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Children from Butterflies NGO meet cricketing heroes at the Feroz Shah Kotla

422   //    19 Feb 2016, 13:58 IST
The Butterflies children with Yuvraj Singh and Pawan Negi 

In a build-up event to the upcoming ICC World T20 in India, the International Cricket Council (ICC) Cricket for Good and UNICEF in partnership with BCCI launched the Team Swachh clinics during the ICC WT20 Host City Tour. This is to promote a nationwide initiative that aims to build a social movement for sanitation and toilet use thereby leading to an open-defecation-free India.

The event saw a specially designed double-decker bus carry the children from local NGO Butterflies India along with cricketing stars Yuvraj Singh and Pawan Negi. The duo played cricket-based games with the children along with advocating the use of toilets. They engaged with the children while also sharing cricketing tips and discussing the importance of hygiene and sanitation in the specially designed Team Swachh WASH clinic set up inside the stadium.

Butterflies is an award-winning registered voluntary organisation working with the most vulnerable groups of children, especially street and working children since 1989. The organisation endeavours to educate and impart life skills to vulnerable children so that they become self-reliant. Over the years, it has initiated a number of innovative interventions in the field and partnered with various government and non-government agencies to garner support for children.  

Yuvi and the children hitting germs for a six!

The children who were part of the event come from extremely poor backgrounds and live in the Nizamuddin Area in the city. They are mostly from Muslim families living in one-room houses with virtually no water and sanitation facilities. Most families have 5-6 children, who are sent to madrassas for their education and the girls are usually married off early in their teens.

Intervention by Butterflies has been able to make a significant difference by sensitizing parents and encouraging them to get their children enrolled in regular formal schools and also preventing child marriage. Additionally, the children and their families have started following healthy sanitation and hygeine practices, and have also begun to demand the same from their school authorities.

Some children have also become Child Health Educators, such as 15-year old Mariam Zareen, who studies in Class 10 at the Kamla Nehru Sarvodaya Kanya Vidyalaya in the Jungpura locality. Apart from encouraging people to take up standard hygiene practices such as washing hands and using toilets to defecate, she also conducts seminars and teaches the basics of first aid to other slum-dwellers.

She spoke to us at Sportskeeda about how she strives everyday to secure a cleaner and healthier environment at home and school, and how she has raised the issue of sanitation and clean toilets at her school. When asked about how it felt to play cricket with Yuvraj Singh and Pawan Negi, she said, “I am very happy that I got to play with Yuvi and Negi. They clicked selfies with us and talked to us in the bus about cricket and also about the importance of keeping one’s surroundings clean. I am sure all children got to learn from this experience.”

At such a young age, girls like Mariam have been able to positively affect the lives of their near and dear ones tremendously. Butterflies are doing a commendable job for so many years now and experiences like these will only help inspire these kids to contribute more and secure a bright future for themselves and their families! 

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