A remarkable Bay Area girl took her own misfortune and turned it into a charity campaign that’s helping people in some of the poorest places in the world.
This story takes us to two of the most different places imaginable — a basketball practice near Silicon Valley and arguably the poorest place in all of Haiti.
The one thing in common: sports.
That’s where Shevali Kadakia comes into play.
“School is really stressful and I stay up late and coming here on the court lets me take it all out and kind of forget about it,” Shevali said.
The Archbishop Mitty Junior now plays basketball on an AAU club team in Atherton and almost had to forget about sports forever.
An 8th grade soccer concussion sidelined Shevali for 15 months.
As doctors tried everything during that time, Shevali noticed she’d accumulated lots of sports uniforms.
“I hated not playing and I thought about other people who also hated not playing but for a different reason – financially because they couldn’t afford such jerseys,” Shevali said.
And that realization is what gets us back to Cite Soleil in the Port-au-Prince section of Haiti. Many say it’s the most impoverished place in the Western Hemisphere.
“It was really eye-opening. People were living on the streets, living in slums,” Shevali said.
Visiting last year, Shevali and her dad rode in a van through the gang-infested community where police do not patrol.
A river of trash filled the dry canal but eventually, behind a gate is Sakala, an oasis of sorts.
”We use sports for community development,” Daniel Tillias, Sakala co-founder, said.
“They played in torn clothes, torn shoes, no socks,” Shevali said.
But the Cite Soleil’s only youth center, where soccer is the sport of choice, had received Shevali’s shipment of jerseys a few months prior.
“We’re grateful because they are all beautiful because they have uniforms,” Tillias said.
But Shevali hadn’t just given them her old threads.
Since her injury, the now 16-year-old started the non-profit SKCharities and has been contacting colleges all across the US asking athletics departments to donate old uniforms — Many are happy to help.
They filled her parents’ garage with boxes of jerseys.
“What Shavali’s doing with her uniform program is very, very simple but usually the great things are simple,” John Paye, Shevali’s Coach, said.
Her basketball coach, John Paye, backed up Montana and young for the Niners after playing at Stanford.
“She’s just being herself, she’s not faking it. She’s a leader the other girls are drawn to her,” Payne said.
When Shevali and her dad visited Haiti to see how the kids liked the jerseys, Shevali also brought medals.
“Their eyes were wide open staring at the medals,” Payne said. “They were just medals I got from the dollar store but for them it meant so much because in the community they’ live in they don’t even get exposed to a lot of stuff.”
And papa’s proud, knowing his once concussed daughter launched this jersey idea while she was down and out.
“While she’s down she’s thinking about others, that was a very proud moment for us,” Manish Kadakia, Shevali’s dad, said.
A selfless Jersey girl from California helping less fortunate kids around the world.
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