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India's cricketing stars bowled over by Zimbabwean orphans

HARARE, 31 August 2005 – A group of India’s star cricketers today met with some of Zimbabwe’s 1.3million orphans, listening to the problems faced by the children and visiting a UNICEF-supported education project.

During a rare half day away from practice, and as part of the team’s tour of Zimbabwe, vice-captain Rahul Dravid, fast bowler Ifran Pathan, off spinner Harbhajan Singh and India’s Ambassador to Zimbabwe met with more than 100 orphans on the outskirts of the capital, Harare. There the players spoke with the children, and watched as they performed theatre and music aimed at HIV prevention and confidence building, before the players put on a coaching clinic for the youngsters.

“These children are inspiring,” said Rahul Dravid. “I don’t know if they are Zimbabwe’s next test cricketers or not, but certainly given half a chance they can be the country’s next teachers and doctors.”

More than one in five Zimbabwean children are now orphaned, most of them due to HIV-related deaths. Orphaned children are typically the first to drop out of school, are more vulnerable to exploitation, have endured the trauma of watching a parent die, and are at great risk of ill health. They are at the heart of UNICEF’s work in Zimbabwe, where the UN Children’s Fund provides community support to counseling and psychosocial support for 100,000 orphaned children, together with education and health projects throughout Zimbabwe.

The players were a huge hit for the orphans at the UNICEF-supported project, after which they accompanied a 14-year-old boy to his one-room home, where he is the head of the household. Both the boy’s parents have died, leaving him to care for his two siblings, seven and five. There are 50,000 such ‘child headed households’ in Zimbabwe and hundreds of thousands across Southern Africa.

“For me these children are a reminder of both how fortunate we are, and our obligation to use that fortune to help others,” said Dravid. “It doesn’t take much to help a child through school, but from what I have seen today, the impact is enormous.”

The Indian team is well known for its support to UNICEF projects across the cricketing world. 

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For further information, please contact:

In Zimbabwe:
James Elder, Communication Officer
Tel +263 91276120
jelder@unicef.org

In India:
Corinne Woods, Communication Officer
Tel: + 91 11 24690401
cwoods@unicef.org

 

 


 

 

 

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