STREET CHILD GAMES 2016

Azad Foundation envisions a world where no child has to live and/or work on streets.

We are proud to announce the 4-member squad of former street connected Children from Pakistan participated in Street Child Games 2016 at Rio de Janerio, Brazil with the support of HBL, the leading commercial bank of Pakistan. In these games 30 former Street-Connected children from 9 countries participated. The Street Child Games took place this year from 14th March, 2016 till 22nd March, 2016 ahead of the Olympic and Paralympics.

Street Child Games was announced as a charity partner of the Olympic Truce Movement, which runs through the Olympic and Paralympic Games 2016.

The Olympic Truce Movement is an initiative of the International Olympic Committee (IOC) to encourage education, development, peace and social inclusion through the power of sport. The Movement was presented by the President of the Organizing Committee Mr. Carlos Nuzman at the 70th United Nations General Assembly on 26 October 2015 and was signed by 180 UN member countries.

The Street Child Games will feature a range of Olympic-themed sports, including 100m, 400m, 400m Relay, Hurdles, Shot Put, and Long Jump. It will also include the first ever Street Child Congress - a model UN-style assembly where children will create a resolution comprising their demands for the rights of street children worldwide.

Mehar Ali Mustafa, Salman Hussain, Naseer Ahmed and Mohammad Naeem represented Pakistan in Brazil at the inaugural Street Child Games.


The Ambassadors

Mehar Ali Mustafa belongs to Ibrahim Hyderi area from Karachi. To earn bread for his family, Mehar started deep sea fishing at a very young age. He remained engaged in it for 5-6 years. In early 2014, Mehar's passion for football brought him to Pakistan Street Children Football Team's trials for Street Child World Cup 2014. Mehar got selected for the team and represented Pakistan in Brazil where the team won Bronze medal. After the world cup, Mehar went on tour with the team in I am Somebody Campaign and is one of the nine children who are financially supported by HBL in shape of a monthly stipend. In 2015, Mehar was selected for Cambridge Ambassador Program - a 3 month course at Cambridge organized by Street Child United.

Salman Hussain belongs to Korangi area in Pakistan's largest city Karachi. Due to family situation and mental stress, Salman ran away from home at an early age and lived on streets for six years. Salman was introduced to Azad Foundation few years ago and began a slow and steady rehabilitation process. Salman has represented Azad Foundation at various forums as voice of Pakistani street connected children. He was also a member of Pakistan Team at Street Child World Cup 2014 in Brazil. Salman aims to continue his role as Street Child Ambassador and help other children turn their lives around just like him.

Naseer Ahmed belongs to Ibrahim Hyderi area from Karachi. At a young age, Naseer's father passed away and the responsibility of running the house felt on his young shoulders. Naseer took that challenge and worked at various factories under harsh conditions in low wages. Naseer joined Azad Foundation's Sports for Development Programme when he was selected in Pakistan Street Children Football Team's tour to Chicago KICS Cup and Norway Cup 2015. Since then Naseer has become a key member of the team both due to his on field performances and his role in motivating other children to join the programme.

Mohammad Naeem belongs to Malir area from Karachi. At the age of 10, due to family situation, Naeem started working in a Papad factory where he and other children of his age are forced to work extensively for minimal wages. That work took its toll on his young body and he felt it. He was fired from the job and started cutting and selling grass. During that job, not only Naeem, like other children engaged in this work, faced continuous risk of hand injuries and infections, but he was also threaten by police and the buyers. Naeem joined Azad Foundation's Sports for Development Programme when he was selected in Pakistan Street Children Football Team's tour to Chicago KICS Cup and Norway Cup 2015. Naeem is a firm believer that no child should be made to work or live on the streets and he's aiming to become a football star that can motivate and work for the underprivileged children in Pakistan.


The Games

Forte Sao Joao Urca located at the foot of the renowned Sugarloaf Mountain was the arena for SC Games Finals. In this attractive stadium, the teams competed in six Olympic-themed events: 100m, 100m Hurdles, 400m, Long Jump, Shot Put and 4 x 100m Mixed countries Relay. 8 top athletes reached the finals after an intense qualifying event that took place on March 19th 2016.

