South Africa

Manchester United footballers partner with UNICEF during visit to South Africa

UNICEF Image: Manchester United, South Africa Ryan Giggs
© UNICEF UK/2008/ Schermbrucker
Manchester United Players Chris Eagles (second from left) and UNICEF UK Ambassador Ryan Giggs (far right) join children in a lively workshop aimed at tackling HIV in South Africa.

CAPE TOWN, South Africa, 22 July 2008 – UNICEF UK Ambassador and Manchester United star Ryan Giggs took time out from the football club’s pre-season tour of South Africa this past Sunday to learn about the impact of HIV/AIDS and violence on the country’s children and young people.

The visit was one of several that the club’s players will undertake while on tour as part of the nine-year ‘United for UNICEF’ partnership between Manchester United and UNICEF.

The visit enabled Mr. Giggs and his teammate, Chris Eagles, to witness the work that has been funded by the partnership, which has raised over $4 million to date and helped 1.5 million children worldwide.

Visit to ‘Gender Justice’ programme

The players visited the UNICEF-backed ‘Sonke Gender Justice’ programme in Gugulethu township. The initiative aims to tackle violence – a major cause of new HIV infections – though education.

Mr. Giggs and Mr. Eagles spent the afternoon with a group of young people while taking part in a lively classroom workshop exploring the attitudes and behaviours that can lead to HIV transmission.
 
They also talked with a young man living with HIV about his personal experiences, the effect on his families and his role in educating others.

Tackling HIV with education

HIV and AIDS are having a devastating effect on children in South Africa and continue to be among the biggest challenges facing the country today.

Approximately 5.5 million South Africans are living with HIV. Over 240,000 of those are young people under the age of 15, and 1.2 million children have been orphaned as a result of AIDS.

Violence and abuse towards young women and children play a key role in perpetuating the spread of HIV. Children who have themselves lost one or both parents as a result of AIDS-related illnesses are among the most vulnerable.

A continued commitment

Sunday’s visit highlights the Manchester club’s continuing commitment to UNICEF’s Unite for Children, Unite Against AIDS campaign.

Last summer, while on tour with Manchester United in China, Mr. Giggs, Rio Ferdinand and Dong Fangzhou took time to meet with children affected by the stigma associated with AIDS. In June 2008, Mr. Giggs, Mr. Ferdinand and Patrice Evra fronted a pioneering AIDS-prevention campaign aimed at young people in Sierra Leone.

By challenging unhealthy behaviours and encouraging greater respect for women, UNICEF and Manchester United are working to give young people the knowledge they need to stem the spread of HIV.


 

 

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