Beggars can’t be choosers

The other day whilst leaving my house to buy bread and juice from the corner store, I walked past this beggar boy who always stands near the house, yet unlike most of the boys who run up to someone like they are a celebrity demanding that you “do not break their heart”, this boy never out stretches his hand, never harasses, never pushes, he just wanders on the outskirts of groups with his bobbles, (which appear to be earrings or danglers of sorts). So this time I decided to pick up a sandwhich on my way back home, when I saw him playing byhimself with stones and bottles, I approached him and showed him the sandwhich, then I motioned for him to sit with me to eat. I was quite shocked at his response as he politely thanked me for my offer, said he is only looking for some money. He then shook my hand, touched his chest and walked off.

I was rather stunned at what just transpired. The only thing I can think of was that he fears someone is watching him taking food and not money, or else perhaps he wasn’t malnourished at all. Either way, we know money will keep them on the streets, likely organized peddler’s rings as I’ve heard exist.

The streets are no place for them, the august floods claimed over 17 childrens lives. Where can these children go for an education and a chance?

28 Comments so far

  1. Lies (unregistered) on January 29th, 2007 @ 5:47 pm

    The Citizen’s Foundation runs schools for 40,000 children, many of whom come from the streets. Perhaps you can contact them with the details:

  2. d0ct0r (unregistered) on January 29th, 2007 @ 6:04 pm

    I alway keep biscuit ticky packs in my vehicle and whenever these kids approach on signals, i simply hand them these biscuits which they happily accept… instead of giving them money its a better option to give them some edibles ..

  3. SK (unregistered) on January 29th, 2007 @ 6:05 pm

    It is true that about 80-90% of the children are forced to beg for money by human traffickers, and in most of the cases by their parents or elders.

    At present, there doesn’t seem any place for these children apart from seeking refuge in shelters/SOS villages. But that too doesn’t guarantee them an education that might help them earn a decent living.

    Begging can only be controlled if there is due coordination between NGO’s and the government (especially the police).

    One of my professors back at my university presented an idea to prevent people from begging after the October 2005 earthquake and it worked out pretty good. About 300 youth have so far taken advantage of this venture and the number is growing with time.

    He proposed to establish a fund and start a business like a general store instead of giving the effected people food supplies, which would only help them for a few days.

    Hire one person for the store and give them 40% of the proposed income. This will go on until the entire amount invested is retrieved (without interest of course), leaving the person with the ownership of the business. He could then choose to work with us and help us establish another business (like we did) or by himself.

    I think this concept can be modified for urban areas all we need are a few investors. :D

  4. Kashif (unregistered) on January 29th, 2007 @ 6:55 pm

    @SK: I am interested and like to know more about this.

  5. MB (unregistered) on January 29th, 2007 @ 7:58 pm

    Hey thats interesting.
    More info on that please

  6. Imran (unregistered) on January 29th, 2007 @ 9:25 pm


    That sounds like a good solution to a grave problem, and yes, the problem belongs to society at large not just the kids/individuals who are being wasted every generation.

    Your positive attitude in suggesting a solution made me think about the root “cause” of this problem. One would normally cite lack of (education) as the root cause. However Economics made it clear in the developed nations {ages ago} that limited resources stretched between un-limited wants can play HAVOC with society, as it evidently is in Pakistan = where an average family has 7-8 kids!!!!!!!! I did a small study as part of my social work.

    The root “source” of the problem then, is POPULATION.

    It sounds harsh, but we have to do MORE for birth control. If we just take Karachi for instance, Wikipedia ranks our city No.2 on the list of cities by population!!! Developed nations like Japan, Sweden etc are generous & determined enough to (help us) control our productive trends but thanks to the fundamentalist elements (of) our country, those birth control efforts are continually thwarted at the mass level, where the problem lies in its most severe form i.e. families living below the poverty line are the most prolific procreators! Hence the over-population and the inevitable resort to begging.

