organization that fights AIDS unveiled a new program
Wednesday aimed at engaging the 12 million African
children orphaned by the deadly disease by getting
them to play soccer.
Japanese-African program seeks to address the social
disruptions AIDS has caused on the continent by establishing
youth soccer leagues, said Adjei-Barwuah Barfour,
Ghana's ambassador to Japan. 'These are not issues you
tackle with drugs,'' Barfour said at the United
Nations. With the loss of a parent comes the loss of
financial security, the breakdown of the family
structure, and the disruption of educational
opportunities, he said.
Tomiko Abe, chief
director of the Stop AIDS Organization, told a news
conference she was inspired to use soccer as a means of
healing ''the wound on [the orphans'] heart'' when she
saw how happily they received her gift of a soccer
ball while she was on a mission to Sierra Leone.
''Even one football can give a dream to orphans,'' she said,
speaking through a translator.
Abe, along with
ambassadors to Japan from 10 African countries, hopes to
use the international interest in soccer to focus attention
on the need for a multifaceted response to AIDS.
ambassadors from Kenya, Zambia, and Mozambique appealed for
international support for the project, calling it
Stop AIDS has
designed a soccer ball, covered with red AIDS ribbons, that
will be used by both the youth leagues and during the cup
finals of all the participating countries.
Awori Dennis, the
Kenyan ambassador to Japan, said he hoped the soccer
balls would ''galvanize'' the global community. (AP)