5.8 Million HIV Infected
“Lungi is a strong character because she grew up without parents. She knows her background; she is willing to go past her background. That’s a great success,” says Siyavuya. “The programme has taught her that there are always parents around you, even if they are not your own.” Bouncing back and staying strong as well as respecting others are key lessons for the children.
Near the Isaac Booi School is the Dora Nginza Hospital, a large complex at the edge of Zwide township. Dr Mlulami Mabandla is the Chief Medical Officer at the Children’s Clinic at Dora Nginza, the province’s leading clinic in the supply of antiretrovirals (ARV). Mabandla sees between 30 and 40 HIV-positive children a day, on average. He is encouraged by the progress the clinic has made. “We currently manage to get most of the people who need ARVs onto them. Prevention is what we are behind in.” For him, the success of Grassroot Soccer lies in its action-driven curriculum. “Children don’t like to be dictated to. They respond better to an informal situation, where the education is brought about as a game.” And while the country is gearing up for the FIFA World Cup™ in 2010, Kirk, Siyavuya and the rest of the Grassroot Soccer team are working towards sharing their football-based curriculum with more organisations, to reach as many children as they can.
In a 2006 study on the demographic impact of HIV/AIDS in South Africa, the Cape Town Centre for Actuarial Research projected that the number of people infected with HIV in 2010 would reach just over 5.8 million, out of an estimated population of 49 million people. As little Lungi says: “There are things you can choose and things you can avoid” and football is helping young South Africans make the right choices.