    But who can help us if we dont want to help ourselves, thanks to sheer IGNORANCE. Maulana Saheb ne kaha hai “Birth Control religion ke khilaf hai!” said our maid who’s a mother of 8 and another’s on the way!
    Right! :(

    This is a grave problem indeed. I COULD HAVE BEEN BORN IN SUCH A HOME. Its just ‘the accident of birth’ that put me in a better place.

    Wikipedia links:

  7. Adnan Siddiqi (unregistered) on January 29th, 2007 @ 10:49 pm

    what about parents who have only one kid but still suffer for food? birth control is a lame idea and countries who promoted birth control are requesting people to give birth some kids to increase population.

    Sk,your teacher’s idea is nice and a bit similar to Dr.Younus’ business model which he introduced for Beggars. One would like to read here to know further. One of my friend told me that in BD ,these beggars were used as a “salesman” and were successfully utilized for door-to-door campaign for certain product. The reasons which I think it went successfull were 1)they don’t hesitate because they are already used to face all kind of people 2)they know how to fool others[this is all about marketing]. If Dr. Younus could introduce it in BD then why is it impossible in Pakistan? Shahzad Roy is also doing a wonderful job by running “I am paid to learn” campaign which helped many beggar kids to get education and theya re paid as well.

  8. Phil (unregistered) on January 30th, 2007 @ 1:04 am

    People with money, and mansions are able to afford to atleast accomodate one such life, and provide for them the basic education till 12th grade in Pakistan. A scholarship of sort. If we look out there, I think every less previliged child falls in merit to get something back from our pockets.

    I am not saying we should adopt children and make it a “rag to riches” story, but to simply give them something they are missing, and will make a huge change in their lives.

  9. BoZz (unregistered) on January 30th, 2007 @ 1:15 am

    Birth Control is very much the answer to start with. Those who cannot see its benefit have no understanding of economics, growth or sustainment. Without birth control the above idea, though holy will not prove to provide any sort of relief in general. Pakistan needs to curb its birth rate on war foot.

  10. SK (unregistered) on January 30th, 2007 @ 1:16 am

    @Kashif, MB, Imran, Adnan Siddiqi: I would love to share this idea with you guys. I am currently on vacations with my parents in Muscat, Oman and I will return to my job (which is in Lahore) by the second week of February (with a stopover in Karachi for 4-5 days), if anyone is interested in meeting me, he is more than welcome. All we need to do would be to formulate the business plan according to the urban areas of Pakistan especially the three major cities. If possible email me at, so that I can share the business plan with you guys and help us improve it.

    @ Adnan Siddiqi: Yes it is a bit familiar with Dr. Younus’ idea but what he focussed was micro financing, i.e., giving loans to people who inturn would return it when they are mature. We are not giving them loans instead we are providing them with a setup to run and transfering it to them once our investment is completely withdrawn from the project, which usually takes about two years at most.

  11. SK (unregistered) on January 30th, 2007 @ 1:27 am

    Can anyone invite me as a writer to this forum???

  12. Adnan K (unregistered) on January 30th, 2007 @ 1:29 am

    Give a man a fish and he will eat for one day, teach a man to fish and…

    Great ideas going here! Keep up the good work guys!

  13. Neoka (unregistered) on January 30th, 2007 @ 1:45 am

    These are really good ideas, and they could work!
    In fact they have!

    On the issue of birthcontrol, lack of it also leads to a rise in HIV/AIDS cases, especially among lower class and even more so, spread through truckers routes. To deny the rising epidemic is to ignore an approaching army until its too late.

    I commend SK for taking this forward and proposing action. Cound me in for sure.
    The current state of MicroFinance in Pakistan as I have been exposed to thus far is wildly too bureaucratic and far slower in actual impact then it should be. Individual led projects sounds like a great way to make an impact. Just requires some of us to turn our pocket change into an investment in someone without access to as much education as we enjoy. The beauty of this, according to Dr. Yunus is that they have had absolute repayment success.

  14. Abdul Sami (unregistered) on January 30th, 2007 @ 2:50 am

    The idea is good, but only for “genuine” beggars. Majority are “Professional Beggars”, who give decent daily amount as a bribery to Police. There was a column in an Urdu paper, columnist offered a beggar some job, which he refused only because the salary was lower than what he gave as a bribery to Police wala.

