In Rwanda, Sports plays a fundamental role in raising HIV/AIDS awareness, especially among the youth.
This has been achieved through partnership with the National AIDS Control Commission (CNLS) that has carefully incorporated the HIV/AIDS campaign into the sports sector.
“We are far beyond that point where we debate on whether sports is a major tool in the AIDS campaign because the bigger percentage of Rwandans-young and old, are sports fanatics,” said Alex Karenzi, a 22 year-old sports fanatic.
HIV is just what it is—a micro-retro virus that slowly kills, and destroys the human race.
The lifestyle of many young adults today does not help much. Promiscuity and recklessness is characterised in the short-term vibes of youth enjoying life however, there are hazardous outcomes.
Ditching school for independence, cross- generation sex and unawareness of the various issues surrounding HIV/AIDS are the problem.
Priorities among the youth are messed up and getting harder to define daily.
Twenty year old Anita Kamikazi, a student at Kigali Institute of Science and Technology (KIST), is passionate about the subject of cross-generation sex.
“How can the nation’s most productive people be used by older people as if they can’t see the consequences? It’s time for Rwandan youth to open their eyes and be aware of anything that can ruin their lives,” Kamikazi said.
“I love my culture, I respect it with utmost sincerity, but that does not mean I’m an idiot when it comes to analyzing it as well,” she added.
Recently, the Rwanda Cricket Association in partnership with CNLS concluded a two-day long crusade against HIV/AIDS in eight schools in Kigali.
These included renowned secondary schools like APRED Ndera, Lycée de Kigali, ADB Secondary School as well as primary schools like St. Joseph Primary.
Under the theme, “Running AIDS out of Rwanda and bringing cricket to Africa and fighting AIDS”, youth were sensitized.
In an exclusive interview Charles Haba, the Chairman of Rwanda Cricket Association (RCA) told The New Times that the campaign was an effort to promote AIDS awareness and participate in the social, economic and political life of today’s youth through cricket.
“Our focus centers on keeping school-going children busy during their holidays,” he said.
He underscored the benefits of the campaign in the lives of theyouth.
“We are keeping them aware of the dangers of HIV/AIDS, and giving them an opportunity to showcase their talent as we also discover raw talent,” Haba said.
“Sports is probably amongst the best avenues of sending these messages. Through sports you get numbers and people come to play willingly; better still, our cricketers get to travel a lot, so they need to be on top of their game in terms of awareness and performance.”
According to Robert Mugisha, the Administration and Development Officer of RCA, students were taught on how to prevent themselves from contracting the virus and its dangers.
“All this gave an outlet to the children to express their inner desires and emotions,” Mugisha said.
The fight against HIV/AIDS in Rwanda is monitored by the National AIDS Control Commission (CNLS). The commission was formed in 2000 under the Office of the President to coordinate the multi-sectoral programme on the AIDS pandemic.
Rwanda is one of the hard hit countries in the world but it has the leadership, the political and people’s commitment to reverse the devastating effect of HIV/AIDS.
Fighting the AIDS stigma against HIV positive Rwandans and encouraging people to go for testing in order to know their status has been incorporated in the AIDS campaign.
“I hope that young people living with HIV can grow up without discrimination and can lead fruitful lives,” said one parent Anthony Bizimana, 59.
According to the Capacity Building Officer of CNLS, Jacques Gakungu, the campaign was well attended, and participants ranged from the ages of 12-25.
“We taught them about the dangers of HIV/AIDS, and how to protect themselves from the plague through; education, abstinence, faithfulness, and use of condom as the last option,” he said.
Gakungu added that sports is a major tool to combat HIV/AIDS because it brings together different people of different age groups.
“Rwandans have a history of loving sports, so we use it as a tool to communicate the dangers of HIV/AIDS, and how they can protect themselves against it.”