During my recent visit to Swaziland (February 2012) I was told that Swaziland has the highest rate of AIDS/HIV in the the world at some 42% of the population being affected by either AIDS or HIV! The locals say that their position at No. 1 might be somewhat misleading as Swaziland is a relatively small country where there are good statistics available whilst other countries might not know the real amount of people affected and therefore might be even higher! One thing is for certain – there is a whole generation of parents missing, a multitude of orphans resultant and an urgent need to address this serious problem.
Skrum, the rugby charity based in Swaziland, has taken it on board to try and educate the children of Swaziland about the facts about AIDS/HIV. The Skrum rugby coaches travel around the country coaching rugby to the primary school and secondary school children and also to the community at large during the school holidays. Their slogan is “Pass The Ball, Not The Virus” and the children all chant this slogan while they are practising their rugby drills. Skrum hands out to all the children a pamplet about AIDS, how you catch it and also giving lots of help numbers the children can ring should need help with health matters, domestic violence, etc.
Naomi du Pont, one of Skrum’s coaches, makes it a point to talk frankly to all her pupils about AIDS and one of the things she advises the teenagers is always to have a condom with them – in fact she has called a condom a “just in case” and they all know that they can direct message her on Facebook about any personal problem and she will advise them and counsell them discretely. Most of the older children have mobile phones and use the free Facebook app to learn not just when Skrum are coming to their school for the rugby coaching session, but also to speak personally to Naomi about personal matters.
Naomi is a national character and wherever we go people great her with hugs and smiles. Either she has taught them rugby in the past, or they have seen her on t.v. where she has been taking about Skrum and its work teaching rugby to the children and teachers of Swaziland and Skrum‘s important role in AIDS education.
Whilst I was there, I saw advertisements in a national paper and on the side of a bus with the message that if you get circumsized, you will be protected against AIDS! I can’t believe that such misinformation is being propagated to the nation by the Government bodies in the hope that is will stop AIDS! This is why Skrum is doing such a marvellous job – educating the children of Swaziland about how you really catch AIDS.
If anyone would like to donate to this worthwhile charity, you can do so via the link below:
My fundraising page address:
Volunteer Vacations is the official volunteer provider for Skrum and we have vacancies for rugby coaching placements for 28 days minimum. Price of £1,600 includes airport/coach stop transfers, accommodation at Sondzelas Backpackers, Mlilwane National Park, lunch from the Skrum office, transport to rugby coaching placements, Level 1 rugby coaching course and certificate, local sim card. Additional weeks £200. We also need personal trainers to help our rugby players develop their general fitness and educate them about the importance of diet.