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HIV/AIDS

12 July 2010

Football therapy for HIV+ women

Elizabeth Maseswa recalls how she was kicked out of her Harare home for revealing her HIV status before finding a new family on the football field.

Taking a breather after a heavy training session, Elizabeth Maseswa recalls how she was kicked out of her Harare home for revealing her HIV status before finding a new family on the football field.
 

The teams play in a makeshift stadium in the Harare suburb of Epworth which has two rocks sticking out in the middle of the pitch.

At the training session, play was stopped at one stage when a piece of wire punctured the only ball, forcing coach Jonas Kapakasi to cycle to a nearby shopping mall for repairs.

"This is what we go through sometimes," he said. "But the ladies are so united. Even if one the players is not feeling well, she turns up of training because other team members give her emotional support."

The players get ARVs from Medecins San Frontiers, while a local bank and petrol company have also chipped in with kits.

While football acts as therapy to relieve stress, team members  will have to fend for themselves and their families, with some poaching firewood from a neighbouring farm to sell.

The oldest member of the team is Mary Chinyama, 48, whose husband died in 2002. "I now get along very well with other members of my family
because of football," she said while cradling another teammate's child.

Zimbabwe's Ministry of Health and Child Welfare says the HIV prevalence rate in the 15 to 49 age group declined to 13.7% in 2009 from 33% 10 years earlier.

The government is struggling to provide ARVs to those who cannot afford with less than half of those in need currently accessing the drugs. - (Sapa, July 2010)

 

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