Charity Auction – Girls’ Soccer and HIV in Kwazulu-Natal

A few months ago, we at GirlsontheBall decided that we wanted to start raising money for a great cause. A few of you know, most of you don’t, that I work for the British Red Cross. In particular, I am involved in our HIV and TB project in Kwa Zulu Natal, South Africa.

Newcastle Female Soccer Match

A bit about the programme

South Africa is home to the world’s largest population of people living with HIV. In 2011, 5.6 million of the country’s inhabitants were HIV positive. The HIV infection rate in Kwa-Zulu Natal (KZN) is higher than anywhere else in the country. It is hard to find someone in KZN whose life has not been affected by HIV.

Since 2007, the Red Cross, in partnership with the South African Red Cross, has been working in six projects sites across KZN to increase resilience to HIV and reduce the vulnerability of individuals and communities. The programme particularly focuses on supporting orphans and vulnerable children (OVC). The Red Cross helps these children and their families to access treatment and heal the psychological scars their experiences have caused. We also try to build a future for these children by ensuring that they can continue their education and receive the financial assistance they are entitled to.

Since the programme’s inception in 2007, massive steps have been taken in leading the fight against HIV and TB resulting in directly helping 75,000 adults and children. There is no doubt that the Programme has seen positive changes in the lives of orphans and vulnerable children and we have many success stories. But there is still so much to do.

What we’re supporting

Children make up one of the most vulnerable and worst affected groups in the fight against HIV. Children affected by HIV are often denied the chance of an education. Families may be unable to send their children to school as they cannot afford school fees or transport costs. Many children, particularly girls, have to remain at home to care for sick relatives.

Newcastle Female Soccer Match 4

A massive part of the programme in Kwazulu Natal is peer education. Our approach to changing attitudes and behaviour is tailored for young people and we use their peers to engage with them. We have found that young people are often far more open to engaging with potentially difficult issues, such as sexual health, if those issues are addressed in an enjoyable, informal and dynamic way.

The South African Red Cross uses football as one a way of educating children about HIV and life choices. Girls’ football is growing in South Africa. Since the beginning of Banyana Banayna, the national women’s team, in 1993, more and more girls have become involved in the game.

When I was there in October, the peer educators took me to see a match between the local Red Cross girls’ team and a local school. They were playing on a sandy, stony pitch and there weren’t enough boots to go around but they were incredibly good and enjoyed every minute of their time on the pitch.

Newcastle Female Soccer Match 19

So Rachel and I decided it would be amazing if we could if we could start to raise some money to go straight to these girls and others like them to enable to take part in a sport they love and learn important lessons along the way. All the funds we raise are matched by 50% – i.e. for every £1 we raise, 50p gets added on – making the reach of any donation even greater. We have items from signed shirts to balls and signed photos. Bidding will be open until close of play on midnight on Saturday 23rd November. By that point in time, we hope to be sending as much money as possible along with 30 footballs kindly donated by Continental UK to the project. Every little seriously helps to change these children’s lives. Thank you!

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