The Joanna Brown Trust was contacted in October 2010 by a team from Sky who were fundraising for the Phelisanong project in Lesotho, southern Africa. Founded in 2000 by a group of disabled and HIV positive villagers, Phelisanong operates a health clinic and an AIDS outreach program that co-ordinates HIV testing, holds village level education workshops and visits patients in their homes.
At the heart of the project is a local centre run by an inspirational woman called Mamello. She's 33 years old and disabled. A few years ago she decided that she didn't want other disabled children to have to endure the difficulties she'd had while growing up. So she started a community centre. Children with disability, both physical and mental, from the local communities, live there and learn and mix with other "able" children. In the day, Mamello and her team also look after orphans from the community. Many of the orphaned children there have lost their parents to HIV and Aids (in the whole continent there'll be approximately 18 million 'Aids orphans' by the end of this year - a staggering statistic). And Mamello is, with the help of an amazingly dedicated team (the ‘Warriors’), desperate to raise awareness of the disease and try to overcome the stigma that's attached to having it.
To help break down that stigma, the visiting Sky team had two main aims - to build a total of 10 netball and football pitches in the local villages and organise a netball and football tournament for the surrounding villages at Phelisanong. Mamello and her Warriors used the tournament as a means to get their message about HIV and Aids across to the locals. The money donated by the JB Trust bought 8 complete team sets of netball bibs and skirts and 24 netballs. This was used by the girls in the community for the netball tournament and will be looked after by Mamello so that it can be used in future tournaments and matches by the locals and children at the school. The tournament was a great success and was attended by over 4000 locals. Mamello and her team now have all they need to make the tournament a regular fixture in the Lesotho sporting calendar and help fight the spread of the disease.
The fundraisers from Sky were joined in Lesotho by Max Rushden from Soccer AM. To read his blog on the trip to Phelisanong, follow the link to: