Street Children in Pakistan

As we tuck our children in for bed each evening, we can often feel a sense of peace and gratitude – and I am not just talking about the sense of relief that they have gone to sleep without too much protest that night! No – with our children warm and safe in their beds, we know that they are out of harm’s way and somewhere we can protect them.

Sadly, for millions of children around the world, this idyllic part of family life is not something they get to be a part of.Street children have to fend for themselves, often taking dangerous work to survive or scavenging for food in unsafe places. Without the help of charity, the only family they have is often the other the children they find out there. Even children who are fortunate enough to have their parents are pressed into working on the streets, because their families are not able to provide for them.

Child Workers in Pakistan

Staggeringly, there are up to 19 million children in Pakistan who are forced to work, often against their parent’s will. When you do not have enough money to put food on the table, stark choices , have to be made about sending your child to work to contribute to the daily wages earned by the family, or sending them to school. Sometimes children find employment as servants and other domestic workers, but more often than not they are out on the street, begging for money. Alternatively, they may have to scavenge roads and rubbish tips for items that can be re-sold. Children as young as three years old are put into situations where they are vulnerable to accidents, illness and abuse.

One charity, World Vision, has tackled this problem by setting up child drop-in centres. One example of this is the Manzil Drop-in Centre in Pakistan, where children can have some of the lessons they miss out on by not being able to attend school, basic hygiene training, free-play time and counselling. This helps them to deal with the challenges of their everyday life and when possible, gives them a bridge back into learning, to help them return to school.

Escaping Reality in Cambodia

Charities reach out to children in Cambodia, who have often had to survive on the streets with or without their families as soon as they can walk. One thing that strikes the workers who encounter these ‘street kids’ for the first time is the unwavering good nature of the children. They always smile and laugh, showing curiosity and interest when approached – often approaching the workers first. However, beneath the surface there is a shocking truth. When drugs are cheaper than food, the older children often choose drugs instead. Sniffing glue takes hunger pains away and allows them to drift off into sleep more easily. Help comes to them in the form of medical aid, food supplies, reading lessons, hygiene information and training to help them find gainful employment. Without these outreach programmes, the cycle of extreme poverty and drug abuse cannot be broken.

These realities don’t need to be permanent for many of these children. Supporting a charity that helps street children is a way to change what the future holds now.

This is a post from Liz at World Vision UK. If you are interested in sponsoring a child or making a charity donation to one of the projects we are running, please reach out to us.