Thanks to street football, they now have something in common that they identify with, because they're all street footballers, regardless which country they live in. Like the staff of our local partner organisations, the children will probably meet for the first time outside India or Pakistan. We have seen the staff begin to grow together as a team; we've already attended joint workshops in Nepal and Germany. But at some point, I'm sure, our participants will be able to invite each other to meet on the spot. That will be a great day for all.
What is the current situation in the region?
Grover: We're constantly monitoring the security situation on the ground. There are times when some children near the border don't come to school for safety reasons. After four wars, the conflict is no longer military, but it continues and can escalate at any time. Unfortunately, there is always the danger of shots being fired or random attacks.
What hurdles did you have to surmount at the beginning of the project?
Grover: We have always proceeded with caution. It's a sensitive environment. We see ourselves as an education and development initiative for children and young people. Politics and religion isn't our subject and we don't want to be co-opted by anyone for other purposes. When I asked large organisations in the beginning if they wanted to join in, they declined. They were afraid of problems.
The local partner organisations embarked on this new path with us and are now part of a shared journey. This is courageous and very worthy of recognition. Not least because I can think of virtually no examples of co-operation between Pakistani and Indian non-governmental organisations.
And how did the families of the children react?
Grover: That was really exciting, because all the families accepted the project with warm hearts and open minds. Many still have relatives on the other side. "These are our brothers and sisters," some have said. Think of the division of Germany prior to 1989 – although I don't believe that India and Pakistan could or should grow together again someday. It was also interesting how the staff of our partner organisations behaved at the beginning of the project.