Using the power of soccer to fight HIV/AIDS

 
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Mar 30, 2011

"We need to cheer our home team versus HIV/AIDS

Opo is one of the coaches/peer educators that work with Vijana Amani Pamoja. Here he shares his inspiring story and why he wants to fight the stigma surrounding HIV and AIDS.

MY COACH’S STORY

Today I have this chance of reflecting and celebrating the life of the best friend I have ever had, the person who has shaped how I have viewed life since I was a young boy. Even though I did not get the chance to enjoy his company into adulthood the experiences I have had with him gave me a better understanding of what life is and how to relate to other people. These experiences, that I treasure so much, give me the extra energy that I, as a Skillz coach, need when I intervene and advocate for positive behavior change among my friends and young people in my community.

Dave (not real name) was a funny, energetic, and playful friend. He was full of games and he loved football very much. During my school holidays, travelling upcountry was the only thing in my mind. School holidays were the best times in my life, to date. I cannot remember having so much fun since those days—and the star of the show was Dave. Dave’s parents died when he was still a little boy. As I knew it then, his parents died from “the wrath of a strong wind” wiping out the entire village, they called the wind “Ayaki Matieka,” a Luo word for “the wind that finishes.” After his parents died, he was put under the custody of his uncle. We nicknamed Dave “Rivaldo,” a Legend of Brazilian and world soccer. Dave admired Rivaldo so much that whenever he scored a goal during our ‘World Cup’ (we had a rusty metal tea cup as our world cup trophy!) he ran all over the home with his shirt covering his face just as the Brazilian Rivaldo did whenever he scored.

We used to chase each other in the banana plantation as we kicked the banana trees pretending that they were our enemies. We admired the Kung-Fu masters from those Japanese films and we loved how they fought off their enemies with their special fighting styles—our favorite being the “Drunken Master” style. We pretended we were drunk and staggered as we walked like a drunkard and we threw kicks to the helpless banana trees. It was so much fun and we used to come home later from the “battle” at the banana plantation, with our feet hurting so badly!

Dave’s aunt was not kind to him. She used to beat him up for mistakes that were petty. I can’t forget the cries of pain when he was being beaten and he was always given very heavy and odd jobs to do. Despite Dave being sick (we were told that we were not supposed to be too close to him or share our food with him) I never, at any time, saw his aunt take him to hospital or see him take medicine. Even though Dave was performing well in school his parents decided to take him out of school—this I never understood. Despite all this harsh treatment he was undergoing, Dave still found the strength to make jokes and have fun. He still could play football with us and score goals with his powerful left foot that always brought our goal post down.

During my subsequent holiday visit, Dave’s health started to deteriorate, he became weak and he was always coughing so much that he even strained to breath. During this time, we were being told not to be near him and when we were seen around him we were punished. I couldn’t understand why they didn’t want us to be near him. Dave was our Hero. He was our Leader. He was our best friend and we were not asking for too much. We only wanted to be in his company. Dave died a painful death and even though his death didn’t mean much to many people, it was everything to us, his friends. Fun was no more, only memories of it.

To date, there is not one person who can convince me that it is the AIDS virus that killed Dave. Dave died as a result of the treatment he was subjected to by the people who were responsible for taking care of him—the society. If only we would all have shown real love to him, Dave would have lived long enough to see Brazil lift another World Cup. Rivaldo, his favorite player, was in the 2002 squad. What a joy that would have been for him.

We need not stigmatize our own people living with HIV: we are part of them, they are part of us and we can never live apart. They are human. We are human. We need not be inhuman to them. We  are not immune from HIV. Some are born with the virus, some cannot escape its clutches, and the rest only need to make one misguided choice and we could also be infected. Though Dave was infected with HIV, I have been affected by it up to today as I have lost one of my best friends. We are neither far from being infected with HIV nor are we far from death. We all die eventually and it doesn’t matter whether you are HIV positive or not. The best we can do is support those who are positive as they battle with the virus. They are on our team and we need to put on our “Makarapas” and prepare our ”vuvuzelas” to go to the stadium of Humanity and cheer our home team versus HIV & AIDS. Neither can the virus stand the sound of the vuvuzelas of love we are blowing, nor can it defeat our team if we all come to the stadium. And if anyone asks you why we need to do this, pause for a moment and reply… WE ALL HAVE DREAMS TO ACHIEVE, WE ALL WANT TO REACH OUR FULL POTENTIAL, WE ALL NEED EACH OTHER, WE ALL NEED TO BE APPRECIATED AS WE ARE AND WE NEED CARE FOR PEOPLE LIVING WITH HIV BECAUSE IT IS IN OUR HUMAN NATURE TO CARE FOR EACH OTHER.

