Sri Lankan Cricketers show support for children and young people living with HIV in South Africa
Famed Sri Lanka cricketers including Kumar Sangakkara, Angelo Mathews, Chamara Kapugedera and Lasith Malinga visited with young people affected by HIV at the WITSECHO Adolescent Sprint Holiday Progamme at the Katlehong Art Centre near Johannesburg, South Africa. As a UNICEF supported initiative, this visit was organized through the THINK WISE partnership and in collaboration with ECHO, a local partner for UNICEF which serves more than 11,000 South African children and their families and helps to provide approximately 10,000 children with anti-retroviral therapy.
Following a fun fielding session at the start of the visit, the cricketers heard from the programme directors and youngsters about the important work that the clinic carries out to allow adolescents to develop important life skills.
During the visit Sangakkara said: “As an ambassador for the ICC’s social responsibility programme THINK WISE, it is fantastic to be here today to see firsthand the work that local partners carry out to tackle HIV. The work that this programme does has a real impact on the life of these young people and gives me great hope that by continuing to raise awareness and reducing the stigma associated with HIV, cricket will continue to play its role in helping to reduce HIV infections,” he said.
“I hope that young people living with HIV can grow up without discrimination and can lead fruitful lives. The young people I have met today are an inspiration and I hope more people across the world will be able to make informed decisions as they grow up,” said Mathews.
Malinga added: “Protection, respect and fairness – these are all values which cricketers easily relate to in our own sport. We can all do our bit in everyday life to use the values to make informed decisions so that we can all live better lives and help to address the HIV epidemic.”
Most of the children at the clinics contracted HIV from their mothers who either did not know they were HIV positive when they were pregnant or did not have access to the treatment which would have prevented them from transmitting the virus to their children. The ECHO youth holiday programme helps develop the capacity of adolescents to implement a peer education programme which encourages HIV prevention focusing on building self-esteem and confidence in young people to promote responsible choices within sexual relationships.
THINK WISE is a global partnership between the International Cricket Council, UNAIDS, UNICEF and the Global Media AIDS Initiative. THINK WISE encourages people to protect themselves and others and show respect and fairness to people living with HIV.
About THINK WISE:
The THINK WISE initiative builds on a long standing partnership between the ICC, the joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS), United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) and the Global Media AIDS Initiative (GMAI), that for more than five years has reached out to the cricketing community to work together to respond to global AIDS crisis.
By working with some of the game’s top players, the THINK WISE partnership aims to: