I am always impressed with where New Zealanders pop up around the world.
Here is an example of a young man raised in Christchurch who has decided to help disadvantaged youth in Sri Lanka and India in an unusual, but very valuable way. I encourage you to read his story below and support him if you can.
Alex can be contacted through www.alexreesecricket.com.
There was a time in my life, a little more than three years ago, when the decision to take a ride in a taxi in downtown Mumbai changed my life. His name was Lax. Lax was a modest man with two kids and a wife, who drove a taxi for a living and claimed to have the best air-conditioning in Mumbai. Lax lived in the middle of one of the largest slums in Mumbai.
I was living in Mumbai, so this relationship began to grow quickly. We would have tea together in the morning, spend time with his family and friends and I was privileged enough to be invited to his nephews wedding - right in the heart of their slum. It was magnificent, and the sense of community in their local slum was something to be admired.
On my last day in Mumbai, Lax pulled me aside and asked where his two boys could go to get some cricket coaching. I rattled of a few local academies for him to get in contact with but he just looked at me blankly and said there is no way he could afford that. Bearing in mind these academies would cost around NZD$10 per month, I soon realised the position he, and thousands of other people were in. The penny dropped, and the vision of the Cricket Live Foundation was born.
I got home and put pen to paper the vision was simple - Life through Cricket.
In the early days, the search for funding and suitable partners was understandably very challenging, however it wasn’t too long before we formed another lasting relationship. This time it wasn’t a taxi driver, but Merrill Fernando, the Founder and Chairman of Dilmah Tea based in Colombo. Merrill welcomed the idea with open arms and our plan was to establish a network of the Cricket Live Education and Development Centres in Sri Lanka initially, before finding and Indian partner and expanding to India.
The Cricket Live Foundation is now set up as a New Zealand based non-profit organisation. Our objective is to bring cricket to the kids of Sri Lanka and India who currently live in underprivileged environments with limited opportunity. To make any social or global change, you need a vehicle to drive that particular change. Our vehicle is Cricket. By using cricket as a vehicle, we can develop the life skills of our kids, to set them up for their lives.
Cricket Live recognises that resources in the sub-Continent are scarce for those who have grown up in an under-privileged environment. It is our privilege to give these children an opportunity to be recognised and to develop their skills not only as cricketers, but as young individuals.
Currently, we have one centre based in Moratuwa, Sri Lanka, with an initial intake of 50 children. In August and September we will open another two centres, where we will welcome another 250 children to our program. All kids will be with us for 3 years, before being injected back into the program as either mentors, assistant coaches, trainers or office workers on a part time basis.
A program such as this relies heavily on sponsor support and funding. With the Sri Lankan and Indian markets being influential markets for New Zealand, I see a great opportunity here to use the Cricket Live Foundation as a platform for New Zealand businesses to establish and develop new, key relationships between our two countries. We are lucky to have cricket as a unifying factor, and the possibility of further linkages that can be formed through this are endless.