In January 2017, Nivedita Sarveswaran travelled to Zimbabwe with Mark and Phillipa Caddy to take part in the third iteration of the FairFight project in Marondera. Today she reflects on some of the achievements and highlights of that trip.
Firstly, Niv spent some time at Nagle House, continuing the project we began there in 2015.
“We did four sessions at Nagle House. Whilst we were based in Harare for most of the first week, Mark and I took our first session at Nagle House on Wednesday 18th January. In the following week, I took the Monday session with Gerald as Mark was teaching at the Old Hararians, and then we were all teaching together again on the Wednesday and Friday. There were 15 students who train regularly with Gerald who came to almost every session.
The remaining 30+ new students came to at least 2 sessions”.
The team also spent some time visiting the Ruwa Community Dojo initative outside Harare, a community dojo project sponsored in part by Jindokai, whose progress you can follow on their Facebook page.
“We spent a couple of hours in the Ruwa area as Taneta Kagande and the Ruwa committee showed us the model and plans for the community centre-dojo. We had some practical suggestions (with regards to storage, changing rooms and offices) in order to make the most of the space for use as a dojo and more general community functions. Several of the Ruwa dojo members came to train at the Old Hararians Dojo and to help at Nagle House on the final day there.”
Like last year, the FairFight team also stopped at the Jindokai Old Hararians dojo for some kihon and kumite drills, and at Peterhouse for both children and adult classes. Since the team had collected a large amount of funds before the trip, they decided to spend a large part of those funds on projects that FairFight and its members have been supporting since the beginning:
Reflecting on her time in Zimbabwe, Niv recalls:
“Whilst I am pleased we were able to make a physical difference for each of the communities we met, it also meant so much to talk to people of all ages and their day to day experiences. In particular, I was grateful for the chance to watch some of the lessons at Nagle House and speak to the girls in more depth about their hopes and aspirations. Through Gerald, it was also lovely to see members from different clubs connecting and training with each other, expanding the network of friends.
Maintaining the momentum of interest in karate at Nagle House will be the key challenge and opportunity moving forward; some of the girls have been selected for squad training now that karate will be in the Olympics and would make great role models for the younger students to look up to. Perhaps have some of the older girls from Harare to demonstrate as well to get the girls interested in competing at local tournaments. You could also encourage socials or opportunities for conversation between the girls at the different clubs for how karate has helped them in other aspects of their life.”