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June 11, 2010

1

The Opening Game

By Cynara Vetch

 The World Cup opened for us in Mbita in Western Kenya. With a view of the vast Lake Victoria in the background we set up our screen under a blazing sun. The whole event was staged in a football pitch in town.

 We partnered with a group of different NGOs who work to tackle HIV/AIDS issues in the district. Mr Okomo the District Aids and STI Coordinator of Mbita helped draw all the organisations together, he was excited by how everything came together.

According to Mr Okomo HIV and AIDs education is so important in the area because “We have one of the highest prevalence rates in the country.” The lake is a blessing and a curse, Mr Okomo explained that, “The community is blessed by being rich in fish but this has also caused problems. Its about poverty, the fisherman are relatively rich in this poor area and they take advantage of others that don’t have this wealth. They demand sex for fish.” He also told us that the culture in the region, means that  “we have stayed in denial for a long time and this has allowed the disease to spread.” But things are getting better, thanks to education efforts in the town, the HIV prevalence has dropped from 41% of the population to 26%.

We linked up with the NGOs for a big quiz on HIV and AIDS issues. Dom represented us, giving out Africa Goal prizes and wowing the crowds with his vuvuzela (crazy South African trumpet) skills. We were very impressed with everyone’s knowledge of HIV issues.  The school children were particularly well informed, they came out with some biological facts that we would have struggled to use.

The kids were just as excited about the opening ceremony and the adverts as the game itself. I spoke to seven year old boy, with the fantastic name of Tony Blair. He had recited some poetry for us earlier and was a big football fan. Although I think he was slightly confused about the World Cup, when asked who he wanted to win he was adamant about his choice “Chelsea should get the cup” he told me.

Everyone erupted with South Africa’s goal and there was a real buzz in the air with the idea of the team winning the first game of the tournament. There was a much more subdued reaction to Mexico’s score, but all in all by the end of the match the 200 strong crowd dispersed into the night satisfied, with their Africa Goal evening. We broke down the equipment in the dark amidst a swarm of lake flies and headed for a huge dinner.

Next we travel to Sotik, deep in Kenya’s tea country, so an early start tomorrow.

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1 Comment Post a comment
  1. Beatriz Fernandez
    Jun 14 2010

    AWESOME! Well written, a lot of fun to read. Keep it up, sounds the children know more about HIV-AIDs than the world cup participating countries, maybe you can do a fun game about the subject…..

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