Ansar Ahmed Ullah
Contributing Editor, Shottobani
London: 4 boys and 4 girls who until recently were surviving on the streets of Dhaka are heading for Lords Cricket Ground as semi-finalists in the Street Child Cricket World Cup. Before receiving help from LEEDO, a Dhaka based NGO, which now provides the children with a home, the children were experiencing exploitation and abuse in Dhaka at the railway station, the ferry terminal and in domestic service.
The children have reached the semi-final of the tournament as representatives of Bangladesh. In the knock out rounds they beat teams from Mauritius, Nepal, the West Indies and North India. They lost games with Tanzania, England and South India.
Mike Sherriff, the chairperson of Friends of Street Children Bangladesh a small charity in the UK that has supported the costs of the team coming to the UK said, “This has been an amazing journey for the children from the streets of Dhaka to the Peace Home run by LEEDO and now to Lords, the home of cricket, as World Cup semi-finalists. We wish them success at Lords, and we are also looking forward to the game with MPs who are part of the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Bangladesh, which will take place on Thursday”.
During their stay in England the children were welcomed at a reception on the 39th floor of Canary Wharf. They have visited the Tower Hill Memorial, close to the Tower of London, which commemorates people from the Commonwealth, including many from Bangladesh, who served in the Merchant Navy and lost their lives in the two world wars. They have also visited the Oval Cricket Ground, Trafalgar Square and Westminster Abbey.
In London and Cambridge, the children from Bangladesh have performed dances, songs and martial arts. At the Canary Wharf Reception their dance to the song Joi Bangla and singing of the folk song Tomar Ghore Boshot Kore Koi Jona were especially popular.
The children from Bangladesh have an important message for people following the team. Their message is that children should not have to stay on the street. Children need shelter, safety, love and education. The United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child should apply to children surviving on the streets of Dhaka.