The 2012 Alive & Kicking Zambia Roadshow aimed to raise awareness of HIV/AIDS in communities across the Copperbelt region of Zambia. The region has the second highest prevalence rate of HIV/AIDS outside Lusaka and it is the most populated of Zambia’s nine provinces. Working together with TackleAfrica, New Start and a number of local organisations, Alive & Kicking built an experienced team to ensure that the project was a success.
Using the power of sport, the Roadshow team planned to run a number of initiatives to engage and empower young people across communities. The targeted outcomes of the programme were:
- Raise awareness of HIV/AIDS related issues and combat stigma associated with HIV/AIDS
- Provide an opportunity for people to find out their HIV/AIDS status and get help if needed
- Help young people to make healthy life choices
- Enhance local educators’ capacity to promote life skills for adopting and maintaining healthy behaviours
- Provide the opportunity for children to take part in organised sporting activities
- Provide schools with the equipment necessary to continue to provide access to sport for their students
The Roadshow was split into four core activities in order to ensure that these expectations were fulfilled:
- HIV/AIDS Education Training for football coaches
- Interactive Football and HIV/AIDS Education Activities for young people
- Football & Netball Tournaments
- HIV/AIDS Voluntary Counselling & Testing
The activities took place in four areas of the Copperbelt: Chililabombwe, Mufulira, Kitwe and Ndola. In each case a local partner was brought on board to help support delivery and ensure that the project mobilised and reached the right people.
- Chililabombwe Partner: Malalo Sports Foundation
- Mufulira Partner: Mufulira College of Education
- Kitwe Partner: Sky Sports United Academy
- Ndola Partner: The International HIV/AIDS Alliance/Kanshiwa OVCs
HIV/AIDS Coach Education Training
TackleAfrica, an Alive & Kicking partner, organised and implemented HIV/AIDS Education training courses for local football coaches at each Roadshow location. The charity uses football to raise awareness of HIV/AIDS giving young people across Africa the knowledge they need to help them live safe and healthy lives. They reach thousands of young people every year by partnering with African based organisations and offering in depth training to their staff. This enables local coaches, teachers and youth leaders to deliver an innovative HIV/AIDS Football curriculum in their communities all year round, adding value to existing programmes.
Picture courtesy of Malalo Sports Foundation
During the Roadshow TackleAfrica trained 85 staff members from local organisations who work with a total of 5,792 young people on a regular basis. 3,300 boys and 2,492 girls will now have access to sports based HIV/AIDS education in their community all year round.
Kebby Shampongo, the founder of Malalo Sports Foundation in Chililabombwe, was excited to have the opportunity to deliver drills in his community:
“Traditionally it has been difficult to talk about HIV although people are slowly coming out. Training courses like this have a positive impact as coaches can pass on the knowledge to children who can then share it with friends and family – Thank you for this innovative way of tackling HIV, football is like food for us, we hope to have more people trained, the demand and desire is there.”
All of the participants who attended the training courses agreed or strongly agreed that using this innovative HIV/AIDS education approach would have a positive effect on the surrounding communities.
Interactive Football and HIV/AIDS Education Activities
During the Roadshow, Alive & Kicking, with the help of TackleAfrica and the coaches that had attended the training courses, visited Copperbelt communities to work directly with young people from local schools and sports teams. This gave the Roadshow team a chance to see how well young people would receive HIV/AIDS education football activities. The football drills that were practiced with the children encouraged them to understand how HIV/AIDS is contracted, how it can be avoided, where to get tested and what to do if they contract HIV/AIDS.
During these events Alive & Kicking worked directly with 935 children and a further 1,380 children were involved in HIV/AIDS discussions during and after the activities. At each event a sample group was chosen to complete HIV/AIDS Questionnaires at the beginning and the end of each week to see if their knowledge of HIV/AIDS had improved.
Alive & Kicking was able to get responses from approximately one third of the total participants with 282 young people filling out the questionnaires. Within the sample group 99% of participants improved their scores following the activities. The average percentage of correct answers to questions before sessions was 66%, which rose to 93% after participants had completed all of the sports based HIV/AIDS education sessions.
Simon Chibashe, a participant in Masaiti, close to Ndola, thought the education approach would help young people right across Zambia:
“HIV is an issue which is not letting men and women accomplish their dreams. What I have learned here I will teach those that don’t know about HIV. When we learn this way we have fun by playing football but we also learn about important issues. Please continue with the same attitude, you are helping Zambia”
Football & Netball Tournaments
Football and netball are the two of the most popular sports in Zambia. They are played by both men and women. Following the HIV/AIDS training courses at each Roadshow location, tournaments in both of these sports were held as a closing event.
The aim of each tournament was to give local schools and teams an opportunity to participate in organised and fun sporting events with the support of the surrounding community. They also provided an opportunity for Alive & Kicking to identify and evaluate potential recipients of their footballs, ensuring that the balls were given to organisations and people that would put them to good use.
Across the four tournaments 64 netball and football teams enjoyed the friendly competition and atmosphere. In total 584 young males and 451 young females were able to compete, enjoying the support of approximately 7,000 people from local communities.
