Playing for change

September 13, 2015

My aim when starting the "Khel For Change" campaign was to unite people through sports and for sports

Playing for change

With my O’ level examinations out of the way, I finally felt like I had some time to myself again.

The days began feeling as if they actually had 24 hours in them and I had more time on my hands in one day that I had in the entire previous year.

I was determined not to waste it and instead use this free time to make a difference to my community.

I enrolled myself into an internship programme for the BPW School, located in Azam Town. My car scraped through the tight pathways of Azam Town as I landed in front of the distressed school gates.

I had mentally prepared myself to come face-to-face with a small building, crammed with children seated on ageing furniture. However, I was taken aback when I saw what I did.

The school’s principal had anticipated our arrival -- I was accompanied by my teammates, Mustafa Imam, Aliya Mirza, Myza Kehar and Fatima Sohail.

We were given a tour of the building and I was amazed by the level of pride in the place.

The walls were spotless, the classrooms were well built, and the school was equipped with all the basic facilities that you could imagine a small school to have. We were then designated our roles as we organised the school library, taught the children basic level English and helped them decorate the school for the 14th of August.

The children enthusiastically awaited our arrival everyday and the passion they had for learning motivated us to continue teaching them. We were, however, faced with a grave problem. Due to load shedding, the school would not have electricity between 8 and 10 am everyday.

The school that was bustling with life would be transformed into a dark and desolate environment, which was not conducive to learning, let alone enjoying the learning.

This was June when Karachi suffered the terrible heat wave and the blazing heat would not permit us to do our job to our best possible capacity.

Due to insufficient funding the school could not afford to buy a new generator and at 8am everyday the building plunged into darkness. We were determined to solve this problem and at last I suggested that we host a charity volleyball tournament to raise funds for a new generator. We were faced by the daunting task to raise a hundred thousand rupees.

Sports became a beacon of hope. Through a charity volleyball tournament we could transform the lives of 400 children, and help bring some light in their lives. We began enrolling the teams. Our target of 16 teams was swiftly met and next we focused on arranging the venue. The International School graciously extended its help, giving us its premises to host the tournament.

We set up tables displaying a wide variety of snacks, from chips, cookies and pizzas to pastries. Chilled drinks were also sold to replenish the players and so we were able to raise more money by selling these goods at a higher cost that what they were purchased for.

The tournament was underway on the 28 of August and we were able to complete the group stages. We vigorously advertised the tournament on social media and encouraged our friends as well as others to come and watch the games. Spectators were ticketed a small sum of Rs250 to boost our charity drive and I’m happy to say that no one complained. The people too had a rollicking time as they enjoyed each other’s company besides watching highly competitive volleyball.

The final was an eagerly awaited one between the two teams competing from the Karachi American School. They outclassed their opponents as they were prepared to battle it out in the finals. Eventually after a fierce competition, taking the match to the third set, the KAS team, under the captaincy of Turhan James, emerged victorious. The KAS team did not just win the tournament but they won our hearts too. Both the finalists refused to claim the prize money and donated it towards our cause.

My aim when starting the "Khel For Change" campaign was to unite people through sports and for sports as a whole to benefit the community. So this admirable act by the KAS team simply goes to show the power of sports.

With meticulous planning and with the help of other people, the Khel For Change Volleyball Tournament resulted in us raising one hundred and twenty five thousand rupees to be used to buy a new generator for the school as well as help in other small areas of the school.

The smiles on the children’s faces were well worth all the effort we made!

Playing for change