Pictured above are U.S. Ambassador Kate Canavan and Zebra's football player Kagiso Tshelametse greeting Nata youth at the Kgotla. It was great to have these two celebrities visit our little village.
Pictured above are folks waiting to test at the Tebelopele Caravan. We want to thank Brian Awsumb, Peace Corps Volunteer with Tebelopele, for providing a summary of the days events. Below is an excerpt from his report. Thanks Brian! U.S. Ambassador Katherine Canavan andBotswanasoccer star Kagiso Tshelametse addressed community members at the Nata kgotla on the importance of HIV testing. Both were in the village to wrap up a Zebras4Life—Test4Life football tournament in the area. Canavan also used the date of the occasion, Earth Day, to highlight the U.S.-Botswana partnership to conserve the Makgadikgadi Pans and other wilderness areas. The day's events were organized by the Nata community, the U.S. Embassy, and Tebelopele Voluntary Counseling and Testing Centres. Tebelopele VCT offers free, confidential HIV testing and counseling to those age 21 and older (younger clients need parental permission) at their regional centres and mobile outreaches. (The nearest centre to Nata is inFrancistown, 200 km away.) Although government clinics offer HIV testing services, such as in Nata, Tebelopele plays crucial role inBotswanas effort to fully address the HIV/AIDS scourge.
The problem inBotswana, however, is that men are much less likely than women to test for HIV and take a personal interest in their health. U.S. Peace Corps volunteers inBotswanawho were inspired by Magic Johnson and Lance Armstrong recommended the use of the men's national soccer team, The Zebras, to link men to HIV testing services. The resulting campaign, Zebras4Life—Test4Life, plays on the fans motto of unwavering support of the team and the linkage between testing and moving forward in one's life. Participating Zebra players wear blue wrist bands as a symbol of knowing their status and appear in media advertisements, printed brochures, and make public appearances at testing events. Those that test with Tebelopele receive a wrist band like those worn by the players. The campaign receives financial support from the U.S. Embassy though it is a partnership between Tebelopele, the Botswana Football Association, theBotswanagovernment, and Peace Corps volunteers. For the past three weeks soccer clubs in the Nata area had competed in a football tournament intended to provide information about HIV/AIDS and offer testing services to participants. Moaloso Football Club in Nata received the top prize on the 29th of April event—t-shirts and a personal congratulations from Ambassador Canavan and Tshelametse. Tebelopele reported that 168 Nata community members testing for HIV on 29-30th of April, a record client load for the area.