Written by CorpsAfrica/Malawi Volunteer Ms. Shyrene Kossam
Child marriages are not a new phenomenon in Malawi and neither is the issue of HIV/AIDS. Kachindamoto has one of the greatest and highest rates of child marriages, with one or two girls marrying by the age of 18. Young people are always at risk of getting HIV/AIDS due to early sexual activity. In Malawi, urban young people are more likely than rural young people to have knowledge of HIV prevention. Condom use also remains a challenge for most young people. Cultural beliefs are an issue and are putting young people at risk of getting HIV; most traditional beliefs restrict women and youth from discussing issues related to HIV and sex. There is no need to keep issues of sex and HIV away from our children in the name of culture when our people are dying. The main aim of GRS in my community was for youth to be educated of the dangers of the disease.
The Grassroot Soccer program is one of the ways to stop the spread of HIV and really made a great impact in my community. The journey of stopping the spread started on the 3rd of April and finished on the 7th of April. The camp covered two primary schools, Mtakataka and CCAP, with 25 students in each school. Unfortunately, only 43 students managed to finish all 7 sessions and graduated the program. The camp was very successful with the help of my two fellow Volunteers Mustapha and James, and two teachers from both primary schools who were interested with the idea and were willing to continue with it. During the camp we made it possible to build good relationships with the youth in a safe space that they were comfortable to participate in. The camp and GRS made us realize the power of soccer to stop the spread of HIV.
Life can be so amazing to see how much impact can be done with so little. Grassroot Soccer made me realize that I have the power to change someone’s future and I’m making a difference every day.