20th March 2016 was all about Pakistan as the young athletes captivated everyone with their dazzling performance by bagging 4 Gold, 5 Silver and 4 Bronze medals. The team finished 1st in overall standings.

Naeem who finished 1st in individual medal tally, said "It was the first time we were performing on tracks. It shows that Pakistani Street connected children have immense talent and if we are given proper opportunities we can make our country proud."

Mehar, who won gold in the long jump, described the medal ceremony the proudest moment in his life as he got a chance to hear his national anthem played at an international sporting event.

Pakistani athletes don't have the facilities and opportunities to progress but Mehar was hopeful that it will change after this event. People back home will be excited to see us. Last time they saw us at the Street Child World Cup and now with the gold medals I am hopeful that they will support us even more.

According to Naseer it is important to support the children who perform in international events because it will eventually help out other street connected children as well. Thanks to the hard work of our coaches we have performed well in this event. In our community, many children who are in same situation like me look up to me. If we are supported, in future we can motivate and support these children as well.

Event Gold Silver Bronze
100 mNaeem(Pakistan)Mehar(Pakistan) Naseer (Pakistan)
400 m Naeem(Pakistan)Mehar (Pakistan) Naseer (Pakistan)
Long Jump Mehar(Pakistan) Naeem (Pakistan) Vianey (Pakistan)
110 m Hurdles Innocent (Burundi Naseer (Pakistan) Mehar (Pakistan)
4 x 100 m Mixed Relay Salman (Pakistan) Mehar (Pakistan) Naeem (Pakistan)

The Street Child Rights Congress

Street Child Games was not limited to sports only. The event also included the first ever Street Child Congress - a model UN-style assembly where children from the participating countries demanded for the rights of street connected children worldwide.

Rio's famous Copa Cabana Palace hosted the participants in weeklong sessions where various focus groups and interviews were held with the young ambassadors to hear their voices. During the session, the participants shared their moving and inspirational stories and talked about the need to safeguard three fundamental rights of street connected children i.e. Legal Identity, Education and Protection from Violence. Representing Azad Foundation and the 1.5 millions street connected children in Pakistan, Salman, Mehar, Naeem and Naseer shed light on the violence faced by millions of at-risk children in Pakistan.

18th March was an emotional and historic day where the congress sessions came to conclusion at the General Assembly. In front of delegates, media representatives and civil society members, the young ambassadors demanded that their voices must not be treated as mere words and the promises that world has made time and time again must be fulfilled.

Salman and Mehar from Pakistan Squad shared stories, facts and possible solutions to the violence faced by millions of street connected children on the streets and slums of Pakistan.

Salman said "On streets it is a vicious cycle (of violence). We face violence from ourselves, other children, police and society. This violence is not just physical but sexual as well and often results in loss of life. Why do people expect us to respect them, when they don't protect and respect us?"

Mehar shared that the concept of 'Street Connected Child' is not limited to the children living and working on roads. It includes children working in extreme labor such as deep sea fishing. "They hire us on cheap wages and make us do extreme harsh work." It is not limited to the verbal and physical abuses; the work itself is a torture. "Children are made to dive in sea to look after the fishing net and keep in the eye on the motor fan. Many children slip and hit the fan. I've seen young boys dying in front of my eyes. This has to stop!".

The Pakistani duo, like other participants talking on protection from violence, demanded that police should be trained about street connected children. Additionally, labor laws should be made strict so that children are not forced in extreme labor.

After the ambassadors from all countries made their voices heard, a Resolution containing their demands for the rights of street connected children worldwide was passed to share with United Nations and governments of the world.


Arts & Cultural Activities

Street Child Games presented the young ambassadors with opportunities to explore their creative talent through arts and promote their national and regional cultures in front of the world. The teams were invited to the Babilônia and Chapeu Mangueira communities to paint a brightly-coloured mural. These activities also included painting and performing sessions at The British School. Naeem and Mehar performed the famous Lewa - a Balochi Dance and got a standing ovation from the crowd. On April 17th , young people enjoyed drumming and capoeira sessions at the Lapa Arches and visited São Martinho, a shelter for young people at risk of living on the streets.