Late one afternoon in The Sreepur Village, three girls were at the cricket ground. A crowd of intrigued and inspired children gathered around them, taking in the precise moves of the controlled combat that was taking place. It certainly was unlike any cricket practice they had seen before and they were desperate to learn this mastery for their self. This was when Judo became a popular sport at The Sreepur Village.
Bangladesh Krira Shikkha Protisthan (BKSP) is the apex of sports education institutions in Bangladesh, so as you can imagine it is a great achievement for all those who earn a coveted space there. Not just one of our girls, but three girls from our village were given the opportunity of practicing Judo at BKSP, Lisa, Taslima and Marifa.
Lisa has been with us, at The Sreepur Village, since she was seven years old. Her mother, Putul, joined our community in 2008 with her two children, Lisa and Adam, but sadly in 2011 she died whilst on leave to her village home. Lisa and her brother, Adam, returned with us to The Sreepur Village and have stayed here ever since, as there was no one else to take care of them. Now, Lisa is in eighth grade and a Judoka! She explained that “When mum died, I was helpless along with my little brother. But The Sreepur Village took us in, we felt safe as we had been here before, and this opportunity is what will change my life. I will put my heart and soul in to being a national rank Judoka. I trust! ’’.
You may remember Taslima through her mother’s story, that we told last year. Taslima is 17 years’ old and was at The Sreepur Village for three years. Both Taslima and her mother successfully moved on from The Sreepur Village last December and Taslima is now a Judoka. We spoke with her mother, who said "The Sreepur Village brought an infinite change to our lives. Now, I have a small tailoring business in my home. I make some money. I’m very pleased with Taslima’s new achievement. It was a dream for her to be accepted at BKSP. Now, she will be able to prepare for her future. I know it costs a huge amount but I will try my best to continue her course.’’
“At the beginning, I did not concentrate on the workshop and training but, when I got the chance of a one-month course at BKSP, then I become serious about it and after that, I attended all the courses with great commitment. We left The Sreepur Village last December. Currently, my mother works here (in The Sreepur Village staff dining room). Which provides a good opportunity for me to stay connected with The Sreepur Village. Our uncles (social workers) helped me to learn about and commit myself to a future in Judo. If I were not at The Sreepur Village, I would never have earned a place at the BKSP. I have a dream to be a national icon and to play in the Olympic Games as a representative of Bangladesh’’ says Marfia.
In three phases, they each attended one-month, four-month and seven-day courses. They are all now Judoka of BKSP and The Sreepur Village. They have been a great success for The Sreepur Village; it’s not only a dream of theirs to be national idols or receive higher education and training, but it is also the aim of The Sreepur Village to empower these women and girls in society so they may lead an independent, safe and successful life in their own community.
As The Sreepur Village has protective measures in place to welcome new families during the Covid pandemic, we would like to share with you a story of why these mothers are in desperate need of our shelter, food and care.
Until Monday, we were unable to admit any new families to The Sreepur Village, but as identified cases of the virus are increasing daily, we are now able to safely admit some impoverished families who are in desperate need of shelter, food and care.
As Small Charities and Volunteers’ Week both fall in June, one of our long-standing supporters, Andy Bennett, has kindly offered to share with us her experiences with The Sreepur Village charity from the initial concept in the 1980’s to the current village today, which helps keep together 150 impoverished mothers and their 300 children, empowering families with hope for a brighter future: