HIV & Aids education

Posted: 22nd January 2008 1:35am

Sports teams are made up of a group of individuals who play together with the ultimate goal of overcoming the opposition with a mixture of skill and team work. You might have the best players in the world but if they do not interact successfully and support one another when under pressure they will be beaten by more organised opposition.

In the fight against the HIV epidemic in Kenya it is vital that everyone pulls together, passing on knowledge and supporting those in their community who have HIV. GAFFER utilises its large contingent of players and supporters to come together in the fight against HIV. The education GAFFER gives has been developed over the last few months through trial and error and fantastic support and advice from a broad spectrum of helpful organisations. GAFFER uses a mixture of curriculum's as well as sports activities to provide simple but interesting and easily absorbed HIV education.

After a visit to one rural school and a discussion with the teachers about their HIV education curriculum's GAFFER made a slightly disturbing discovery, the HIV book that was educating five-hundred young adults. It had some rather interesting views which must be seen to be believed.

On contraception:

"Contraceptives have done more harm to relationships than anything else in the history of mankind."

On sex before marriage:

"Having sex before marriage may even kill you."

On homosexuals:

"It is definitely abnormal and perhaps requires medical treatment."

Although GAFFER teaches Abstinence as the most effective barrier against HIV it is vital that people get open and honest advice about everything surrounding sexual health. So this is what GAFFER does:

Each village has a HIV group that has members ranging from sixteen to sixty years old. The groups are met by GAFFER in a classroom for a lesson that lasts about one hour.

Each member is given a handout they can keep for reference that GAFFER compiled then translated into Kiswahili. It covers the basic facts about HIV and AIDS as well as advice for HIV positive individuals.

The class is then invited to look at Alive & Kicking's excellent HIV posters. Using famous male and female sports stars to get across simple HIV information.

Kamau then talks through the messages on each of the nine posters and instigates discussion amongst the class about the issues involved.

Ben then goes through a long list of posters each with a question that has a True or False answer. Based on the Grassroot Soccer curriculum. The class discusses each answer and Ben brings in tricky issues relating to each question to fuel the discussion.

At this point everyone is a bit tired of talking so for some light relief Ben shows some football on GAFFER's new solar powered laptop/DVD setup! Including the ten best ever goals, heavily edited to ensure Arsenal players bag the top three!

After this a brilliant DVD called the Three Amigos is shown. It features three animated, talking condoms who go through different situations in Kiswahili. The class love the mix of humour and entertainment!

It's then time to split the class into groups and games and role plays, taken from Grassroot Soccer, are acted out. Each activity brings in a different message and brings people together to increase knowledge and reduce stigmatisation.

The lessons have been great success and more and more villages are being visited each week. The football teams are heavily involved which is great as confident young men are at a very at risk group. Young women are also talked to separately about Mother-To-Child-Transmission which appears to be a often misunderstood subject.

GAFFER would like to thank:

Martin Barnard at Alive & Kicking and Kirk Friedrich at Grassroot Soccer for the advice and allowing copyright laws to be bent so that the people who most need their excellent materials have got access to them so fast.

The Danish girls who's voluntary work in the area has helped get the proverbial ball rolling.

Gina Field for the loan of the laptop!

All the teachers and community leaders who's advice and support has been so vital in mobilising entire communities so fast.

All the players and supporters in the GAFFER area for being so open when discussing the more sensitive issues surrounding HIV and sexual health.

You can check out the three organisations who's excellent material GAFFER uses at the following websites:

On a lighter note and going back to the terrible HIV book that GAFFER found in a school...

On women:

"Girls emotional explosions may express something deep and personal, or nothing at all." !!

Tree Planting

Posted: 22nd January 2008 1:15am

The massive increase in the population living in and around the villages GAFFER works with has strained the natural resources to breaking point. A huge percentage of the indigenous trees have been cut down to fuel the illegal charcoal trade. Deforestation leads to soil erosion and local climatic change making self-sufficient farming even more challenging.

Planting trees is relatively easy but ensuring they survive the hostile conditions long enough to reach maturity is more of a challenge. So GAFFER had an ingenious idea! Get the school kids to plant and look after the trees for three years in return for lots of sports at school! This also ensures the trees will be protected from ever being chopped up and burnt for charcoal.

GAFFER sources the indigenous saplings from Wildlife Works and educates the children in effective irrigation and protection from pesky goats who eat everything they see! These kids are from Rukanga and Kiteghe Primary schools.

So far we have planted 447 trees! A big THANK YOU to Wildlife Works for all the education and support!

"The best time to plant a tree is twenty years ago, the second best time is now..."


10/04/07 - Rewards for the best trees!

