This January, for the third year running, FairFight is sending a small team to Zimbabwe to carry on our work with young girls, women and communities. It’s been a tough year for our Zimbabwe teachers and students: the rains are late again, causing long draughts that have ravaged crops. The on-going cash crisis means day-to-day business is difficult for many and financial difficulties have made it difficult for our students and teachers to focus on their training, but our collaborations with Nagle house and Peterhouse have been able to weather the storm. We managed to organise the first FairFight indoor tournament in October 2016 in which competitors from both schools as well as the Harare and Chitungwiza Kofukan dojos took part.
This year, FairFight veteran and Jindokai Shihan Mark Caddy is coordinating the project, and is joined by Cambridge PhD student Nivedita Sarveswaran. Together, they’ve raised around 2000 US dollars through online fundraising campaigns. 500 dollars from that went on the purchase of lightweight gis for the girls and body protectors for upcoming competitions.
Nivedita says about her passion for martial arts: "Having started training as a shy young girl in a class full of grown men, karate showed me that I could match my peers in strength and skill through hard work and perseverance – a lesson I carried off the mat as well. I continued training throughout university, discovering the athleticism and mental resilience essential to sports karate, as well as the fierceness and technical fluency required of more traditional combat. While on the surface these traits may seem unique to the world of martial arts, they strengthen the body and mind in ways that inevitably help inspire self-confidence to make one’s way in the world"
They will take the rest of the cash to Zimbabwe, some of which will go to fund FairFight operations for the coming year, while the rest will be used to support local initiatives such as the Ida Wekwako Old Age Home, the Musha Wevana Orphanage, and the Svosve village and Musha Mukadzi women’s empowerment project. These are all charities and organizations that FairFight has worked with before through the EUCSA study trip.
The team lands in Harare on the 14th of January, where they will spend the first week of their trip. Their plan includes a series of trainings with our old friends the Jindokai Old Harareans, where FairFight trained last year. FairFight will also visit the Ruwa community dojo, a project located just outside of Harare and funded partly through Jindokai donations. During that week, there will also be the opportunity to train at Peterhouse and Nagle House in Marondera. The second week will be spent in Marondera, where Gerald Muusha and the team will spend time following up on the progress of our Nagle House project, ending with a grading session for the girls there. As the team will be staying on Peterhouse premises, they hope to engage with the successful Peterhouse Girls and Boys karate programme set up by FairFight and Gerald Muusha last year. During their stay in Marondera, they will also plan for the year ahead and meet with community businesses and organizations with a view to building up community involvement in our project. Gerald has big plans for future FairFight tournaments, in which we want to include the whole community.
For Mark Caddy, the main objective of this trip is to strengthen the bonds and relationships that we set up before. Mark is particularly interested to discover the Ruwa dojo and see how the students at Nagle House are progressing under Gerald’s hard work.