Lettuce Bee Kids, a registered trust since 2012 is a self-sustainable, entrepreneurial solution that has a mandate to reintegrate street children into society and equip them with the skill set they need, in order to embrace confidence and a brighter future. This carefully researched ‘support system’ involves the local community in the upbringing of these children, generate internal revenues and help these children establish ties with the society as a whole.
Their aim is to bridge the gap between street-children and quality education by employing both formal and informal modes, especially through blended learning, digital literacy and character building. The process hinges upon five guiding principles of life, which not only provide social inclusion and self-actualization to these children but also generate internal revenues for the LBK ecosystem to be self-sufficient:
- Arts and Crafts | the more you draw, the more you draw [Lettuce Bee Artists]
- Relationship with Nature | the more you grow the more you grow [Lettuce Bee Farmers]
- Importance of Music | the more you play, the more you play [Lettuce Bee Musicians]
- Respect of Elders | Adopt a grandparent [Lettuce Bee Yours]
- Formal Education | Digital Literacy – Blended Learning [Lettuce Bee Literate]
The long-term aim is to establish human-ties that are inviolable by culture, status or religion.
Led by a young, dynamic team – LBK pre-piloted this program in 2011 with a group of 70+ children and witnessed tremendous results. Following art therapy sessions, Lettuce Bee Artists has converted the children’s art-work and launched a series of heartfelt products; stationery products, greeting cards line, note books, USB drives and other life-style/textile products like lamps and cushions, the revenue from which was used to fund further activities.
Bahria University has been offering them their computer labs since 2012, where they started Lettuce Bee Kids Literate Program and the kids received basic education, grooming and skills with the help of Bahria University students since the past five years. So far, total six successful literacy programs have been held at Bahria University Islamabad by utilizing their labs and basic facilities for the grooming of these children.
Establishment of Lettuce Bee Kids Centre
After three years of working out of temporary locations and borrowed spaces, LBK acquired space and established a Centre in 2015 in F-11 which holds the following basic facilities:
- A Vegetable Garden and Community Kitchen
- Bathing Facility
- Out-of-School Learning Facility
- Art Studio
- Music Studio
- Mother’s Design Studio | Samaan
The biggest challenge was to keep the children’s income stream running, as most of them either begged or picked trash every day. To cater to this need, their mothers were involved in an economic-empowerment and capacity building initiative called ‘Samaan’ where they stitched discarded fabric to be converted into furniture upholstery line called ‘second life’ and used safety pins to create necklaces. The concept was to utilize the existing skills of these children and their families by involving them in activities such as stitching, upholstery making and jewellery making and then generate revenues by exhibiting their products in different exhibitions held at the Art Council, U.S Embassy, and Pak China Centre.
Literate Programs Analysis
A total number of about 200 children have been impacted from 6 literacy programs held at Bahria University till date by this project.