The SOL Foundation assists SKRUM UK using the game of rugby in the Kingdom of Eswatini to engage children, at the same time educating them about HIV/AIDS, inspiring better leadership in communities, raising awareness of gender violence and empowering girls and promoting the benefits of school and education.
Problem to be tackled
Eswatini has the highest rate of HIV infection in the world, currently estimated at 28% of the population. In 2018, 23’000 young people (ages 15-24) were living with HIV in Eswatini. Young women are particularly affected, with 15.9% living with HIV in 2018 compared to 3.1% of their male counterparts. Women’s increased vulnerability to HIV stems from gender inequality within Eswatini society.
Due to cultural sensitivity, primary schools in Eswatini are not free to teach HIV/AIDS prevention. In secondary schools the lack of resources, coupled with cultural sensitivity, prevents many teaches from discussing HIV awareness. The lack of access to accurate information means many children and young adults are unaware of the risks. SKRUM are welcomed into schools because being an external resource they are seen as separate to the day to day teaching of the school.
SKRUM has found a way to reach the children, connecting with them and building up trust, through the game of rugby. By playing games to get the children involved SKRUM can start to share key messages such as ‘protect the ball, protect yourself’ ‘respect the ball, respect yourself’. The slogan ‘Pass the Ball, NOT the Virus’ is a key message in the training and awareness programme.
It is widely believed that the way to reduce HIV infection is through education and awareness. The target group is children in full-time education from the age of 12 as this is the age when children may become sexually active and therefore most at risk of contracting HIV/AIDS. SKRUM aims to reach all state schools in the Kingdom if accessible by road and aim to reach all children in their target group regardless of gender or ability.
With the support from The SOL Foundation, SKRUM will be able to implement an all year-round HIV/AIDS programme with the focus on educating school children on how to protect themselves, and others, from HIV infection, lead a healthy lifestyle and promote gender equality.
SKRUM UK was established in 2008 to fund and administer its partner organisation SKRUM Swaziland. Swaziland (now known as Eswatini) has the highest rate of HIV/AIDS in the world, with 28% of the population infected.
SKRUM’s mission is to reduce these figures and offer hope to the youth of Eswatini. Since inception over 120’000 young Swazis have benefitted from SKRUM’s work.