At Kidasha, we are committed to providing a wide range of support to Nepal’s most vulnerable children, keeping them safe from abuse and exploitation and helping their education and wellbeing to flourish.
We have recently been piloting a new initiative ‘Breaking Boundaries’ which is designed to use the power of sport (in this case cricket) to support children’s holistic development. The initiative is based on a belief in the power of sport to improve children’s physical and mental wellbeing, preventing them from engaging in any high risk activities (eg substance abuse) during their free time and reducing their exposure to harm outside their homes.
With Monday of this week marking the International Day of the Girl Child, it’s particularly important to reflect on the power of sport in helping Pokhara’s vulnerable young girls. Below are the stories of two girls, Sunita and Basanti, who have been supported by our Breaking Boundaries programme. We believe they showcase exactly why this type of support is so vital:
Sunita is 15 years old and lives with her family in a Pokhara slum. Her father is an alcoholic and her mother sells fruits and vegetables on the roadside. Being from such a poor family, Sunita’s education and that of her older sister and younger brother have been supported by a local NGO.
While having an interest in sport, Sunita’s family situation had always prevented any involvement, so when the opportunity arose via her school to participate in Breaking Boundaries, with a little persuasion from her friends, she signed up to join despite having little understanding of cricket.
Despite some opposition from her family, Sunita started to regularly attend coaching sessions, rapidly learning the game and almost immediately demonstrating some real natural talent, most notably as a left-arm unorthodox spin bowler. After a successful trial, she was recently selected to play for the Kaski district team.
Before playing cricket, Sunita was quite shy, struggled with her studies and lived in the shadow of her much more accomplished siblings, but her progress in her new sport has significantly increased her confidence and made her family very proud. Sunita’s challenge is balancing her studies and domestic work whilst continuing to improve her cricket skills. Whilst she is concerned about the cost of cricket equipment, she hopes the project resources will be available until she is good enough to get sponsorship, as she dreams of one day playing for Nepal.
Basanti is 14 years old, studying in grade 8 at school and lives in one of the slum areas of Pokhara. Her father is an alcoholic and casual labourer and her mother runs a small shop. Being an only child, her parents want her to focus on her studies rather than play sport, so at the start of the project they were not positive about her playing cricket and worried that she might hurt herself. Having reassured them about all the kit provided to ensure her safety, they reluctantly gave her permission to play.
Whilst she had an interest in sport, Basanti didn’t understand the rules of cricket but learned quickly through the coaching sessions. One day she ripped her shoe and her parents, being unable to afford to immediately replace them, asked her to stop playing. However, during lockdown when schools were closed and coaching was on hold, she was contacted by her teacher to go for a trial with the Kaski ladies team.
Although she wasn’t selected for the team, being invited for a trial made her and her parents very proud and they are now actively encouraging her to play. Basanti’s aim is to improve both her batting and bowling skills to become an all-rounded player and ultimately gain selection to both the district and the province teams.
Despite frequent interruptions and delays to planned activities due to COVID related restrictions, over the last year we have been facilitating cricket coaching sessions across 15 government schools, in Pokhara (Nepal’s second largest city) with a total of 457 children, including 209 girls, regularly participating in the programme.
The project has deliberately targeted schools with a large proportion of children from local slum communities, such that the majority of participants had previously had little or no opportunity to participate in sports. Early feedback from the project has been very positive with some children already being identified as having the natural ability and potential to pursue a professional career as a coach or as players in district sports leagues
Sunita and Basanti are just two of the hundreds of children we support through our Breaking Boundaries initiative; our team goes above and beyond to ensure that each and every child feels inspired to reach their potential. With your support, we can continue coaching the children within this programme, keeping them out of street-related danger and protecting their physical and mental wellbeing.