    Professional begging can only be stopped with the help of law enforcing agencies and refraining from giving anything to them.

    I think Edhi child home can play a good role in stopping children from begging.

  15. SK (unregistered) on January 30th, 2007 @ 3:42 am

    @NEOKA: I agree with you 100 percent. The micro financing setup in Pakistan requires a person to wait for a month or two and usually bank officials ask for bribes. I think it would be better if we could set up a meeting once I arrive in Karachi in the next 4-5 days, and discuss how we could work on this project in an urban settlement. Anyone who wishes to join in is more than welcome. It would be better if we could contact through email. My email address is

    @ Abdul Sami: Edhi is playing a mojor role in stopping children from begging, but even they have some restraints. Moreover, we give people a choice if they want to work for us and have the opportunity to own the company till the investment is completely withdrawn. Like employee stock options, with employees having a share in the business as per their will (P&G philosophy).

  16. Dee (unregistered) on January 30th, 2007 @ 4:44 am

    @Neoka> Birth control, controls the conception not necessarily the spread of HIV/AIDS.For example, * Contraceptive pill* does prevent the conception but it does nothing to prevent HIV/AIDS.

    IMRAN>>>Its a good idea or start.I do agree improved economy is the way to go.China and India have more than billion ppl but they are emerging as superpowers.It doesnt mean we should neglect the population and other social reforms.I will be happy to know more about this initiative.

  17. wasiq (unregistered) on January 30th, 2007 @ 4:50 am

    Avval aakhar aap nu jana From beginning to end, I tried to understand myself
    Na koi dooja hor pacchana I did not come to know of anyone else
    Mai ton na koi hor syana I am not just another wise one

    Bulle shah kharha hai kaun Bulla Shah, who is this standing?
    Bulla ki jaana main kaun Bulla, who knows who I am?
    Bulla ki jaana main kaun Bulla, who knows who I am?
    Bulla ki jaana main kaun Bulla, who knows who I am?
    Bulla ki jaana main kaun Bulla, who knows who I am?

    Na main moosa na pharon Neither I am Moses nor Pharoah

  18. Dee (unregistered) on January 30th, 2007 @ 4:58 am

    Education is the key and if you ask people they will say, yes, we want to send our kids to school but then if they go to school who would feed those kids.4000 Rs and a family of 8 or 10,what choice do these parents and kids have?.

    Okay along the same lines(economic reform), I have read/watched about

    Tiffin wala:This documentary is about how people are running this type of home business in Mumbai(i believe this documentary was made by BBC).

    Papad industry story:An amazing initiative and now almost a billion dollar industry in India which is also home based and mostly run by women).

    I wish i can find the url for above but i am not an expert in finding things on net.So i am depending on my memory.We all know about Dr.Younus initiative so its not hard to find about the mechanics of that project.

  19. Karachiite (unregistered) on January 30th, 2007 @ 7:51 am

    It is very heartening to see some of you guys actively working towards solving the problem, which is far more than, I admit, I’m doing, but the way I see it, this is a problem that can ultimately only be solved by action at the government level rather than by NGO’s.

    The larger forces at play here are:

    1) Countrywide levels of poverty, not just Karachi. We know that Karachi, Lahore and Islamabad have higher levels of income but most of the rest of the country is full of millions of poor people. As long as there’s poverty anywhere, people will move to Karachi etc so no matter how many you take off the streets there’ll be an endless flow of people to replace them.

    2) It is ultimately the govt.’s responsibility to provide decent quality education to EVERY child in the country, a responsibility in which they have failed miserably. The education budget is still only 33% of what is needed and we’re far from 100% enrolment.

    3) The fact of children being abused by adults is an OUTRAGE. Any parent or other who forces a child to beg needs to be in jail. The custody of the child should be taken over by the govt.

    4) Beyond that, any parent who just keeps a child, boy or girl, at home and away from school should be penalized. It should be compulsory to go to school till the age of 16, or Metric.