In total 800 footballs and netballs were donated to the organisations and local teams that supported both the tournaments and the HIV/AIDS training events. Ben Sadler, the TackleAfrica Project Officer, commented:
“In every case the donations have been received with great appreciation. Footballs give coaches and players the opportunity and motivation to continue doing what they love doing! Last week I joined a training session with a team of 12 players and 1 ball. Following the tournament the team were given a set of balls and I returned to find that 62 new players had signed up within a day of the donation”
Each location offered a slightly different tournament structure to suit the facilities that were available. The final standings at each event were:
Chileshe, a netball player from Pamodzi High School said that she had really enjoyed the tournament:
“Transport is a problem so we don’t have many opportunities to play other teams. It is great to play with friends and play against other girls. I hope we have more opportunities to play in tournaments like this”
HIV/AIDS Voluntary Counselling & Testing (VCT)
At each tournament New Start provided mobile VCT centres to encourage participants and the local community to find out their HIV/AIDS status. Knowing your status plays a key role in fighting the battle against HIV/AIDS, as it allows people to make informed life decisions.
Prior to the first Roadshow tournament New Start revealed that the highest number of people coming forward for testing on a single day in the Copperbelt during the past 9 months had been a total of 34. At the first event in Chililabombwe, 90 people volunteered to be tested. This was followed by 91 in Kitwe, 100 in Mufulira and 144 in Ndola. In Mufulira and Ndola New Start ran out of testing kits so the numbers could have been even higher. A breakdown of testing information can be seen below.
New Start were very pleased with the outcome, with Gastone Zunu saying:
“These are some of the highest numbers we have ever seen testing. When we attend events we are often put in the corner but here we were the centre of attention, knowing your status was the focus of each tournament. We had the full support of Alive & Kicking and the participating organisations. In many cases coaches were coming with their players and testing together which made people feel at ease”
In order to encourage people to test there were a number of strategies put in place which are detailed below including coach education, tournament advertising, and support from ZANERELA to de-stigmatise testing, and ball incentives.
During the HIV/AIDS education training courses in the build up to each tournament there was a particular focus put on the ‘knowing your status’ message. With local coaches understanding the importance of HIV/AIDS status they were able to spend time prior to the tournament spreading this information to their players and the surrounding community. Many of the coaches even tested with their players showing that a strong support network can help ease any fears.
Using a Roadshow vehicle and mobile PA system, Alive & Kicking drove around local communities playing music and giving information about each tournament. Local sports coaches kindly volunteered their time to take control of the PA system, using local languages to highlight the importance of VCTs, as well as inviting people to the tournaments. This approach drew a lot of interest, particularly from young children, who enjoyed dancing to the ‘Chipolopolo’ music.
Support from the Zambia Network of Religious Leaders Living with or Affected by HIV/AIDS (ZANERELA)
A member from ZANERELA was invited to each tournament to give information about HIV/AIDS. ZANERELA is a network of religious leaders who are happy to talk openly about their status and the issues that surround HIV/AIDS which makes them almost unique in Zambia. Church leaders are amongst the most respected members of society across Zambia, so if a church leader says that it’s ok to find out your status, it can have a big impact on communities’ willingness to do so.
Gersholm Kapalaula, a senior member of ZANERELA spent time at each event, encouraging people to test by making public speeches, as well as talking to teams and individuals on a one-on-one basis. His support was a big help in addressing the fears held by those interested in testing.
Gersholm, who has a wealth of HIV/AIDS knowledge, felt the tournaments were a great way to tackle HIV/AIDS related stigma and spread valuable information:
“I am 50 years old and come from a family of 11. Three of my family died from HIV/AIDS related issues because we were in denial. Now three of us are HIV/AIDS positive and know our status, the other five do not know their status. Sport is a great strategy to open people up, Zambia is a sport loving country and such events have a great positive impact. HIV/AIDS stigma is still strong, particularly in the rural areas where there is silence, sport can open them up”
As a means of encouraging people to test, extra balls were offered as an incentive to teams on the basis of how many of their players agreed to be tested. This strategy became significant in getting teams and people to test together. However it was important to stress that testing was voluntary. At no point did Alive & Kinking want a situation where players were being pressured to test just in order to get a ball. To ensure this problem never arose coaches were asked to constantly promote the principle of volunteering and stress the fact that at no point should a person test if they did not want to.
The number of people testing was particularly impressive considering the stigma that surrounds HIV/AIDS. Often people who are just seen outside a testing centre may be branded with a bad name. Ben Sadler, the TackleAfrica Project Officer, agreed that testing is not always easy:
“I have been chatting to a number of people here today and there are many who are not willing to test. Some are worried that if they are seen by their friends or family close to the VCT tent then they will be branded as a prostitute or cursed by the devil. Others are worried that the community will no longer visit their shop if people think they have HIV. Hopefully, if we continue to have events like this, people will begin to think that testing is just a normal every day activity.”
By running events that target the youth, it is hoped that the emerging generation will see HIV/AIDS testing as a positive and safe approach to the virus rather than something that highlights issues of stigma. Lupiya Sibanda from Kantashi High School said that he was happy he went for testing:
“I was scared at first but we all went as a team. Our coach came too and tested herself. It was nice to have the support of my friends. We were all nervous but we got our results together.”
The Roadshow has motivated many people to test for HIV/AIDS, highlighting the power of sport when engaging with issues surrounding the virus. One of the big future challenges will be encouraging more females to test. To achieve this, the fight will have to continue against HIV/AIDS-related stigma.
Using a variety of approaches, the first Alive & Kicking Roadshow in Zambia has raised awareness of HIV/AIDS in communities across the Copperbelt. In each case HIV/AIDS knowledge has increased significantly and a structure has been put in place where local educators can continue to build knowledge in the community long into the future.
Thousands of people have had an opportunity to be involved in organised sporting events, participating as players, coaches or the supporting public. The schools involved have received high quality balls that will allow them to develop their sporting teams for years to come. Furthermore, people have also had access to mobile VCTs where records have been broken concerning the number of people coming forward for testing.
The project will certainly have made big strides in the fight against HIV/AIDS as well as tackling the stigma that surrounds it.