Indian cricketers bat for orphans in Zimbabwe
Indian cricketers bat for UNICEF-backed orphans project in Zimbabwe
A group of India’s star cricketers went to bat for some of Zimbabwe’s 1.3 million orphans yesterday, listening to the problems faced by the youngsters and visiting an education project supported by the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF).
During a rare half day away from practice, and as part of the team’s tour of Zimbabwe, vice-captain Rahul Dravid, fast bowler Ifran Pathan, off spinner Harbhajan Singh and India’s Ambassador to Zimbabwe met with more than 100 orphans on the outskirts of the capital, Harare.
There the players spoke with the children, and watched as they performed theatre and music aimed at HIV prevention and confidence building, before the players put on a coaching clinic for the youngsters.
“These children are inspiring,” Mr. Dravid said. “I don’t know if they are Zimbabwe’s next test cricketers or not, but certainly given half a chance they can be the country’s next teachers and doctors.”
The players were a huge hit for the orphans at the UNICEF-supported project, after which they accompanied a 14-year-old boy to his one-room home, where he is the head of the household. Both the boy’s parents have died, leaving him to care for his two siblings, seven and five. There are 50,000 such "child headed households" in Zimbabwe and hundreds of thousands across Southern Africa.
More than one in five Zimbabwean children are now orphaned, most of them due to HIV-related deaths. Orphans are typically the first to drop out of school, are more vulnerable to exploitation, have endured the trauma of watching a parent die, and are at great risk of ill-health. They are at the heart of UNICEF’s work in Zimbabwe, where the Fund provides community support to counselling and psychosocial support for 100,000 orphans, as well as education and health projects throughout the country.
The Indian team is well known for its support to UNICEF projects across the cricketing world.