"C4C aims to develop innovative programmes that have a long-term impact. With this in mind we set up initiatives that encourage young people to pass on the skills they've learned to others."
Beth Evans, Cricket for Change Development Officer and Peer Leader Co-ordinator, writes about the recent life changing development trip to Bangladesh.
I (Beth Evans), along with four other Cricket for Change (C4C) staff and England Women’s Cricketer Ebony Rainford-Brent, travelled to Bangladesh on Sunday 3rd October 2010 to run the ICC “Great Spirit” Young Cricket Leader Programme in partnership with UNICEF and the Bangladesh Cricket Board. This programme was aimed at young women in order to empower females. Ebony Rainford-Brent and I led the course that trained 24 young Bangladeshis to become young leaders.
The young leaders that we worked with were from the whole of Bangladesh and at first many were shy and not confident in themselves. Through the youth-work games and team building exercises we used, these young people grew in themselves so much. A few of the group did not even speak Bengali; which to begin with proved hard but with the help of the rest of the group and clear animated instructions we were able to communicate with everyone.
On Wednesday 6th October, 48 young girls from across Bangladesh turned up so that our young leaders could run ‘Street20’ cricket competitions with them. This was a great experience for the young leaders and to hear their voices becoming louder day by day was great, this really showed confidence in what they were doing. On the Wednesday evening Ebony and I treated the 24 young leaders to a meal out. We took them for Pizza Hut! I know this sounds strange, travel all the way to Bangladesh and visit Pizza Hut! However there was a reason for this.
Most of the group came from very rural villages and had never seen a pizza. We chose this restaurant to push their limits. This was a week of new skills and going to new places and trying new food was a part of this whole journey. Everyone tried pizza, some did not like it and some loved it but they all loved their ice cream! This experience was more than whether they liked the food or not. We then stayed with them at the ‘Bangladesh Institute for Sport’. Here we found out about their family lives and what they enjoy in life. The young girls covered us in mehendi (Henna), which is still on my hands today and it was a fantastic evening where we just stayed up chatting like old friends.
Thursday 9th October was the ‘Launch’ and although the weather had let us down, the young leaders did not. They delivered a great demonstration of their leadership skills in an indoor venue. That evening we had been invited to the British High Commission. This was a huge event for the young leaders and they all dressed up in their three pieces and saris for the occasion. They were like a rainbow in all their bright colours and big smiles.
I (Beth Evans) spoke at the event and then a young girl on the programme, Nupal, spoke of her experiences. She said that until this week she had felt like an ordinary girl that would just fade into the background of life. She never thought it would be possible to achieve what she did on this course or to feel as confident as she does now in meeting new people and leading a new sport. Nupal spoke about how she felt that this opportunity helped her to realise her potential in life and show her that she can achieve her dreams. It was an emotional speech; myself and Ebony were in tears afterwards.
Some of the members of the national New Zealand Cricket Team were also at the event and they were amazed by our work and inspired by the women and girls from the four corners of Bangladesh. The New Zealand manager, Michael Sharpe, has written about meeting the young people on their website and how impressed he was with the project (see the link below).
All these young people put their heart and soul into this project and really made an effort. I truly believe this project has changed their lives and they will change more people’s lives with the skills they all have now. An example of this was when we wanted to take a team photo on the last day.
Popy, one of the shyest participants at the beginning with no understanding of English was now able to understand what I was saying in English and translate it by gestures and Bengali so that everyone knew what to do, and we all smiled! Seeing Popy translate for me on the last day brought tears to my eyes as this brought home exactly what we had achieved with these young leaders over 5 very short days.
This trip was life changing for me and it was a pleasure to be on it. I hope the young leaders continue their hard work and that they can empower more young people across the country.
CLICK HERE TO SEE THE COLOURFUL PICTURES OF THE BANGLADESH TRIP