Chennai street girl wins gold medal at the Street Child Games in Rio
Hepsiba, a street child Chennai, recently won the 100-metre global running race at the ‘Street Child Games’ held in Brazil’s Rio de Janeiro. Karunalaya, an NGO in Chennai, took Hepsiba and four other street children to Rio to participate in the games. The other members of team too won medals at the games.
Karunalaya’s Paul Sunder Singh explained how Hepsiba, a natural sprinter, made it possible. “We had organised a sports contest for street children, and this girl was sheer talent. Actually, she just about made it. It was a miracle that her passport came through on time,” says Singh.
Singh is said to have taken a loan for the one-and-a-half week trip. He added that Street Child United, an international NGO, too helped Karunalaya in this regard added.
16-year-old Hepsiba lived on Sydenhams Road in Chennai along with her mother, a widow. They now live in Chennai corporation’s shelter.
She is believed to mesmerize onlookers with her ability to sprint. Those who are familiar with Hepsiba say that she developed the skill on the city streets. But her coach Prabhakar Suresh believes that she is a natural sprinter.
Usha, also a member of the team, addressed the Street Child Games General Assembly and stressed the need to protect street children from violence, especially from the police who are supposed to help them. “Everyday we fear the police. Police are supposed to support and safeguard us, but we don’t experience this. To protect children from violence at the hands of the police, street children need to be invited to speak at police training so they (police) can understand and empathise,” she said.
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