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June 13, 2010

Sotik Match

By Cynara Vetch

Today’s match was held in the emerald green tea country of Sotik.

The screening began smoothly with a talk by the Sotik Tea Company’s Clinical Officer about the HIV virus. However when the General Manager of the Estate stepped up to make a speech, a huge gust of wind swept the 3.5 metre high screen shade off its feet, metal poles and canvas sheeting went flying across the school field.

Finally the team  captured it, got it resurrected and all was well until Argentina scored. As the ball hit the back of the net the rain arrived and the situation got complicated. The water left the audience huddling under canvas and porches and then the screen went blank.

The electrical storm had caused the interference and we needed to wait for it to move on before we’d have a chance for any further transmission. I spent the time talking to people from the area. Doreen Kituku is the Chair Person of the HIV and AIDS and and Child Welfare Committee she and her team go out onto the estate as the farm workers are cutting and weighing their tea. Whilst the men and women harvest the leaves, the peer educators talk to them about the virus and ways that they can protect themselves. The committee was set up when the farm managers and the two farm dispensaries learnt of an alarming number of sick days amongst their pickers. Investigation found that it was all too often because of HIV and HIV related diseases.

A group of young guys had explained earlier that they’d only come for the football and weren’t interested in the HIV education. I asked Doreen about this, she told me “When we are having our meetings these young men don’t come. The women are more accommodating, the men feel like they don’t want to waste their time”. The screening was an opportunity to address these young guys and the crowd was filled with them, around 500 people attended the match and the majority were men.

Phillip Sambu is the Assistant Chief of Monire, a sub location in Sotik District. He is a keen football fan and would have been watching the game from the comfort of his home but he has personal reasons for supporting the AIDS projects on the farm. A few years ago his stepbrother and his stepbrother’s wife died from the disease leaving behind eight children. Phillip found homes for all the children and took in three himself, he now struggles to meet their school fees along with those of his offspring. He was happy about the screening saying

“In your coming the men can see that it is not us the committee alone that speak out about HIV. They will see that their visitors are also involved in the fight and that it is a serious issue, which spreads all the way down to places like Zimbabwe.”

The storm moved on, the screening resumed and the audience watched with rapt attention. Nigeria were the undoubted favourites although Argentina’s goal got a polite applause.

We packed up slipping and sliding in the thick mud and then headed back for hot cups of tea.

Tomorrow we head to Lake Baringo.

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