|South African cricket team fielding coach Jonty Rhodes (left) and wicketkeeper AB de Villiers (centre) watch a young cricketer hit. The cricket team visited the Dorothy Bailey Health Centre in Georgetown, Guyana.|
By Stuart Sutton-Jones
GEORGETOWN, Guyana, 2 April 2007 – "Every wicket counts in cricket and it's the same with the fight against HIV and AIDS. Everybody's contribution makes a difference," said UNAIDS Country Coordinator for Guyana and Suriname, Dr. Ruben del Prado. He spoke during a visit by members of the South African cricket team to the Dorothy Bailey Health Centre in Georgetown.
After their close victory over Sri Lanka in the Super 8 stage of the ICC Cricket World Cup 2007, the South African team decided to take some time off and show their support for the health centre and its initiatives for youth living with HIV, the first of its kind in Guyana.
Using teamwork to defeat AIDS
Led by Minister of Health Dr. Leslie Ramsammy, UNICEF Guyana Representative Johannes Wedenig and Dr. del Prado, the cricket team was escorted into a crowded hall full of schoolchildren and other guests. Under banners calling people to Unite for Children Unite against AIDS, two local schoolchildren, Murisa and Darren, welcomed everyone and spoke of the need to fight against the spread of the HIV virus.
Dr. Ramsammy told the assembly that HIV and AIDS was a global problem. “We are all in this together and AIDS can only be beaten if we work as a team,” he remarked.
|Saud, a Guyanese student, ties a Band of Commitment on the wrist of Jonty Rhodes, the South African cricket team’s fielding coach at the Dorothy Bailey Health Centre in Georgetown, Guyana.|
Mr. Wedenig said it was heartening to see the peoples of South Africa and Guyana joining hands in a common cause. “Knowledge is power,” said Mr. Wedenig. “By empowering children with knowledge to protect themselves, we can win.”
Kids must realize their dreams
Speaking on behalf of the South African cricket players, the team’s fielding coach Jonty Rhodes said that as well-known sportsmen they had the opportunity to highlight problems facing society. South Africa had a high incidence of HIV, he added, so the national cricket team was committed to doing all they could to raise awareness about HIV and fight the stigma and discrimination that surround it.
In a solemn moment, Mr. Rhodes and a Guyanese student, Saud, tied Bands of Commitment on each other’s wrists, as all present swore to protect themselves and each other against HIV.
South African star bowler, Shaun Pollock, spoke of his three-year-old daughter, “She has dreams just like other kids,” he said. “I need to make sure that she can realize her dreams.”
After the formal ceremony, the visitors toured Dorothy Bailey Health Centre before everyone went outside to play cricket. On a bumpy grass-and-sand wicket next to the centre, Mr. Pollock lobbed soft balls to Minister of Health Dr. Ramsammy, who played a secure, straight bat before being caught in the slips.
The visit was organized by the partnership between the International Cricket Council (ICC), UNAIDS, UNICEF and the Caribbean Broadcast Media Partnership on HIV/AIDS, to highlight the situation of children and young people living with and affected by HIV and AIDS.
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