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South Africa

Cricket stars raise awareness about HIV in South Africa

© UNICEF South Africa/2009/Ingham-Brown
Lasith Malinga, a star player on the Sri Lanka Champions Trophy cricket team, gives a mini-bowling clinic to a group of children in the UNICEF-supported ECHO adolescent development programme in Katlehong Township, South Africa.

JOHANNESBURG, South Africa, 13 October 2009 – Famed Sri Lankan cricketers Kumar Sangakkara, Angelo Mathews, Chamara Kapugedera and Lasith Malinga recently visited young people living with HIV at the WITSECHO Adolescent Sprint Holiday Programme near Johannesburg, South Africa.

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The visit took place at the Katlehong Art Centre. It was organized in collaboration with ECHO – a local UNICEF partner that helps provide anti-retroviral therapy for some 10,000 South African children – and with the THINK WISE global partnership between the International Cricket Council (ICC), UNAIDS, UNICEF and the Global Media AIDS Initiative.

The THINK WISE partnership works to educate cricket players, coaches, commentators, broadcasters, volunteers and spectators about the AIDS epidemic and HIV prevention.

Raising awareness
Following a spirited fielding session, the cricketers heard from the staff and young people at the youth programme about the work it does to help adolescents develop life skills. The programme trains peer educators to encourage HIV prevention by building the self-esteem and confidence of other young people – and thereby help them make responsible choices.

Most of the children in attendance had contracted HIV from their mothers, who either did not know that they were HIV-positive when they were pregnant or did not have access to treatment that could have prevented them from transmitting the virus to their children.

© UNICEF South Africa/2009/Ingham-Brown
Sri Lanka captain Kumar Sangakkara chats with children in Katlehong Township.

“It is fantastic to be here today to see firsthand the work that local partners carry out to tackle HIV,” Mr. Sangakkara said, speaking as an ambassador of THINK WISE and the cricketing community. “The work that this programme does has a real impact on the life of these young people and gives me great hope,” he added.

Protection, respect and fairness
“I hope that young people living with HIV can grow up without discrimination and can lead fruitful lives,” said Mr. Mathews. “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.”

The goals of THINK WISE include encouraging youths to protect themselves and others, and to show respect and fairness to people living with HIV.

“Protection, respect and fairness – these are all values which cricketers easily relate to in our own sport,” said Mr. Malinga.




Sri Lankan cricketer Kumar Sangakkara speaks about the THINK WISE initiative while visiting young people living with HIV near Johannesburg, South Africa.
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