The school children who care for the trees are periodically visited by GAFFER and the regional Forestry Officer. The trees that are best cared for and have the most effective anti-goat protection are rewarded with certificates and school exercise books.

Gaffer Lunch

Posted: 22nd January 2008 12:36am
Gaffer Lunch

On Sunday the 19th of February St Andrews school canteen in Oxford was transformed into a first class restaurant by Ben and his team of enthusiastic helpers. 56 people turned up for a meal chosen from the following menu.

Four big tables were filled and in less than 3 hours Saul, pretty much single handedly, produced 168 plates of food that were ably delivered to the assembled by some brilliant, if inexperienced, waiters. After the meal Ben gave a presentation to the diners about GAFFER and got some great feedback. The event raised over £900 for the GAFFER initiative and was unanimously heralded as a great success by all who were involved.

Ben would like to take this opportunity to thank the following:

Everyone Who Came - You were all fantastic and I'm so glad you enjoyed consuming the cuisine as much as we did preparing it!

Saul Hull - Chef Extraordinaire - Have you ever seen a man with a four foot high flame coming out of a pan in one hand whilst the other hand dextrously drizzles honey & mustard dressing in a perfect circle around a pile of rocket? Well I have! Cheers Saul, from writing a shopping list that would keep us busy for 4 hours in the supermarket to producing 56 covers in 3 hours, you were a star! And congratulations for not swearing at the kitchen staff! (Well, not much anyway!)

Patrick McKenna, Tom Fairfield, Gina Field, Jasmin Levy, Leon Cole and Tom Sell - With no previous kitchen experience you would have all been top of the class in waitering/washing up/not losing your rag school!

Natacha - For selling so many tickets and sorting out the wine for the guests.

Mum & Dad! - For everything...

Pink Bike Ride

Posted: 22nd January 2008 12:26am
Pink Bike Ride!

On February the 15th, a brave young explorer will be embarking on an epic mission. The likes of which have never been attempted before and, I’m guessing, will never be attempted again. The challenge is a bike ride from the historic University town of Oxford, all the way to Bristol. But this is no ordinary bike ride as it is to be attempted on no ordinary bike. I think the following photograph goes some way to explaining the enormity of the mission.

Ben will be wearing a pink, skintight, 1980’s cycling jersey emblazoned with the GAFFER logo and a helmet from a range that is specially designed for the fairer sex. In addition he will be riding a pink BMX. The journey will be long and hard, it’s not as if he can just cruise down the M4, though that would be even more hilarious. The route is over 90 miles along country roads. 90 miles is a really, really long way on a BMX that weighs as much as Johnny Vegas. Being 6’3” doesn’t exactly help either. It’s the bicycle equivalent of Frankie Dettori riding the 2.13 at Ascot on a badger. The mission could take up to three days. Fortunately a support car driven by a group of young men and women will provide food, water, back rubs and verbal abuse for the entire journey, as well as ensuring Ben doesn’t hop on the train at Chippenham.

The ride has been featured in the Oxford Mail and the Oxford Times. All the sponsorship is in aid of the GAFFER initiative. If you would like to donate to GAFFER please visit the SPONSORSHIP PAGE.


Posted: 21st January 2008 11:35pm
Old Goalposts!

Most rural football pitches visited simply use pieces of wood sunk into the ground to act as posts, sometimes with a piece of string as a crossbar. This causes the following problems:

* The lack of crossbar means you never really know when the ball goes in. This doesn't help when you are playing an important game and there are 200 people arguing on the pitch about how high a crossbar should be

* The wooden posts are rarely secured in the dirt so they are a danger to the younger kids who use them unsupervised

* Termites are widespread in Kenya and they love to eat wood. Consequently the posts don't last long

* You don't get that resounding "ping" when the ball hits the frame of the goal.

So this is how Ben makes some good quality, fairly cheap goalposts.

* Purchase some long lengths of 3" diameter steel water pipe. Water pipe is used because it resists corrosion much better than mild steel pipe. It costs more but should last years longer

* Also purchase some 90o connectors

* Cut the pipe to length. Tap threads on the ends. Paint the posts white.

* Take them to a village. Dig some big holes. 50cm x 50cm squares and 80 cm deep. The square shape of the holes stops the posts twisting

* Screw the posts together and drop them in the holes

* Wedge the posts in place with big stones and make sure they are straight and level

* Make LOADS of concrete

* Pile in about 30 kg per upright. Pack it down and cover the last few inches of the holes with dirt so there's no concrete sticking out to hurt little feet

* Try and stop the kids swinging on the new uprights for at least 8 hours

* Job done. Go and get some chai and chapati

© G.A.F.F.E.R.