20 July 2015
The Proteas, South Africa’s national cricket team currently on tour in Bangladesh, teamed up with the International Children’s Palliative Care Network (ICPCN) to spread some Madiba Magic among young cricket fans in Chittagong.
The youngsters, all born with life-limiting conditions, were treated to a once-in-a- lifetime opportunity of spending the afternoon with the Proteas in celebration of Nelson Mandela International Day, at the Zahur Ahmed Chowdhury Cricket Stadium.
The 18 children were accompanied by their parents and spent a day of fun with the team. The children are patients at the Paediatric Oncology Centre at Chittagong Medical College Hospital. They watched the team train, and received ICPCN wristbands and NOW campaign cricket bats as they eagerly waited to meet the players.
Mandela Day is a day set aside annually to celebrate Mandela’s life and legacy, and all South Africans and citizens of the world are encouraged to make acts of kindness to help change the world for the better.
Proteas assistant coach Adrian Birrell, one of the drivers of team culture, said humility and compassion – keys traits of the late leader – were the founding qualities by which the Proteas lived.
“We knew that back home most South Africans would be spending 67 minutes doing good deeds in Nelson Mandela’s memory and we felt we wanted to share that Madiba legacy with the people of Chittagong,” he said. “The Proteas are all about higher purpose and we felt it would be a great opportunity to give back to the community and to contribute towards a worthwhile cause.”
A tour could get tedious between moving from the hotel, training and playing, Birrell explained, so it was nice to do something fun and different. “These children are suffering from terminal illness; it’s tragic for them and their families. It was humbling to see the excitement and smiles on their faces.
“Hopefully that makes some kind of difference to their lives. Hopefully they forgot about their plight in these few minutes that they were with us signing autographs and interacting with the players.
“I think the most important thing for us was to bring smiles to their faces by spreading some Madiba magic to those less fortunate than us. We tried to share a little bit of what the Proteas stood for and gave an unconditional act of kindness. I think it’s important for all South Africans to give where we can, if we can all do a little bit it can go a long way.”
Watch the Proteas with the children in Chittagong:
Speaking of the work the network does, media and marketing officer, Lorne Sithole, said: “The ICPCN’s mission is to achieve the best quality of life and care for children and young people with life-limiting conditions, a critical necessity especially in an impoverished country like Bangladesh. It is a dream come true for many of the children here from the Chittagong Medical Hospital.
“Bangladesh is one of the poorest countries in the world and access to medical care, information and resources is limited. We hope this day will at least have given these brave children something to smile about.”
The Proteas’ two-Test series against Bangladesh starts tomorrow. They had mixed success in the limited overs portion of their tour, winning the T20 series 2-0 but losing the One Day Internationals 2-1 to the home team.