December 1st, 2009.
News from our Hat-Trick Initiative Programs with BSI, Zambia, Play Soccer, Malawi and Ujiji/Kigoma Municipal Education, Tanzania:
As December 1st approaches, World AIDS day, we have been focusing many of our sessions and trainings on the HIV/AIDS concerns here in Monze, Zambia. Just yesterday we ran a powerful session on such topics for about 120 children in the Showground compound just outside Monze town. Showground is a rural area where livelihoods are made from cattle and tobacco farming, as evidenced by the hundreds of cow horns scattered throughout the paths and fields! The Showground compound used to hold weekly displays of cattle and locally‑grown produce for farmers to buy or trade. Now, it is the home to the Tobacco College of Zambia and not much else. The youth of this compound do physically challenging labor and often have to miss school to assist with farming activities. One or two days a week, we provide fun, soccer drills that incorporate useful health or social information. We have been able to educate the children and coaches of this compound on many issues with our focus this week on HIV/AIDS. The reality of yesterday’s session was difficult for us as you will see but rewarding as well. As we have found out many times, children of too young an age are sexually active. Learning that 10 and 11 year olds were sexually experimenting was disheartening. However, giving them an environment to learn and ask questions provided me with hope for the years to come. Through our games we received many good questions. Working through their options, we allow them to reason and choose a path rather than merely following local traditions. Additionally, we received commitments from many of the children that they would seek testing by the time we next arrived. When we left Showground, we felt like a difference was made. And in holding up our side of the bargain, we made it to the clinic ourselves. “I know, do you?” now adorns our wrists on a bright yellow bracelet. Hopefully seeing this bracelet will continue to motivate the local children to stay informed and make choices.
Please wear red (like our local coaches seen here) on December 1st to show support for World AIDS day. It is a difficult disease we as a world must defeat.
At our partner program in Malawi with Play Soccer, Patrick reports back that the local volunteers have chosen to use the HIV games that were taught to them during our program in July and August. More than 5,000 children will play educational games like HIV tag and Condom tag to increase their awareness on how quickly HIV can spread and how to best protect themselves from HIV. Most importantly, the children will learn how to live with HIV and how to live with friends and family who have HIV. They will learn about staying healthy, to exercise and protect the body from infections caused by HIV. The Play Soccer Malawi program is a true leader in using football to educate a new generation of community leaders.
In Kigoma, Tanzania, more than 100 teachers will use the Coaches across Continents HIV games to help educate local children in a fun and safe way. Nico and Masari continue their excellent work in using football for social development and inclusion.
Coaches across Continents are extremely proud to work with such pro-active partner programs in Africa.