Sports give hope to the hopeless

Naznin Akhter . Dhaka | Update:

Sharmin Farhana Chowdhury with her organisation Sports for Hope and Independence (SHI) members. Photo: CollectedSharmin Farhana Chowdhury believes sports can conquer one's disabilities and frustrations. 

And so, she runs across the country from one place to another to inspire underprivileged children and persons with disabilities, to take up sports. Besides deriving joy from sports, they now dream to become self-reliant through her inspiration.

She has formed several rugby teams for boys and girls at different places.

Coach Abdul Karim trained the Bagerhat boys rugby team which became runners-up in the National Rugby tournament on 29 March, said Sharmin.

She founded her organisation, Sports for Hope and Independence (SHI), in 2016 to encourage people to engage in sports.

SHI sports development chief Pappu Lal told Prothom Alo that they have so far trained some 1,763 people from Dhaka, Kishoreganj, Chattogram, Sirajganj, Cox's Bazar (Rohingya camps), Gopalganj, Bagerhat, Sreemangal and Gaibandha in various kinds of sports.

Jasim, 27, who is from Kishoreganj and received SHI training, said that he suffered from typhoid fever when he was seven and lost his ability to move.

"After getting SHI training, I can now swim," he said to Prothom Alo. He has two swimming companions -- Rafiqul Islam and Humayun. Both of them had met with road accidents and lost their ability to walk.

Rafiqul, who could not even stand upright for the past 10 years, has been swimming like others, Jasim added.

Sharmin told Prothom Alo that she wants all children and youths, including the underprivileged and disabled, to engage in sports activities.

"Don't play games on mobile phones. Do it in playgrounds," she said. As part of this, she regularly arranges traditional rural games contests in 15 parks.

Sharmin mentioned her father Shahabuddin Ahmed, who donated land to the Centre for the Rehabilitation of the Paralysed (CRP) in Savar and CRP founder Valerie N Tailor, as her inspiration. She worked as a volunteer for CRP for a long time.

"Despite being well off, I found the meaning of my life through my work," she concluded.

*This report, originally published in Prothom Alo print edition, has been rewritten in English by Imam Hossain

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