As today marks International Day of the Girl Child, The Sreepur Village would like to share with you the stories of four girls who came to The Sreepur Village charity as vulnerable, insecure, abandoned and abused children, and how through playing cricket, their future dreams could be made a reality.
Earlier in the year, The Sreepur Village Girls Cricket Team played in the First Division Cricket league. Except for the rainy season, the girls cricket team, which is made up of ex girls from The Sreepur Village as well as girls from the local community, practice every Friday.
The Sreepur Village relies on the support of the school’s sports teacher, who mentors the girls when she can. In fact, almost every child of The Sreepur Village is interested in receiving training and playing cricket and sometimes we play matches against the community school team and other times amongst ourselves but without regular funding this is impossible to maintain.
Nadira, a 19-year old girl, was referred to The Sreepur Village when she was just four years old. She was found on the streets homeless and identity-less. Nadira was in grade 5 when The Sreepur Village started the girls cricket team and like the other girls this is when she began to play cricket. Nadira told us “I was playing in the First Division Cricket League for three years, but now I don’t know if next season I will be able to play or not. When I started to play cricket, I dreamt of being a famous female cricketer. I wanted to play for the country, but now unfortunately that dream is quickly disappearing. However, on the other hand I am now receiving training for a job but it’s not the same as following your dreams is it? I’m missing every moment but without financial support, our cricket days are numbered.”
Nipa, aged 20, was left at birth in a clinic and at the age of four she joined The Sreepur Village family. Nipa, now in grade 10, is particularly different from the other girls because she doesn’t just like to play cricket she also likes to manage the team, Nipa said, “When I played cricket and engaged in the activities, at that time I never felt upset, I was always joyful. I also got to meet lots of people. I've learnt a lot about playing cricket and how to manage a team but now, I’m really missing my team and the managerial role.”
Halima, is 17 and one of the youngest players of the team. She came to us at four years old as an abandoned girl, who had got lost in a local village fair. Halima shared with us her story of how she was initially afraid of playing cricket but her coach would often take the team to practice and play on the bigger grounds which really aided their confidence. Halima said, “I made some great friends with the girls coming from the community. They were very kind to me. Many of them were good cricketers and they taught me a lot. Another thing was, all the mothers and children supported us by coming to watch our games and also in the tournament a lot of spectators watched the game. I miss these times - I really miss them because I now love to play in front of lots of people. Now, I want to play more and become a famous female cricketer.”
Ismat, aged 18, is the star cricketer from The Sreepur Village. Her story is different, she was subjected to a life of torture and sexual abuse. Ismat’s mother was mentally ill and unable to care for her so she was placed in an organisation, which referred her to The Sreepur Village when she was 10 years old. The Sreepur Village was successful in making Ismat mentally well and bringing her the normal life that she deserved. She attended a camp for cricket training at Bangladesh’s Krira Shiksha Pratisthan- BKSP, the leading national sports training institute in Bangladesh. Last year, she finished the course and now she is playing for a popular cricket team in the country. Meanwhile, she has played in several countries including, India and Nepal. For recent years, Ismat has been the cricket idol of the Sreepur Village team. Ismat told us, “Jesy, the coach, taught me a lot. Her personality, knowledge and cricket techniques is what inspired me to play. When I play cricket I forget my past and just focus on the joys of cricket.”
These four players of the Sreepur Girls Cricket Team all came to The Sreepur Village full of insecurity and uncertainty but in just a short time with 24/7 care, shelter, food, education, training, and cricket, these four girls were given new hopes, confidence, and the chance to fulfil their dreams. However, without sufficient funding, The Sreepur Village is unable to continue the Girls Cricket Team which means girls like Nadira, Nipa and Halima have to abandon their dreams.
The Sreepur Village believes in empowering women, providing them with equal opportunities so that in the future nothing is impossible. Donating just £60 would kit out one of our girls so that she could be part of a local girl’s cricket team fulfilling her dreams of playing cricket and bringing hope for the future.
Ignorance and wrong beliefs surrounding disability, compounded with a negative and derogatory attitude of the community (including family members) have contributed to the marginal development in the disability sector in Bangladesh.