These days, you can rarely walk down a Beirut street without running into a child begging for money, or trying to sell gum at stoplights.
This problem has grown since the Syrian refugee crisis, with poor families flooding in from war-torn villages in Syria. With no work and little hope of a better future, their children are sent out to make a living on the streets.
While most of us love to help, and willingly give to those in need, we realise that when we are giving, we might perhaps be making the problem worse. It is no secret that these children are often exploited by individuals who make a profit off their desperate situation.
In order to combat this problem, Bou Khalil, a Lebanese supermarket chain, has taken the initiative to give an alternative. Through The Good Note, they hope to provide those in need with what they exactly need, and limit exploiters’ opportunities to profit from the children.
According to the website, “Giving money to children on the streets is an act of goodwill. Unfortunately, it doesn’t always go towards good things. In many cases, it goes to the child’s desperate family that has no other way to make ends meet. In many others, it goes straight into the pockets of people profiteering off these children.”
Bou Khalil has designed a new bill, coined The Good Note, which can be given to children and spent in their stores on different items – including medicine when a prescription is provided. Instead of giving money that can be used for anything, good or bad, this note will only be used to buy necessary goods at the store. The notes cannot be used to buy alcohol, tobacco or medicines without prescriptions.
The chain has branches all over Lebanon, in Baabda, Faitroun, Mkalles, Tripoli, Koraytem, Zahle Jbeil, Antelias, Kousba, and Damour. Using these notes, you will be able to truly help these children provide their families with what they need, without worrying about growing an exploitive business on the backs of these kids.
Moreover, Bou Khalil is working with NGOs to educate the children about the notes, in order to ensure they will be able to use them. That way, the notes will be accepted and used efficiently by those in need.
These notes are available for purchase at all the Bou Khalil branches, as well as many other places. They cost 1,000 LBP and are worth exactly 1,000 LBP. This non-profit initiative by the chain promises to breed goodwill and possibly improve the lives of the children on the streets, if only one note at a time.