect the views and policies of The Express Tribune.

  • parvez

    Amazing Abid, you are a doer and not a talker. This country needs people like you.Recommend

  • Saira

    wonderful idea!Recommend

  • Abeer

    i thnk its an amazng idea…Recommend

  • salman jafri

    you have to go the administrator of Karachi and speak to politicians in Karachi as you might be breaking law on advertising hoarding or banners rules in Karachi which you forgot.Recommend

  • Ghausia

    a) Your idea isn’t to educate children but to promote child labour and throw in enrollment at free schools to sweeten the deal and b) Are you aware that these children are owned by bigger, dangerous people? Or are you not aware of the mafia situation among our beggars?

    Your survey is admirable. Your plan is ridiculous. Why not just enroll them in school without making them work?!Recommend

  • abc

    @ ghausia

    Thats the first thing i thought, he’s promoting child labour. but do u have a better idea? atleast this way the kids get to take some money home and get educated. currently, all they’re doing is working.. now you’d say why not cough up the funds, pay them for coming to school like Zindagi Trust. Because there is always a shortage of funds. Before critizising someone it is better to try and do something about it yourself, atleast the writer is trying to take some steps in his own way. Are you?Recommend

  • Sakina

    amazing idea sir! sure would love to help you in any way possible…more details required! :)Recommend

  • Ghausia

    @abc Then educate them for free. Simple. I may not be doing something, but at least I’m not promoting child labour. Recommend

  • Kashif

    Dear Abid…..

    I Think to implement this idea you require a team of not only dedicated people but also they must know how to deal with the MAFIA involved in the begging. You may also have to deal with them and to go for some legal procedure/requirements also. No doubt the idea is absolutely revolutionary.

    second thing that we have to make it sure that the children are going to schools regularly and also they really want to get education not the amount given by ZINDAGI TRUST. As far as I know about the street children they are very difficult to go for any other activity particularly for EDUCATION. But I am hopeful that you and your team can make a difference, as nothing is impossible, the only need is to be consistent.

    Very Best of Luck….. Recommend

  • abc

    @ ghausia

    and what about the money they need to feed their families? you do know that that is why most children who have the option, dont go to school?Recommend

  • Ghausia

    In most scenarios, they’re forced to work by druggie parents. In other scenarios, they’re stolen by mafia guys and forced to work. The woman at the signal carrying a baby and asking for money to feed it? That’s probably either a bought or rented baby. Which Pakistan do you delusional naive children live in?!Recommend

  • Sakina

    @Ghausia… come on, whats the deal about…child labour is already happening in our country. the idea would help improve the literacy rates. And as for your above comment, I think most of us know about all these mafia gangs being involved,but that should not be so discouraging that we let the poor children bear the consequences, as they have been. A change is what we want to improve the situation of our country and if you believe it could happen by sitting at home and without getting our hands dirty then i’m sorry,but its you who’s living in the disillusioned world.Recommend

  • Ghausia

    Listen, just because child labour is already an existent problem doesn’t mean that we should promote it in any way. Whether they’re paid or not, it doesn’t matter. Would you want your children to be out on the streets in the sweltering heat, working themselves to exhaustion? Would you want to put them at the risk of being swooped up in some car and taken to a brothel? Its a very good thing what Mr. Beli is doing, and all his supporters should also send their children to work on the streets because then they’ll learn how to be responsible and learn the importance of money.

    I know plenty of individuals and organizations that teach children for free, with all expenses coming out of their own pocket. I hardly think that’s disillusionment. I think the CEO of such a booming business like Beliscity can easily do the same without making the children work. Mask it up with as many sweet deals and inspiring goals as you want, child labour is still child labour, an ugly, vicious, cruel trade.Recommend

  • Madiha Mustafa

    Um surprised n amazed…if this idea works than definetly things are going to b much better :)))Recommend

  • Abid Beli

    Thanks Ghausia for your criticism. I love it when people criticize or give negative comments on my posts or status because i learn from these comments & feel more power/strength to do these work.Recommend

  • forex robot

    Keep posting stuff like this i really like itRecommend

  • Sahib Karim Khan

    Abid Bhai I appreciate your positive attitude towards solving this problem & I am with you for this noble cause. But I would suggest that you people should do some more homework on this before implementing the idea. It’s a fantastic idea however needs to be a little customized.

    It’s always better to get people’s critical view because it makes the project even better (It’s an opportunity to move the stones that we left untouched previously) therefore I would say Great Idea however needs a little tuning.

    Overall I am impressed & with you on this.


  • Abid Beli

    Thanks Friends for your kind support, Do watch tomorrow morning show on Express 24/7 related with that project.Recommend

  • Maniha Aamir Barry

    Good work your doing. Keep it up. Recommend