    Short of govt. level action we’ll only be touching the problem on the surface.

  20. Hamid Hashmi (unregistered) on January 30th, 2007 @ 7:51 am

    That is a great idea please let me know how we can help sitting abroad in Canada.
    We can try and do whatever possible from here, may be start a chain of emails and a website where people can go and donate directly.
    All the best great ideas start just like this,please also let me know which city are we talking about.
    May ALLAH bless you.

  21. Ramla A. (unregistered) on January 30th, 2007 @ 12:04 pm

    @ Dee

    Yup the Tiffin wala documentary ran on the BBC.

    Many such examples will be found on the World Challenge website; anyone can also request multiple CDs from them + brochure.

    In Lahore, Dr. Amjad Saqib is operating an NGO by the name of Akhuwwat (“brotherhood”) on principles of micro-finance + people-to-people help + teach a (wo)man how to fish.

    These initiatives are not the job of the government alone. Contemporary thought is that people should help themselves. The World Challenge, and Akhuwwat, amongst many others, are testimony to the truth of this thought.

    P.S. SK, tell us more, of course. I’m mailing you.

  22. Ramla A. (unregistered) on January 30th, 2007 @ 12:19 pm

    Some thinkers now say that to tie well-being with formal education is not the right approach – it might be downright oppressive. I trekked up to a mountain village last August; which was so remote, that they thought I came from Japan (An old man, in the hope of wedding off his son asked me, “Tum Japani hai?”).

    They treated us with homemade butter, kilos of apples and apricots, and bread. And they treated our sore legs with “tomoro qahva” and local herbs. They had plenty of food and love.

    On the way back, we found some engineers taking measurements for a road.

    I still wonder. If the road is built; they can take their ill to the hospitals faster, and send their children to the school in Gilgit, 100 km away, more safely. But on the downside, someone will walk in, buy their lands, bring down expensive urban merchandise they can’t afford, and finally tell them that they can’t have access to food and animals just because they are too uncultivated.

    Education doesn’t only come from books. To know farming is also education. Why should we think only a certain kind of education – the urban-industrial-capitalist variety – should entitle anyone to food and health? It’s a deep, colorless, odorless, undetectable bias that we must become aware of.

  23. Adnan Siddiqi (unregistered) on January 30th, 2007 @ 11:25 pm

    It’s always great to feel nice that how my fellow pakistanis are willing to help their countrymen. Nobody even know SK but majority is willing to help him. This is great, simply great.

  24. Adnan Siddiqi (unregistered) on January 31st, 2007 @ 12:48 am

    @Dee: Tiffin business is going well in Karachi as well.

    SMEs SMEs SMEs, where are they???

  25. SK (unregistered) on January 31st, 2007 @ 3:04 am

    @Adnan Siddiqui: After all it is our land and we have to work on it, with it, and for it…

    “Come forward as servants of Islam, organise the people economically, socially, educationally and politically and I am sure that you will be a power that will be accepted by everybody.”
    – Quaid-e-Azam Muhammad Ali Jinnah
    Presidential Address at the All India Muslim League, Lahore, March 23, 1940

  26. Adnan Siddiqi (unregistered) on January 31st, 2007 @ 9:56 am

    SK, thanks for mentioning this particular speech of Jinnah. :-)

  27. Abbas Rizvi (unregistered) on February 2nd, 2007 @ 11:44 am

    hey guys even a graduate from the most reputed institute wound’nt get 2000 rupees per day thats a/c to an international survey on begging . one typically gets at busy junctions in karachi . what charm does education or alternate holds for them?

  28. wasiq (unregistered) on February 6th, 2007 @ 4:23 am

    tom pakistani log bhi naa…tom ko allah kay naam pey
    pakistan diya……?
    aga khan diya……?
    bangladesh diya….?
    F-16’s diya……?
    jemima khan diya…?
    nuclear blast diya.?
    MacDonald’s diya…?
    missile test diya..?
    cable tv diya……?
    internet diya……?

    abhi jao signal pey jam na karo kal sonch kay aana aur kya chahiyeah…..


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