These are not words that I use very often, and it’s certainly not what most CWB volunteers expect to be a key part of the sessions that are delivered in primary schools.
Being a previous volunteer, I offered to lead some of the sessions focussing on health messaging – a chance to go a bit deeper than the ABC&T integrated into the cricket coaching sessions. Using the new material produced by Avert, the time I had with the children was useful to ask some more difficult questions – questions that most children (and some adults) would find toe-curlingly embarrassing.
What worries you about HIV testing? What advice would you give a friend who thought they were HIV positive? These are not straightforward questions and as well as encouraging children to think more freely themselves it gave them a chance to voice their own fears away from teachers and parents who are reluctant to raise these subjects. Shame, family exclusion and fear of death are all high on the lists of worries about HIV – revealing that the stigma is still real and emphasising the importance of our inclusive cricket sessions. Getting tested and seeking treatment proved to be the top advice that the young people I spoke to would offer to their friends – it seems as if the messages that we share in our session are being listened to.
Talking with one of our coaches, he shared that there is a rise in HIV rates in Kenya because of the cultural stigma that exists around the disease. There is a reluctance of teachers and parents to talk about HIV, how it gets spread and how you can protect yourself.
This makes me feel that the integrated learning in our cricket sessions is growing in importance. Let’s play cricket, but also let’s talk about sex.