Why should I THINK before giving money to begging children?
In most cities, you will see children begging on the streets which puts them at high risk of being abused and jeopardizes their futures. You might think that giving them money is helping them when in fact it keeps them on the streets. When you give money, you prevent these children from receiving the support they need to build a better future. THINK about this: * Begging children are at high risk of sexual abuse and rape. * Begging children often use the money you give them to buy drugs * When you give money to children, you keep them on the streets and take away their childhood. * When you give money to begging children you prevent them from seeking a better and safer life. * When you give money to begging children you keep them trapped in a life of poverty and dependency. * When you give money to begging children you actually hurt them by keeping them in dangerous situations on the streets. What are alternatives to giving money to begging children? 1. ChildSafe recommends to find and support services in your area that help children to leave the streets and be safe. Friends-International is building a worldwide network of organizations that provide quality services for street children and vulnerable urban youth. Please have a look at the list. Also in areas where Friends-International is not active, search for quality projects. Friends-International recommends to you to look out for the following key characteristics of good organizations: * Child Protection policy in place (e.g. not allowing visitors to just walk in unaccompanied to have direct access to children) * Educational and vocational training programs * Ultimate aim to reintegrate former begging children back into society (family, school, employment, community) * Local staff working directly with the children (no foreigners working directly with kids) * Monitoring and evaluation of all programs and independent, clear public financial reports 2. Buy ChildSafe Certified Products Buying ChildSafe Certified Products offers an effective alternative to giving money directly to children. Two types of ChildSafe Certified Products exist: They are made by parents so children can go to school, or they are made by youth in training so they can find sustainable, rewarding employment. All ChildSafe Certified Products help to provide a future away from the streets for children and youth and they prohibit the involvement of child labor. ChildSafe Certified Products are available at all Friends outlets in Cambodia and Laos as well as via the website. Read more 3. Eat at training restaurants Friends runs several nice restaurants which train former street children in cooking and serving food. If you eat at these restaurants (Phnom Penh, Laos PDR and coming up in Siem Reap, Hong Kong and others) you support these training programs and ensure a safe and productive future for the kids. Also other organizations have training restaurants – check them out. 4. Support the local economy Staying in family run guesthouses, paying fair prices at the market or when you buy from adult street sellers and for local transport supports poor families. With their income, families can support their children’s schooling. Buy from parents – not from kids! 5. Saying “NO” to begging children is difficult. Give a friendly smile instead. It is nice to learn some words in the local language, so people refusing to give to beggars don’t seem rude but can chat with the kids and ask them whether they know the local organization where they can go to get support. Read more ChildSafe Tips What is the THINK campaign? * The THINK campaign is the first international campaign of ChildSafe. On striking images it shows the (indirect) results of giving money to begging children. * The campaign is managed by ChildSafe Network and sponsored by the Skoll Foundation. The images were designed by Pascal Colrat, a famous French designer. * The messages are not country specific, but tailored to be international and true all over the world where people see begging children. Who is the artist? Pascal Colrat is a French artist who has become extremely popular for his work creating striking images by mixing his photographs with graphic design. He uses billboards, posters, postcards and other forms of mass media to make his art available to the largest number of people. His work is presented in prestigious museums and galleries in Europe and the US. He frequently works with theaters (National Opera in France) and NGOs (Act Up, Reporters without Boarders, Handicap International) in Europe. Pascal has published books on his travels in Belarus (nuclear contamination of children – 2002), Beirut (after the war – 2007), Laos (political signs – 2006), USA (gangs of southern Los Angeles and the star system – 2005) and the Caribbean (psychological breakdown and slavery – 2005). Pascal started working with Friends-International in 2007 after visiting the Friends project Peuan Mit, in Laos. The Launch * The THINK campaign was launched in Phnom Penh, Cambodia on the 13th February 2008 * The THINK campaign will be launched again in Paris on the 3rd May 2008 in the Theatre du Tarmac (a tarmac is the landing and departure area in an airport) that is famous for its international programming. Friends-International started collaborating with the Theatre du Tarmac in 2007 with an exhibition of its work with street children.