As we welcome the Pakistan team to the Street Child World Cup, Azad Foundation’s Programmes Manager Syed Ali Bilgrami speaks about their preparations, and what the team hopes to achieve.
“For years the children living and/or working on the streets of Pakistan have been ignored, denied their existence. There are no statistics available at national or even provincial level. People would call them beggars, homeless, runaways, disadvantaged and juveniles without understanding the reasons they exist, their culture and dynamics. This marginalized group is not recognized as a separate child protection issue and hence there is no strategy at local or national level to address their problems.
“Being a part of SCWC will not only provide an opportunity for the nation to realize/recognize the existence of children on streets but it will also give the people a chance to explore their culture and dynamics. Azad Foundation and its partners are most excited about participating in SCWC because it will bring about our long awaited goal to establish a nationwide platform for advocacy and policy development for children on the streets; as children on the streets across the country will root for Team Pakistan for their voices will be heard. For us it is a stage where the residents of the world’s most untrustworthy environment will work together along with their fellows from different parts of the globe to make the world realize that their futures are as much as important as every other human being.
“Azad Foundation organized a provincial consultation on Sports 4 Development and the Road to Rio back in August 2012. Karachi United Football Foundation and Club, Sports for Life Pakistan, Sindh Sports Department, Pakistan Sports Board, Karachi Local Government Sports Department and UNICEF participated in this consultation. The aforementioned also ensured their support for Team Pakistan’s journey to Rio.
“Active training and life skills sessions with children on the streets of Karachi is underway with support from Karachi United Football Foundation and Club. Weekly training sessions are regularly being held at their training grounds.”
Click here for some photos which give an overview of Azad Foundation’s everyday work with street children.
“I experienced hardcore street life in my youth. I know what it’s like. I congratulate the Street Child World Cup project in it’s commitment to bring attention to the plight of Street Children through the power of football.”
“No child should have to live on the streets and I fully endorse this campaign giving street children a voice to claim their rights”
“When ever people come across me they laugh. It seems like my mouth is zipped because they talk for us. I wish they could give us a chance to talk for ourselves.”