UNITE FOR CHILDREN

Bangladesh

New campaign in Bangladesh raises HIV awareness through the power of cricket

By Mervyn Fletcher

DHAKA, Bangladesh, 22 February 2011 – It is the final of the girls’ cricket tournament in Bangladesh. Demanding high levels of fitness, co-ordination and self-discipline, this trophy has been fiercely contested by teams from across this highly-populated country.

VIDEO: 17 February 2011: UNICEF Sri Lanka Chief of Communications Mervyn Fletcher reports on the THINKWISE campaign: a partnership between the International Cricket Council, UNICEF, UNAIDS and the Global Media Initiative to promote HIV awareness among young people through cricket. Watch in RealPlayer

Here in Bangladesh, however, the buzz is not only about cricket.  A new campaign, known as THINKWISE, is drawing upon the extraordinary power of the game to tackle AIDS issues.

Aiming to educate tournament spectators on the nature of HIV and how to prevent new infections, information has been woven into match commentaries and pink t-shirts adorned with the slogan “Be aware, save yourself” have been distributed to cricket fans throughout the competition.

UNICEF Image
© UNICEF Bangladesh/2011/Mojumder
A cricketer from national championship winning team, Joypurhat Girl Cricket Team, pins a ThinkWise campaign ribbon for her team-mate at Fatullah cricket stadium on 15th February, 2011.

It seems the initiative is already making its intended impact on the tournament attendees.

When asked how HIV is spread, a young spectator named Runa stated confidently: “I now know how AIDS isn’t transmitted. You are not infected with HIV by sharing a meal with an infected person, or bathing or socialising with them.”

Legacy of awareness

THINKWISE is a partnership between the International Cricket Council, UNICEF, UNAIDS and the Global Media AIDS Initiative. Some of cricket’s biggest names are playing a leading role in the campaign, including international cricketing stars Virender Sehwag, of India, and Sri Lankan team captain Kumar Sangakkara. 

Cricket attracts hundreds of millions of avid followers worldwide, but no more so than in south Asia, where no opportunity is missed to indulge in the passion.

UNICEF Image
© UNICEF Bangladesh/2011/Mojumder
A cricketer from winning team Joypurhat Girl Cricket Team bats in the practice nets at Fatullah cricket stadium on 15th February, 2011.

“As cricketers we have social responsibilities. We want to leave behind a legacy of social awareness of HIV and AIDS,” said Shakib Al Hasan, the Bangladesh cricket team captain and THINKWISE supporter.

Armed with knowledge

The THINKWISE campaign uses the red ribbon emblem to signify support and cricket teams will wear red ribbons on their shirts in key matches during the competition.

UNICEF country offices in Bangladesh, India and Sri Lanka have organised children’s cricketing activities around the 2011 Cricket World Cup in order to bring HIV/AIDS knowledge to a wider audience.

The hope is that more young people will be armed with the knowledge that will continue to reverse the global spread of HIV.


 

 

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