The only way we can stop stigmatization of people living with HIV/AIDS is to encourage those among us who have been able to bounce back and became successful in life despite being HIV-positive to come out of hiding and dispel the fear that there is no life but death after being infected. Let them appear and be a source of inspiration to those who have tested positive and have lost hope in life. PLWHA also need role models among them and when the world will realize that life—not death!–can come out of us after testing positive, the stigma subjected to our own people living with HIV will be reduced. We can do it. We have the power to do so. It is within our reach.

 

Your coach,

Opo

Dedicated to my friends, donors and our people living with HIV/AIDS

Mar 15, 2011

Skillz Kenya HIV/AIDS program Embarks to schools

Now that the academic year has just started, the skillz Kenya gear has shifted from the community centres to the schools. Most of the schools undergoing through the program are new schools alongside few community centres whose programs are conducted during the weekend.Vijana Amani Pamoja has narrated a progress report attached to this message and we welcome you to read it..Enjoy!


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Dec 17, 2010

WORLD'S AIDS DAY

WORLD’S AIDS DAY

On Dec 1, 2010 VAP in conjunction with Sports Connect a youth soccer organization based in Eastlands organized a soccer camp for under:14,18 and 20.The event was held at  Buru Buru sports ground and VAP were at hand to conduct HIV/AIDS Skillz program. Amongst the Skillz conducted were: Find the ball, Risk field and Pressure limbo. These activities allow youth to explore issues relating to HIV/AIDS and gain necessary skills that lead to healthy lives. The skills are flavoured with critical thinking, communication, self-esteem and decision making amongst others.

ALL SYSTEMS GO FOR COMMUNITY CENTRES

After much concentration of delivering Skillz programs in schools, it’s now time to shift the gears and focus solely on community centres now that schools have closed for the festive holidays. With fresh information from the recent training of

coaches’ course, VAP  is working with 5 new youth centres: sports connect, Mbotela foundation, shelter of hope, Madiwa city and Buru Buru sports academy as other  community centres are just on the verge of their graduations.

VAP COACH GRADUATES AND LANDS ANOTHER SCHOLARSHIP TO PERSUE HER DEGREE COURSE AT UNITED STATES INTERNATIONAL UNIVERSITY (USIU)

Through the sponsorship from For-Granted Inc one of VAP’s partners, Linda Kafwe a VAP coach has just graduated with a Diploma in catering from Unity College of professional studies. Linda Kafwa has been an excellent student who has been giving back her unwavering support and services to the community through VAP. Additionally, her tremendous college performance has earned her scholarship to pursue her degree course at United States International University (USIU).

The other For-Granted scholarship beneficiaries: Edwin Ochieng and David Oduor who are also VAP peer educators are still pursuing their journalism courses at East African school of Media Studies. The two have been so instrumental too and have been taking pivotal responsibilities within VAP including: newsletter development, video-shooting and photos. “Am so much grateful to all the donors who have been supporting VAP’s movement because it’s through my involvement as a peer educator for VAP that I have managed to achieve my dreams. Am also proud to continue serving our community through VAP.” Said Linda Kafwa. On behalf of Vijana Amani Pamoja,we would like to wish all of you who have been donating to our project a HAPPY NEW YEAR! .


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Nov 28, 2010

Curriculum Development Workshop

Informed by years of field experience and technical expertise in curriculum design, GRS in collaboration with Vijana Amani Pamoja, VAP commenced the development of a Skillz Kenya curriculum (a Kenya-specific version of Grassroot Soccer's youth focused evidence based HIV prevention curriculum).The workshop was held in Nairobi from September 15-17, at Bahati PCEA Church in Eastlands, Nairobi and was facilitated by GRS Staff member Taylor Downs.

