jdBASKETBALL INDIA Blog: Kashmir, 14/6/07
Kashmir, India Chinar + jdBASKETBALL ‘Hoops for Health’
June 14, 2007
Months of anticipation enhanced already infectious enthusiasm as we initiated Hoops for Health on June 26th.
Our effort marks the inception of a three-year program designed to aid the pscho-rehabilitaition of war-torn orphaned youth. We begin our program at Chinar (www.chinar.org), an orphanage in Srinigar, Kashmir, India.
As I came off the plane I was struck by the breathtaking Kashmir landscape and Himalayan Mountain backdrop coupled with uniformed and armed military presence in the forefront. Our mission, which until that point had been only an idea, became very real to me.
Walking thru the orphanage to meet the children for the first time, I saw the shoes (20 pairs stacked neatly), the bunk beds, the little reading desks, and real family photos on the wall, relics of a complex past. I noticed the live-in housemothers dressed in their colorful parda caring for the children with great concern and devotion. The CHINAR kids are a special group with one touching story after another, such as the seven year-old girl whose entire family died in an earthquake after which she survived for three days, alone in the snow; the two brothers whose blind grandmother could no longer care for them, and on and on. The t-shirts and basketballs we gifted were greatly appreciated by the kids and a nice token, yet I know they deserve and need much more.
Our training ground at the Burn Hall School was located, coincidentally, just a stones throw away from United Nations India / Pakistan War relief building.
Surveying the court, we realized the basket was too high for the children to reach and that we needed a lower goal. Immediately, the ever helpful Athletic Director at Burn Hill said they would build one. Knowing that we had less than 24 hours before starting, I bet my assistant coach (and former Indian National Team Captain) JAI that it would never get done.
I had to pay up! Upon arrival the following afternoon, we were happy to see that a goal was welded on the back of the basketball pole about 6 feet high. It was perfect for the six 9 year-old Chinar kids!
We started the clinic by pointing out the various lines of the court and teaching the kids how to dribble and shoot. Excitedly they giggled, they ran, they listened, they attempted to dribble in a straight line, they tried to shoot on the too high to reach goal, they tried to kick the ball, and to run for snacks. They began to learn fundamental basketball!
Although music was discontinued out of respect for the afternoon prayer session at the neighboring mosque, we kept dribbling, laughing, playing, and learning.
We love jdbasketball! in broken Kashmiry English was the kids present to the coaches before the start of the second session. It was a touching moment, one I know I would never experience in an office in downtown Manhattan somewhere.
JAI said he noticed that they were holding their heads up, smiling more, and showing more self-confidence.
Day 2 was actually a major improvement as the kids became little more calm and focused. We were joined by some older youth from an onsite NGO. The listening improved and dribbling was better. We even began to play some competitive games.
The long journey came to an end with a spectacular trophy ceremony. It suddenly became apparent to me that on the other side of the planet David Stern was welcoming Greg Oden to the podium for the first pick in the NBA draft. For a second I began to wonder what exactly I was doing in this picture. But, by the looks on the CHINAR kids faces, in that moment I could see they all felt like lottery picks, and that, at least for today, we had brought them that feeling.
Mission accomplished, but it’s just a start!
We are now looking to raise money to hire a part-time coach to work with the kids. Ultimately we would like to see a CHINAR basketball team to play in neighborhood games. We estimate it will cost $300 (USd) per month& if anyone is interested to donate please email Fozia directly and mention that it’s for CHINAR Basketball Coach Fund firstname.lastname@example.org
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Special thanks to : CHINAR Board Members, Shireen Qadri, Ifran Shahmiri and Fozia Qazi house mothers Silshada, Shahzada, Igbal, Mustifa, Sayoni from Scholastic Books (Delhi) who have offered to build a library for the house! Richard Epstein, of New York, NY for his generous donation of basketball books and videos. My sidekick Coach, Jay Menon and the Burn Hall school and staff and the CHINAR KIDS! Please remember in thoughts and prayers. Javid, Mohmad, Growhar, Tahir, Arif, Nazir, Fahir, Sajad, Muneeb, Imtiyaz, Nayeem, Mudasir, Saleem, Zubida, Norjhan, Rubeena, Ishrat, Bisma, Jabeen, Nusrat