Young people from around the world played cricket at the Lord’s cricket ground on Tuesday to raise awareness and change perceptions of street children. The United Nations estimates that up to 150 million young people are forced to live or work on the streets. And this exposes them to trafficking and abuse.
The co-founder of the Street Child United Group, John Wroe says they want to alter perceptions and demand change from authorities who often turn a blind eye. “These children are often invisible, they are shunned. If you change the way street children are seen, we can begin to change the way that street children are treated.” Wroe said they are creating a global platform and using sport for their voices to be heard.
The Street Child Cricket World Cup is using the power of cricket to raise awareness and tackle the widespread stigma faced by street-connected children, inspiring countries, governments and communities to better protect, respect and support street-connected children worldwide.
The tournament brought together children who have lived and worked on the streets of India, Bangladesh, Mauritius, Tanzania, Nepal, West Indies and England. A number of children were victims of trafficking after they were sold into servitude by their own families because of poverty. Wroe said their key demands include right to identity papers registering their existence, equal access to education and protection from violence.
The event organizers had a difficult time getting the young people to the Lord’s ground to play cricket as many didn’t have birth certificates and passports a few months ago. The organizers went through great lengths during the lead up to the tournament to secure passports and visas for each young person to attend. “We are discriminated against because we are poor,” revealed the street children. “We cannot get identity papers like a passport. Often we have to work from a young age, such as selling fish at the age of seven years or younger. Sometimes, we are very hungry.”