YUWA INDIA EMPOWERING CHILDREN WITH FOOTBALL
This is a truly inspiring story from one of the poorest provinces in India .The province of Jharkhand only gained statehood in the year 2000.The province has some of the worst statistics in the country in regards to important demographic and social inclusion aspects for example only 40% have some form of electricity and literacy is below 40 percent for the region.These two elements have allowed the region to fall victim to many atrocities in which poverty is the main catalyst. Child abduction and Bus Bombings are rife in the area from Maoist revolutionaries and running battles with authorities are a regular occurrence. The main victims in all of this strife are the local youth and especially young girls who are forced to marry young and have their young lives taken away from them as well as their innocence.
There is a very traditional and old cultural view in Jharkhand when it comes to the roles of young women and children in the region. It is believed that women should work for the family and only be involved in aspects of life that benefit the family and dote upon their husbands.The girls are so isolated that they can spend years living next to another young girl but never meet her.The horrendous social and economic frailties have displaced hundreds of young girls and forced them into lives of family devotion without having any time to simply just be a child without the worry of abuse and enslavement.
Most girls here are shockingly isolated,” Gastler says. “Some of them lived right next door to each other but had never met before they became teammates. Their families control their lives, their destinies. A lot of these girls are little more than indentured servants. (Franz Gastler – Partner of YUWA)
Frank Gastler is an Alumni of Edina Grad School and he is a man who has made incredible strides to prevent this from happening and liberate hundreds of young girls lives by using Football as a vessel and tool to change the path of negative atrocities and help bring the children into a safe and promising and character building environment which can benefit the community and change the culture of abuse.Gastler and two associates started YUWA in 2008 which began as a scholarship program and has now evolved into a mega vehicle against gender inequality.
Soccer bridges the gap,” says Deming, 29, Yuwa’s director of operations and fundraising. “The girls here are cut off from everything; they don’t have any opportunities. They’re slaves to their parents and then they’re slaves to their husbands, and they never have a chance to connect to the world at large. Soccer draws them out of their households and brings them into a positive environment.” Suddenly, the girls have friends, allies and a network of support. School attendance jumps dramatically. Even the other villagers begin to see the girls as people, rather than creatures of burden – (Greg Deming/Partner of YUWA)
YUWA provide a football programme on a huge scale and offer opportunities to play in teams and take part in trainings bringing girls from all over the province together to meet and socialize which begins to offer a unique route away from the lives they have with families.The program does not believe in past charitable theories where money is thrown at the problem without having a 100% active program on the field and on many occasions when money is thrown at the social and democratic issue the group find that the money is then stolen or the equipment and apparatus bought are then taken from the targeted charity therefore wasting the help which was given.
The YUWA group have looked to change this by only offering a two third discount on equipment meaning that the girls have to save a little amount in order to receive them which mentally gives them a positive outlook on what the group is trying to achieve whereas before equipment would be taken now there is a sense of ownership for the girls with the equipment and gives them a sense of self-pride which makes it much harder to be taken away as a sense of ownership and pride is a powerful weapon to have.
At first we tried just buying equipment for the girls, but then we’d see a father wearing his girl’s jersey or his girl’s shoes. If they’ve worked for it, saved for it, fought for it, it makes it so much harder for people to take it away.- ( Stephen Peterson/ Partner at YUWA)
Since the program started the province have jumped from 20th to 4th in the state rankings which has been a massive achievement and is evidence that the great work put in by the YUWA group is paying off which is especially evident in the villages and culture of the province as a change of behaviour towards young girls and their roles in the community.The huge rise in school attendance in the region is a very promising sign that maybe the literacy percentage in the near future is going to see a sharp rise and shows that with the right type of charity in the right model can change the course of negativity and can make life better for so many young children in India.
YUWA won the Nike game changers award which awarded them with $25,000 which is being used to put in place full-scale tournament pitches !