As the threat from coronavirus stalks the world, making the fight against it a truly global war, it has spawned malodorous, manmade offshoots—taboos and discrimination, all underpinned by suspicion and unreason.
A young American couple who were using football as a tool for social transformation in a remote village in Jharkhand was suddenly set upon by an unexpected ‘enemy’: a section of locals, crazed by COVID-19 fears, targeted them as ‘carriers’ of the deadly virus. Franz Gastler and Rose Thomson Gastler and their baby girl, gripped by fear, have taken refuge at a friend’s house in Ranchi and are waiting for the first flight to the US.
Gastler, who has been working as a teacher in the tribal hinterlands of India since 2007, founded the NGO Yuwa in 2009. In 2012, he was joined by Rose Thomson and in 2015, the duo established the Yuwa School, a unique institution that uses soccer to empower young girls who lead terribly marginalised lives in their vilages.