India Today - - GOOD NEWS -

Along with a col­lege friend, Amol Sawant, 30, Shrungar Raul and Pervez Shaikh be­gan teach­ing foot­ball to street chil­dren from Matunga, in Mumbai, later start­ing An­stren­gung United, an NGO that to­day trains as many as 200 street chil­dren.

When we were in col­lege, there were four street chil­dren who would beg for money out­side our cam­pus. Over time, we be­came friends with them. None of these chil­dren had been to school, and over time we re­alised they were get­ting ad­dicted to drugs. Liv­ing on the streets, there were also the usual street fights and lack of nu­tri­tion and hy­giene. After we fin­ished col­lege and got jobs, we de­cided to do some­thing for them. Sports is a great uni­fy­ing fac­tor and also helps in self-de­vel­op­ment. It teaches dis­ci­pline, team work, health and hy­giene. So, we started An­stren­gung United, which comes from a Ger­man word for ‘ef­fort’—we added ‘United’ be­cause we are all foot­ball fans and it sym­bol­ises team spirit. We found a no-man’s-land kind of space un­der the Matunga fly­over, and started gath­er­ing these four chil­dren there ev­ery evening to play foot­ball. We also taught them other sports, like box­ing, kabaddi and ath­let­ics. They started bring­ing their friends and the num­bers grew. Our next mis­sion was to get them into school. Con­vinc­ing their par­ents was tough; beg­ging was their liveli­hood. But we per­sisted, and they agreed to join the Ma­hatma Phule Ed­u­ca­tion Trust school. We then be­gan a sports training pro­gramme in that school, where we teach these four dif­fer­ent sports. We have ac­com­plished sportsper­sons training the chil­dren, like Dhanan­jay Ma­hadik, for­mer cap­tain of the hockey team and He­len Mary, a hockey coach. Al­though we now have a team of vol­un­teers and trus­tees, fund­ing re­mains a prob­lem—spon­sors are not very forth­com­ing. Last year, we or­gan­ised a 10 km marathon and when the chil­dren went around seek­ing funds, it was tough. We usu­ally chip in with con­tri­bu­tions. Since Raul, who is known as Nanu to the chil­dren, works with Mumbai City FC, we also do­nated jer­seys to the chil­dren.”

“Try to talk not with money but with words; share hap­pi­ness, make it mem­o­rable for your­self.”

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from India

© PressReader. All rights reserved.