Beirut’s Streets: A Playground for Children Beggars

By Diana Nemeh, Special to Ya Libnan

A young girl asks for money from a driver in Beirut
Drive down any congested street in Beirut on any given day in any given weather and you will see children running around. Not the type of running around that all children should be doing in playgrounds, but rather the running around in between cars struggling and forced to make a living. Children so young they can barely reach the windows of some cars. Children with dirty hands and faces, dressed in mismatched and tattered clothing, and sometimes even barefoot. With trained eyes, they run from car to car weeding out the ones that are most likely to slide out a 1,000LL through the window crack. Cars with foreign license plates, pricey looking vehicles with tinted windows or women drivers, who perhaps are known to be a bit more compassionate, are among the common targets of these children.

Coming from outside of Lebanon and seeing the images of these desperate yet fearless children begging in the streets is heartbreaking. However, after spending enough time here, you come to realize that these children might be part of a begging network and because of this you begin to dismiss them by avoiding eye contact in hopes they will stop tapping at your car window until that light turns green. At this point, these children have become part of the cluttered ‘décor’ that makes up the streets of Lebanon.

Drivers have adapted to these images and occurrences, therefore, so has the government but ignoring this issue will not make it go away, it has only contributed to the ever-growing social problems here. We must ask ourselves what chance at a future does a child have when he starts his life in the lap of his beggar mother who is using him as a ploy to incite sympathy from passer-bys? What role will this child play in our society when he becomes an adult after being programmed his whole life to lie, manipulate, beg and steal to survive? We will find out the hard way when it is no longer suitable to ignore.

It is estimated that there are over 100,000 child workers in Lebanon, approximately 20% are Lebanese and the rest are of foreign or mixed origin. Every one of these children should be in school learning how to read instead of in the streets learning how to beg. No child should be exposed to life on the streets with the risk falling into the wrong hands and something must be done about it.

Most of us have evolved into realizing that counting on the government to do something will get us nowhere. The Ministry of Interior will not intervene without a complaint filed on behalf of the child’s parents, disregarding the fact that in most cases it is the child’s parent(s) that put them these situations.

However, there are a number of other solutions for this problem such as NGOs, adoption and schooling; yet, they receive little or no support. The NGOs that have been authorized to deal with these children lack funding but if they were able to secure the proper funding, these children would have a place to sleep at night, not based on the condition of whether they brought back enough money for the day. These children will also have the chance to feel protected and to develop properly; necessities their parents are unable to provide. In some cases, these kids are orphans and because the adoption process in Lebanon is complex, they may always remain orphans for the rest of their unfortunate lives. Since only Christian institutions in Lebanon recognize adoptions as a legal convention, it limits the possibility to provide a loving home for a child and vice versa. Finally, there should be legal enforcement of mandatory schooling regardless of background, social class or income. Schools teach a child discipline and encourage them to be positive contribution to society rather than a delinquent.

If we focus on these solutions rather than avoiding the problems, every child could have a chance at a normal childhood, something they are entitled too. However, if we continue to pretend these children do not exist or think there is nothing we can do about it, we will end up paying for the consequences tomorrow because we have not addressed this issue today.

  • All over the world our children are abandoned. The future generations hopeless, abandoned, alone and victim to being thrown away, used and abused. Just as Jesus said, forgive them for they know not what they do! God forgive them and please forgive us for not doing more to make a change for these children.

  • All over the world our children are abandoned. The future generations hopeless, abandoned, alone and victim to being thrown away, used and abused. Just as Jesus said, forgive them for they know not what they do! God forgive them and please forgive us for not doing more to make a change for these children.

  • All over the world our children are abandoned. The future generations hopeless, abandoned, alone and victim to being thrown away, used and abused. Just as Jesus said, forgive them for they know not what they do! God forgive them and please forgive us for not doing more to make a change for these children.

  • oddchild

    The large part of the problem is the lack of solutions. Most folks just drive by spit, or swear, or even physically assault these kids rather than provide any alternative for them. These kids need help and real options.

    The police just arrest the children. Often times they are beat. Then they are released back onto the streets. The problem is that the parents were street kids themselves and do not have any way to make enough money to provide for their families.

    There are a lot of horrible abusive families, but there are also a lot of one that simply do not have a choice.

    Many of these kids (Turkmen) end up getting married as early as 13! I know one family where the son is 14 and divorced and is about to remarry.

    Jesus commanded us to love our neighbors as ourselves. If you see some of these kids, do something. Teach them something, teach them how to cook. Teach them how to fix a car. Give them a banana, do something.

