By George Day • 18 March 2020 • 12:13
A young girl lost both parents when she was 15 and had to care for her younger siblings, then she found martial arts.
Gaitree was just 12 when she lost her father in 2009 and 15 when her mother passed three years later. She had to take full responsibility for her younger brother and sister.
The teenager, from Bangladesh, fell into a spiral of depression. But just when everything felt completely hopeless, she found martial arts.
Now, she trains thousands of other young girls – as part of the Girl Power programme run by Plan International – and hopes to help other teenagers and children escape desperate situations.
“Karate has given me the confidence to survive and shown me a new way to lead my life.
“It has empowered me and given me mental and physical strength.”
After Gaitree lost both parents, she had no choice but to become an adult at a very young age.
“There was no one to take responsibility for our family,” she says.
“I didn’t know what I was supposed to do or how to do it, because I was only a child. But I had to take responsibility.
“We didn’t have enough food. I couldn’t provide three meals a day and we had no source of income. I had many sleepless nights with fear.”
The reality is that karate has protected Gaitree from childhood marriage.
She has escaped a life of hardship and potential abuse, and is now sharing her martial arts skills at social events and committees within her community. And she is already achieving incredible things. This year she won the gold medal at the annual Bangabandhu Karate tournament.
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