GRS and VAP invited staff from several like-minded organizations e.g. MYSA, Carolina For Kibera, WISER, HIV-FREE Generation, coaches and teachers who are vastly experienced in curriculum development, youth HIV prevention programming and youth education to participate in creating Skillz Kenya, and were proactively working to gather inputs from kids (direct beneficiaries), community volunteers,, community education, mobilization specifics), and patner organization (experts on Kenyan context and local HIV prevention response) GRS/VAP led the workship team through a critical analysis of the current skills curriculum and work to tailor the guide to Kenyan context and Curriculum and national HIV/AIDS response mandates  

EGMONT TRUST THROWS A SPANNER INTO VAP’S WORK

Through VAP’s long time partner GRS VAP has received a small grant to scale up its HIV/AIDS intervention programs. The Egmont trust combines professionals from the London and New York financial sectors with HIV/AIDS pioneers who have been addressing the negative effects of  disease for a combined 50 plus years. The one year funding scheduled to begin in November 2010 is estimated to reach out to 1,200 participants who will be empowered with HIV/AIDS awareness information through the new skill program. Through the grant support from Egmont trust, Grassroot soccer conducted a 5 day training of coaches for 20 VAP coaches. The training was also in line with new Skillz Kenya curriculum that was in the developing process since September 13.The new curriculum has more of a Kenyan face and context as well as national HIV/AIDS response mandate.

VAP OPENS A NEW OFFICE

On 10th Nov 2010, VAP experienced a new dawn by officially opening a new ground office that is located right in the centre of Kiambiu slums. The 2 room office that also consists of a small resource room will easen and facilitate VAP’s programs hence reaching out its community adequately. The office was officially opened by Leah Dozier, Grassrootsoccer’

s Director of Global operations and witnessed by VAP’s coaches.

GRADUATIONS

 

VAP has for the lsat few months graduated 1320 students from: kings shool,Ngei school,homeless Kenya team and Goodhope school.

 

VOLUNTEER’S EXPERIENCE

 

The Global Education Network of Young Europeans (GLEN) in partnership with VAP managed to send two student volunteers to do internship with VAP for a period of three months commencing on July 6th 2010 to 6th October 2010.The two: Edgar Lipping from Estonia and Lucas Klaus from Germany have been helping out in various disciplines e.g. monitoring and evaluation, editing and curriculum development.

       

Sep 21, 2010

SKILLZ KENYA CURRICULUM DEVELOPMENT WORKSHOP

Informed by years of field experience and technical expertise in curriculum design, GRS in collaboration with Vijana Amani Pamoja, VAP commenced the development of a Skillz Kenya curriculum (a Kenya-specific version of Grassroot Soccer's youth focused evidence based HIV prevention curriculum).The workshop was held in Nairobi from September 15-17, at Bahati PCEA Church in Eastlands, Nairobi and was facilitated by GRS Staff member Taylor Downs.

GRS and VAP invited staff from several like-minded organizations e.g. MYSA, Carolina For Kibera, WISER, HIV-FREE Generation, coaches and teachers who are vastly experienced in curriculum development, youth HIV prevention programming and youth education to participate in creating Skillz Kenya, and were proactively working to gather input from kids (direct beneficiaries), community volunteers (community education/mobilization specialists), and partner organizations (experts on Kenyan context and local HIV prevention response). During this 3-day workshop, GRS and VAP led the workshop team through a critical analysis of the current Skillz curriculum and work to tailor the guide to Kenyan context and national HIV/AIDS response mandates.”The workshop has been so intense and informative. The new curriculum will have a direct Kenyan context that is suitable and customized for the Kenyan youth. I can’t wait to use the new curriculum come November, 2010 and use it with the youth.”Said Eligious Basil, VAP’s peer educator. VOLUNTEERS’S EXPERIENCE The Global Education Network of Young Europeans (GLEN) in partnership with VAP managed to send two student volunteers to do internship with VAP for a period of three months commencing on July 6th 2010 to 6th October 2010. The two: Edgar Lipping from Estonia and Lucas Klaus from Germany have been helping out in various disciplines eg.monitoring and evaluation, editing and curriculum development.”It has been so amazing to see how VAP is using the power of soccer to change the lives of young people, my firsthand experience has really been so great to me as well and I have learned a lot. Programs like VAP need more partners and funding to able to reach a larger scale of youth who need this unique kind of services.” Said Edgar Lipping.


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Project Leader

Nancy Waweru

Founder
Nairobi, Kenya

Where is this project located?

Kenya   Sport
Map of Using the power of soccer to fight HIV/AIDS