  • Anonymous

    The large part of the problem is the lack of solutions. Most folks just drive by spit, or swear, or even physically assault these kids rather than provide any alternative for them. These kids need help and real options.

    The police just arrest the children. Often times they are beat. Then they are released back onto the streets. The problem is that the parents were street kids themselves and do not have any way to make enough money to provide for their families.

    There are a lot of horrible abusive families, but there are also a lot of one that simply do not have a choice.

    Many of these kids (Turkmen) end up getting married as early as 13! I know one family where the son is 14 and divorced and is about to remarry.

    Jesus commanded us to love our neighbors as ourselves. If you see some of these kids, do something. Teach them something, teach them how to cook. Teach them how to fix a car. Give them a banana, do something.

  • Everytime I am in Lebanon my heart aches for these poor children…..the country is blind and the problem keeps growing.

  • Everytime I am in Lebanon my heart aches for these poor children…..the country is blind and the problem keeps growing.

  • ohliban75

    That’s what happened when certain groups in 3rd World Countries Breed Like Rabbits and then they claime they are the majority.
    Then their city streets become children’s beggars playground ,”a perfect environment and suitable age to raise and groom terrorists,”no offence to anyone.
    Unenvitably and most likely The children will ultimately pay the biggest price at the end of the day.
    So long Lebanon,what a way to raise children in a tiny country!

  • Anonymous

    That’s what happened when certain groups in 3rd World Countries Breed Like Rabbits and then they claime they are the majority.
    Then their city streets become children’s beggars playground ,”a perfect environment and suitable age to raise and groom terrorists,”no offence to anyone.
    Unenvitably and most likely The children will ultimately pay the biggest price at the end of the day.
    So long Lebanon,what a way to raise children in a tiny country!

  • “What role will this child play in our society when he becomes an adult
    after being programmed his whole life to lie, manipulate, beg and steal
    to survive?” They’ll become Lebanese politicians!

  • “What role will this child play in our society when he becomes an adult
    after being programmed his whole life to lie, manipulate, beg and steal
    to survive?” They’ll become Lebanese politicians!

  • “What role will this child play in our society when he becomes an adult
    after being programmed his whole life to lie, manipulate, beg and steal
    to survive?” They’ll become Lebanese politicians!

  • The Electric Playground is a daily news television show on the cable TV network G4 that covers movies, TV shows, comic books, collectibles and gadgets. Created and executive produced by host Victor Lucas, and his Vancouver, British Columbia production company Greedy Productions Ltd, The Electric Playground has been a staple on airwaves since its debut in September 1997.

    • 5thDrawer

      ‘Greedy Productions Ltd.’??
      Sounds like something from the Lebanese Cabinet …. 

  • The Electric Playground is a daily news television show on the cable TV network G4 that covers movies, TV shows, comic books, collectibles and gadgets. Created and executive produced by host Victor Lucas, and his Vancouver, British Columbia production company Greedy Productions Ltd, The Electric Playground has been a staple on airwaves since its debut in September 1997.

    • Anonymous

      ‘Greedy Productions Ltd.’??
      Sounds like something from the Lebanese Cabinet …. 

  • nagy_michael2

    Unfortunately lots of these children are part of network of some sort. I remember getting frustrated wherever i turned into different Tripoli streets they kept approaching me very aggressively. I finally said to one i can’t give everyone for God’s sake. she begged me to give her at least 1000 pounds and i said where are your parents. She said my mom is died and my father married to a bitch who she orders me around to beg otherwise she beats me. on top of it until she brings enough money then she could not eat. I handed 5000 pounds but walking away disgusted with our whole system. Here we have billionaires like Miqati and Safadi, Ahdab, Hariri who comes or lives in Tripoli and they talk about improving Lebanon all the times. But yet they can’t manage to clean the streets they drive on every day. I am sure that happens in many areas in Lebanon be it Christians or Muslims area. I have left Lebanon over 35 yrs and I am still hearing about water and electricity problems. something that will never change and never will. We need an Arab Spring in Lebanon and I am just surprised that the people are not fed up yet. but they’re good about fighting each other on behalf on the half-men so called leaders instead of fighting their own leaders for corruption and lack of actions on their part to enhance the daily living of the people around them. Time to rise and time to live in diginity and respect.

  • Anonymous

    Unfortunately lots of these children are part of network of some sort. I remember getting frustrated wherever i turned into different Tripoli streets they kept approaching me very aggressively. I finally said to one i can’t give everyone for God’s sake. she begged me to give her at least 1000 pounds and i said where are your parents. She said my mom is died and my father married to a bitch who she orders me around to beg otherwise she beats me. on top of it until she brings enough money then she could not eat. I handed 5000 pounds but walking away disgusted with our whole system. Here we have billionaires like Miqati and Safadi, Ahdab, Hariri who comes or lives in Tripoli and they talk about improving Lebanon all the times. But yet they can’t manage to clean the streets they drive on every day. I am sure that happens in many areas in Lebanon be it Christians or Muslims area. I have left Lebanon over 35 yrs and I am still hearing about water and electricity problems. something that will never change and never will. We need an Arab Spring in Lebanon and I am just surprised that the people are not fed up yet. but they’re good about fighting each other on behalf on the half-men so called leaders instead of fighting their own leaders for corruption and lack of actions on their part to enhance the daily living of the people around them. Time to rise and time to live in diginity and respect.

  • 5thDrawer

    I am in Tripoli with a group of friends of various ages and backgrounds. We decide to rent a ‘tour boat’ for a run to outer islands on a lovely day – and pick one with a father/son team happy to see customers … perhaps the first in weeks.

    Ten minutes into the ride, with the 12 yr-old son steering, the captain closes in on one of the loveliest ladies in our group.
    “Are you married?”, he asks.
    “No”, she replies.
    “Are you a Muslim?”
    “NO!” she replies emphatically.
    He frowns. There is a brief pause. “Hmmm … You could become one!” he blurts out with renewed smile.
    She is a little happy she has friends around her now … and one of the guys in our group says “What are you after?” to the boat-man.
      And it is thus that we all listen, as he relates the fact he has 10 children by a first wife, and she cannot have any more. He needs a second wife.
    And, then with a big smile, he looks again at our lady-friend and says; “I would make you happy.”

      His genuine seriousness and openness in this venture he proposes – to a woman half his age and never met before – is basically what prevents any of us from laughing at him outright. Indeed, It is rather sad in a way, and the lady simply states her desire not to be married or having children for several years, if ever, and she ends it with a curt; “No way”.
    The captain seems not too unhappy. I guess he feels he gave it a ‘good shot’.
    The boat ride is still a good thing, we enjoy it, and the son is very happy to show me the ‘wonderful motor’ in the cramped hold under-deck, and the space he sleeps in beside it. He is proud of all we survey as I take some pictures.

    I don’t ask where the other 9 kids are, or what they are doing.
    The man has seen better times of income with his boat … possibly … but probably not much better.
      The HUGELY sad part is that he thinks having kids is better than feeding or educating them; that he assumes a woman should jump to be a second wife and thus another baby-factory For Him, and even readily change religions for it;  that this production of babies is a serious enough ‘need’ in his life that virtually everything of a ‘social order’ can be bypassed to attain this goal.

      And maybe he can love them all.
        I would not assume it was one of his babies which was dropped, at perhaps 4 months of age, beside the dumpster near the Orphanage … thankfully found by one of the workers there and taken in … to be cared for until whatever age limit they have had to set. Perhaps the orphans do better up ’till that moment, than the boat-man’s family.

    Has anyone taken a ‘census’ of street-kids in all of Lebanon?
    I think you would find another country.

  • Anonymous

    I am in Tripoli with a group of friends of various ages and backgrounds. We decide to rent a ‘tour boat’ for a run to outer islands on a lovely day – and pick one with a father/son team happy to see customers … perhaps the first in weeks.

    Ten minutes into the ride, with the 12 yr-old son steering, the captain closes in on one of the loveliest ladies in our group.
    “Are you married?”, he asks.
    “No”, she replies.
    “Are you a Muslim?”
    “NO!” she replies emphatically.
    He frowns. There is a brief pause. “Hmmm … You could become one!” he blurts out with renewed smile.
    She is a little happy she has friends around her now … and one of the guys in our group says “What are you after?” to the boat-man.
      And it is thus that we all listen, as he relates the fact he has 10 children by a first wife, and she cannot have any more. He needs a second wife.
    And, then with a big smile, he looks again at our lady-friend and says; “I would make you happy.”

      His genuine seriousness and openness in this venture he proposes – to a woman half his age and never met before – is basically what prevents any of us from laughing at him outright. Indeed, It is rather sad in a way, and the lady simply states her desire not to be married or having children for several years, if ever, and she ends it with a curt; “No way”.
    The captain seems not too unhappy. I guess he feels he gave it a ‘good shot’.
    The boat ride is still a good thing, we enjoy it, and the son is very happy to show me the ‘wonderful motor’ in the cramped hold, and the space he sleeps in beside it. He is proud of all we survey as I take some pictures.

