During our time in the community, we felt it was important to love them by continuing to listen to what they thought would benefit them. As well as listening to the adults, we wanted the children to have a voice. One thing that most of the children requested were martial arts classes. We were fortunate to have made friends with two of the best karate teachers in our city. After some time with them, it was clear to us that they would be excellent teachers for these children and carry well the values of H4C. At present we provide karate classes at our centre one day a week. We have approximately 80-120 children coming to different classes throughout the day.
Some would question why do martial arts, when maybe there are other obvious and greater needs in the community. However martial arts are very popular in this region. The children coming to our centre know this, but also know that they would never otherwise be offered this opportunity. We have found that the karate classes have bought so much joy to these children. Also we have seen other benefits like mastering of a skill allowing the children who have suffered trauma to build self-esteem and confidence in their abilities.
The karate classes have also been a tool to help bring reconciliation to divisions in the community. There have been groups of teenagers that refused to be in the same room initially, due to numerous differences. Alongside the karate teachers, we have been able to address these problems and help the children rebuild broken relationships. They have been taught that at our centre everyone is welcome and all are respected and treated equally.
In a community that is very traditional it has been great to see many girls joining our classes. We found that there are more resources and opportunities available for boys. We wanted to ensure that the girls knew they had a safe place and were just as welcome. Many of the girls have asked us if we could also provide football classes, which typically in such communities have only been available for boys. With increased support, this is something we would love to be able to offer at our community centre.
We have been encouraged to see how quickly the children have improved, even though the classes are only 1 hour a week. Some are nearly ready to progress onto their first belts. However at present they don’t have the correct karate clothes to wear a belt. It would be amazing if with increased resources we could provide uniforms and more lessons as this is something the children would really appreciate. This is why your support is so valuable.