Wednesday, June 24, 2009

I Know My Status... Do You Know Yours?

Taylor & Team behind him completing Skillz activity
Grassroot Soccer held its first VCT (Voluntary Counseling and Testing) Skillz soccer tournament in Cape Town, South Africa on June 16, 2009. It was held on Youth Day, a national holiday in South Africa. Although GRS has held VCT's before, this was the first one held in Cape Town.

The tournament was held at Luhlaza High School in Khayelitsha. Over 140 kids ages 12-18 played on teams and went through the Skillz tournament and activities. By the end of the day 87 people were tested for HIV/AIDS and an additional 100 went through general health counseling.

Alexis and I, as well as some of the other GRS staff and volunteers went through the HIV testing, not only to "know our status" but also to see how the process went in order to figure out how the process can be improved upon for next time. The entire process was so quick and made me feel confident that the counselors were well-trained and that my results would be kept confidential.

Alexis and I waiting for our test results!

The day was exhausting, but it was so exciting to see it unfold, as we had been working on finalizing details since I had arrived at the GRS office. Over the past two weeks, Alexis and I had been doing anything and everything that the GRS staff needed to prepare for the tournament. From designing T-Shirts, to visiting the site to understand the flow of the event, to ordering toliets--we did it. Lisa was in charge of the testing operations, which led her to meet with New Start, Médicins sans Frontières (Doctors without Borders), and the City Health Staff.

On the day of the event I did everything from registration, serving food, handing out kids lunches, managing the flow of the testing component, and handing out the awards at the end of the day. It was quite an exhausting day. We arrived at the office at 7am and didn't get back to the Stonehurst Guest Lodge until 8:30pm.

Winning Girls Team Celebrating!

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