Four diplomats – from Serbia, Bosnia, Guatemala, and Chile – organised a tennis match on April 16 and 17 to raise money to build toilets in India. The money was raised through entrance fees, sponsorship and donations.
The idea was the brainchild of Bosnian Ambassador Sabit Subasic, who was appalled by the lack of toilets in Delhi. When he saw people defecating in the open because of inadequate facilities, carrying water bottles to wash themselves, he knew something had to be done to fix the situation.
Subasic then approached his tennis buddies, Vladimir Miric (ambassador of Serbia), Andres Barbe Gonzalez (ambassador of Chile) and Georges de La Roches (ambassador of Guatemala), with a plan.
They decided to organise a tennis match for the large number of foreign diplomats in India, envoys and Indian businessmen. They tied up with the All India Tennis Association to facilitate the matches, while they coordinated with Sulabh for the fund raising. Sulabh is a Delhi-based NGO that takes up sanitation issues and spreads awareness about the need for toilets.
Even before the match day, they had managed to raise Rs 13.3 lakhs through sponsorship and donations, more than their expectations.
On April 16, the day of the match at the R. K. Khanna Stadium in Delhi, the total funds raised tallied to over Rs 25 lakhs.
Around 48 players were randomly allotted to play as 24 doubles.
The tremendous support encouraged the four diplomats to consider making this an annual event. “Our hope is to bring attention to how people like us, diplomats, can do their bit on such a pressing problem,” Subasic said to The Telegraph. “We’re starting with tennis because that’s a sport we play, but we’re not ruling out similar events in football and cricket too.”
— Sulabh International (@SulabhIntl) April 18, 2016