Community Papers

FACE TO FACE: Hockey night in India

Southpointe sixth-grader Cairo Malhi is hoping to introduce the game of hockey to the tiny Indian village of Malhiawala, where his family is originally from, and is accepting donations of hockey sticks to bring with him.  - Robert Mangelsdorf
Southpointe sixth-grader Cairo Malhi is hoping to introduce the game of hockey to the tiny Indian village of Malhiawala, where his family is originally from, and is accepting donations of hockey sticks to bring with him.
— image credit: Robert Mangelsdorf

Sixth grade student Cairo Malhi knows he’s lucky to live where he does. As a Tsawwassen resident and Southpointe Academy student, Cairo has countless advantages in life many children around the world his age simply do not have.

Such is the case in the small northern Indian village of Malhiawala, where Malhi’s family is originally from.

Life in the tiny farming community of about 250 is difficult. From an early age, children younger than Cairo are expected to work in the fields and tend the livestock. Fun is a luxury many there simply cannot afford.

That’s why Cairo has decided that when he visits Malhiawala this holiday season with his family, to bring the children of the village a little bit of fun.

Cairo’s plan is introduce them to great Canadian game of hockey.

“I think they’ll enjoy it,” he says. “I’m guessing they get bored because they’re really poor there.”

Cairo, who is a goalie with the South Delta Minor Hockey Association, is currently collecting hockey sticks which he plans to bring to India with him on his trip next week, and distribute them to the children of Malhiawala.

“I was hoping to have 20, but we already have five sticks [in the first day],” he says.

Cairo’s mom Rauni says the way things are going, they could have more than 50 hockey sticks to hand out by the time they leave for their trip this Sunday.

“It’s going to be a bit of a mob scene when we give them out, I think,” says Rauni. “There’s not a lot of family left in Malhiawala, so this will be a good way to reestablish those roots and leave something behind.”

While the temperatures do dip below freezing in Malhiawala, there are no ice rinks in Punjab. But the large courtyards many of the homes in Malhiawala have for their livestock make perfect spots to play street hockey, says Rauni.

“There’s not a lot of fun for kids there,” she says. “So we wanted to bring them a bit of fun… in a Canadian way.”

Cairo will be writing about his experiences for his social studies class and hopes that when he returns to Malhiawala in the future, that the children there will still be playing hockey.

“I love hockey,” he says. “It’s something you can do with your friends whenever you want. I think they’ll like it.”

• Anyone wanting to donate hockey sticks before Dec. 22 can email raunimalhi@gmail.com

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