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USA baseball player climbed mountain top, raised money & created meaningful impact to fight sex trade in India
Olympic medallist baseball player RA Dickey created a meaningful impact in the lives of sex workers from India's largest red-light district.
The name RA Dickey might not ring a bell for an average sports fan in India. But ask those people who spent their lives surrounding the red-light area in Mumbai, and you might realise the impact Dickey has made in their lives!
As a baseball player in USA Dickey was a specialised pitcher. He was picked in the Major League Baseball (MLB) draft for the first time in 1996 by the Texas Rangers, but it was not until 2001 that he made his debut. Dickey stayed with the Rangers till 2006 and has since played for various teams like Minnesota Twins, Seattle Mariners, New York Mets, Toronto Blue Jays before finally hanging his boots having played one season for Atlanta Braves in the year 2017.
Besides being a top-class baseball player Dickey has a humanitarian side of helping people. His first charity work was running Honoring the Father Ministries. The faith-based charity provides food, medical supplies, and sports equipment to poor communities in Latin America.
Known for his knuckleball during his playing days, Dickey also has an Olympic medal to his credit – a bronze during the 1996 Atlanta Games representing the United States of America.
After the 2011 season, against the wishes of the New York Mets organization, Dickey climbed Mt. Kilimanjaro in Tanzania. The Mets had warned Dickey that if he were injured during his climb, he would've been cut from the team and lost his $4.25 million 2012 salary. Despite all the adversities, Dickey climbed 19,341 feet to reach Uhuru Peak, the highest point in Africa. His efforts raised awareness and over $130,000 for the Bombay Teen Challenge, an organisation rescues and cares for human trafficking victims in India.
In 2013, aged 38, Dickey came to India to work with the BTC in Kamathipura, Mumbai which is one of the world's oldest and largest red-light districts. Men working with the brothels travel to the poorest and remotest villages in India to lure girls with promises of a job and lodging in the city. Upon arrival, the girls are isolated, tortured, and forced into prostitution. Dickey along with his young daughters, Gabriel and Lila, stayed at the BTC Ashagram along with around 300 rescued children and women.
He arrived in Bombay and saw the grim reality of the sex workers. Girls of the age of his daughters were forced into prostitution was an upsetting site to watch. He applauded the efforts and helped BTC who saved more than thousands of girls from such conditions.
Dickey and his daughters spent time at Ashagram, a rehabilitation campus of BTC. They spent the days playing cricket and singing songs with the children. Dickey, himself a victim of sexual abuse as a child, was deeply touched by the spirit shown by the shelter's youth. Although many of the children are HIV positive, they have hope for their future. This may be the key to the success of the Bombay Teen Challenge.
The Mets pitcher helped in setting up a clinic in the area with the money he had raised. It is perfectly fine if you do not recognise RA Dickey for his achievements in baseball, but he should be remembered by Indians more for his humanitarian effort.