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June 14, 2010

Cameroon and the Condom Orchestra

By Cynara Vetch

Last night we were treated to some music by the Condom Orchestra. We were back in Nairobi for our last Kenya match. We linked up with AMREF, the African Medical Research Foundation who run a project for disadvantaged and street living children in Dagoretti slum.

AMREF set up an entertainment bonanza of music, singing, comedy and quizzes. The children put on some incredible skits, the “Condom Orchestra” was made up of a conductor and 8 musicians playing blown up condoms. I chatted to the conductor Wyclef Juma, he’s passionate about drama and explained that “in my culture it was very funny for people to even see someone open a condom and hold one. Sometimes young people use their teeth or a knife to open them and they break. This theatre teaches them how to use them.”

One of our primary sponsors, the Candian government, was represented by Richard Le Bars the acting High Comissioner  from Canada who came to check out the action. It was great to have him there and we heard how Canada is supporting the link between sport and development.

Wyclef has been visiting the AMREF project since 2001, he was brought up by his aunt who couldn’t  support him. Wycleff told me that “Football helps other children. When I was with my friends in the street we played, for me football is very good for people to encourage them, to help them, they can forget about their troubles.” Manchester United is his team but he’s cheering on Germany in the World Cup.

We’ve found the last four matches that Kenyans talk about the international favourites as those they are supporting but when it comes to screenings they back the African teams all the way. Any goal for Africa is met with twice the applause and excitement and Cameroon was supported with wild enthusiasm last night.

AMREF’s Country Director for Kenya, Ms Mette Kjaer, why AMREF was keen to link up with our screening.

“Football is an extremely strong way to disseminate information to people. It’s so strong because in such communities…football is what makes them no different from anyone else.” She said

She was confident that the screening would have an impact, explaining that

“Events like this don’t change behaviour on the spot, but it keeps HIV on the agenda, they’ll keep talking about it. When they talk about this afternoon, they won’t only talk about the football match, they’ll talk about the drama sketch, the songs. In that way they’ll share, they’ll discuss and challenge each other. This is how people’s behaviour can be changed.” she told me.

That was our last screening in Kenya, tomorrow we cross the border and begin our screenings in Tanzania

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