    I don’t ask where the other 9 kids are, or what they are doing.
    The man has seen better times of income with his boat … possibly … but probably not much better.
      The HUGELY sad part is that he thinks having kids is better than feeding or educating them; that he assumes a woman should jump to be a second wife and thus another baby-factory For Him, and even readily change religions for it;  that this production of babies is a serious enough ‘need’ in his life that virtually everything of a ‘social order’ can be bypassed to attain this goal.

      And maybe he can love them all.
        I would not assume it was one of his babies which was dropped, at perhaps 4 months of age, beside the dumpster near the Orphanage … thankfully found by one of the workers there and taken in … to be cared for until whatever age limit they have had to set. Perhaps the orphans do better up ’till that moment, than the boat-man’s family.

    Has anyone taken a ‘census’ of street-kids in all of Lebanon?
    I think you would find another country.

  • Astley Abbotts is a village and civil parish in Shropshire, England. According to the 2001 census the parish had a population of 396.

    It is famous for its lavender fields in the centre of the village near the church.

    Astley Abbotts is a pleasant parish immediately north of Bridgnorth, straddling the B4373 Bridgnorth to Broseley road.

    • OUTRAGE,OUTRAGE, THAT SPAM LIKE THIS SHOWS UP ALL THE TIME AND YALIBNAN DOES NOT REMOVE IT YET PROPHET  A LONG TIME FRIEND TO THIS FORUM IS BANED FROM BEING ABLE TO COMMENT WITHOUT WRONG DOING  ON HIS PART WHATSOEVER

      ALL FELLOW BLOGGERS PLEASE BE AWARE AND LET YALIBNAN KNOW THAT THEIR POSITION OF IMPEDING FREEDOM OF SPEECH IS NOT ACCEPTABLE AND WILL NOT BE IGNORED.

      WETHER YOU AGREE WITH PROPHETS VIEWS OR NOT IS NOT RELAVENT , HIM AND I DONT ALLWAYS AGREE .
      THE CORE OF THE ISSUE IS THEIR STYLE OF SMOTHERING HIS VOICE ON THIS FORUM IS OF THE SORT YOU WOULD SEE IN SYRIA AND IRAN AND  SOULD NOT BE REFLECTED IN  A LEBANESE BASED VENUE.

    • OUTRAGE,OUTRAGE, THAT SPAM LIKE THIS SHOWS UP ALL THE TIME AND YALIBNAN DOES NOT REMOVE IT YET PROPHET  A LONG TIME FRIEND TO THIS FORUM IS BANED FROM BEING ABLE TO COMMENT WITHOUT WRONG DOING  ON HIS PART WHATSOEVER

      ALL FELLOW BLOGGERS PLEASE BE AWARE AND LET YALIBNAN KNOW THAT THEIR POSITION OF IMPEDING FREEDOM OF SPEECH IS NOT ACCEPTABLE AND WILL NOT BE IGNORED.

      WETHER YOU AGREE WITH PROPHETS VIEWS OR NOT IS NOT RELAVENT , HIM AND I DONT ALLWAYS AGREE .
      THE CORE OF THE ISSUE IS THEIR STYLE OF SMOTHERING HIS VOICE ON THIS FORUM IS OF THE SORT YOU WOULD SEE IN SYRIA AND IRAN AND  SOULD NOT BE REFLECTED IN  A LEBANESE BASED VENUE.

  • Anonymous

    Astley Abbotts is a village and civil parish in Shropshire, England. According to the 2001 census the parish had a population of 396.

    It is famous for its lavender fields in the centre of the village near the church.

    Astley Abbotts is a pleasant parish immediately north of Bridgnorth, straddling the B4373 Bridgnorth to Broseley road.

    • OUTRAGE,OUTRAGE, THAT SPAM LIKE THIS SHOWS UP ALL THE TIME AND YALIBNAN DOES NOT REMOVE IT YET PROPHET  A LONG TIME FRIEND TO THIS FORUM IS BANED FROM BEING ABLE TO COMMENT WITHOUT WRONG DOING  ON HIS PART WHATSOEVER

      ALL FELLOW BLOGGERS PLEASE BE AWARE AND LET YALIBNAN KNOW THAT THEIR POSITION OF IMPEDING FREEDOM OF SPEECH IS NOT ACCEPTABLE AND WILL NOT BE IGNORED.

      WETHER YOU AGREE WITH PROPHETS VIEWS OR NOT IS NOT RELAVENT , HIM AND I DONT ALLWAYS AGREE .
      THE CORE OF THE ISSUE IS THEIR STYLE OF SMOTHERING HIS VOICE ON THIS FORUM IS OF THE SORT YOU WOULD SEE IN SYRIA AND IRAN AND  SOULD NOT BE REFLECTED IN  A LEBANESE BASED VENUE.