Editor’s Note: Here’s another great post from our friends over at SOS Children’s Villages. This one tells us about Brothers for Life, a campaign just launched in South Africa to coincide with this year’s FIFA World Cup. (And in case you live in a cave — or are just not a sports geek, like myself — and don’t know, this year’s World Cup is being held in South Africa.) Athletes have joined the campaign to help raise awareness about HIV prevention and discourage violence towards women.
By Kyna Rubin
Top sports players from South Africa and elsewhere are joining forces to prevent HIV and violence against South African women and children. The campaign, called Brothers for Life, has kicked off just in time for the FIFA 2010 World Cup, taking place in South Africa this year.
Thousands of soccer fans from around the world are expected to flock into the country. In light of the drinking and sex that is likely to occur, “we want to encourage people to be safe,” Dean Peacock, co-director of Sonke Gender Justice, told the IRIN news service.
The group is one of 40 civil society organizations sponsoring the campaign together with the South African National AIDS Council, South Africa’s Department of Health, Johns Hopkins Health and Education in South Africa, and the UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF).
The effort targets men, who are considered a neglected demographic in the nation’s struggle to prevent HIV/AIDS. The HIV infection rate among South African men, age 25 to 49, is more than double that of the national average — 24 percent versus 11 percent, according to a 2009 survey by South Africa’s Human Sciences Research Council.
Getting a Positive Message to Men in Their Prime
Among the sports ambassadors for the Brothers for Life campaign are South African soccer players Matthew Booth and Teko Modise, rugby captain John Smit, and cricket captain Graeme Smith. Soccer stars Ryan Giggs of Manchester United and Lionel Messi of FC Barcelona have also signed on to help.
The sports stars will deliver messages on television and radio about the risks of drinking and having unprotected sex. They will also support a nationwide drive to counsel and test for HIV, an initiative launched in April by South Africa President Jacob Zuma.
Doing the Right Thing for Children and Families
The motto of the Brothers for Life effort is for men to “Do the right thing” — not only during the World Cup, but for years to come.
Another group working to do the right thing for children and families in South Africa is SOS Children’s Villages. SOS raises children who have lost parental care due to AIDS, poverty or other causes. In South Africa since 1982, SOS runs eight Children’s Villages and provides HIV-prevention counseling to vulnerable families. Former President Nelson Mandela and Archbishop Desmond Tutu are longtime advocates of SOS-South Africa.
Learn more about SOS Children’s Villages.
photo credit: thanks to tpower1978 for the amazing shot of messi