Chandigarh slum kids turn to taekwondo in quest for better future
They are high school students, but they also work as waiters to support their families.
And now they have the opportunity to take part in an international event through their training in taekwondo. The quest for a better future has turned slum children towards this modern martial art from Korea, similar to karate.
What began as a hobby has become their passion. Raised in the slums of Hallomajra, both Parmod Kumar and Suraj Kumar are headed to Bangkok to take part in the 3rd Heroes Taekwondo International Championship and Para-Taekwondo 2017 being organised by Thonburi University from August 5. The event has participants from about 10 countries, including Hong Kong, China, Uzbekistan, Iran, Indonesia, Singapore, Philippines, Malaysia, Laos, Pakistan, Nepal, Bangladesh, Ethiopia and Qatar.
“The sport has helped us channelise our energy,” says Parmod, a Class-11 student of Government Senior Secondary School, Sector 47, Chandigarh. His father is a factory worker; Parmod also works as a waiter with a catering company to supplement his family’s income.
Among 450 kids trained in martial art
The two are among 450 students of different slums who are being trained in taekwondo, including 50 girls.
Suraj Kumar, a student of Class 11 in Government High School, Hallomajra, says, “The training is free of cost, but to match competitors from other countries we need stamina for which a proper diet is a must. Whatever I earn as a waiter, I spend on the diet.”
A student and trainer, Ashish has applied for admission in a graduation course. His father runs a ‘kiryana’ shop. He too works as a waiter with a catering company. “I have participated in events in Nepal, Sri Lanka and Thailand. My sport supports my education; this is turn improves my prospects of getting a decent job,” he says.
“Parents do not support girls to come forward and learn this sport. But we are working to convince them to empower them and send their girls for self-defence training; it is the need of the hour,” says Ashish
Mother of two is driving force behind initiative
A black belt in taekwondo, 41-year-old Amita Marwah is the force behind this initiative. She started training classes as a summer camp in 2011. Since then, the mother of two from Panchkula has trained slum children from 5.30pm to 7pm daily in Hallomajra. Both her daughters, Himanshi and Ishani, are also trained in taekwondo. Himanshi is also travelling to Bangkok with her mother. A total of 18 children trained by her have participated in national and international events and won medals.