To tackle important issues surrounding HIV and Sexual and Reproductive Health and Rights (SRHR) in African prisons, VSO (Voluntary Services Overseas) and Tackle recently organized an interactive webinar called “Transforming HIV and SRHR in Prison Populations in Africa through the Power of Football and Volunteering.”
This online event, held on June 6, 2023, brought together stakeholders from around the world to discuss the VSO Tackle prison program known as the Scaling Up HIV/SRHR education through football coaching programs in Southern Africa. Over a span of four years, this program was implemented in Malawi, Zambia, and Zimbabwe, with funding from the Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office (FCDO) (formerly DFID Department for International Development )in the initial year and BT Sports in its final three years, aiming to raise awareness, initiate dialogue, and encourage positive behavioural changes among incarcerated individuals in 14 prisons across these three countries.
Both the program and webinar highlight the potential of using football as a tool for social transformation. By combining the power of sports with the dedication of volunteers, the program aimed to create sustainable solutions to the challenges faced by prison communities in Africa regarding HIV and SRHR.
A notable moment during the webinar was a live demonstration of Tackle’s football methodology at the Garden Kampala compound playground in Lusaka, Zambia. This practical showcase exemplified how football was used in the program to engage, educate, and rehabilitate within prison settings. By utilizing the universal language of sport, participants explored how football-based initiatives can effectively reach individuals from diverse backgrounds, regardless of language, culture, or social status.
Coach Edson, Tackle’s Delivery Development Manager in Zambia spoke to Banji, a former inmate who served as a Tackle coach in the VSO Tackle prison programs at Mwembeshi Maximum Correctional Facility in Kabwe, Zambia, about his experience in the program and the impact he saw among his fellow inmates. Banji expressed,
“The program was successful because the inmates had the opportunity to learn about sexual health, which are issues that affect human life. They were able to understand what an STI (Sexually Transmitted Infections) is, how it spreads, and how to protect yourself and others. Inmates gained the knowledge needed to survive as they prepared to go back into society.”
The webinar provided an invaluable platform for sharing best practices, exchanging ideas, and showcasing successful case studies from organizations working at the intersection of sports, volunteering, and public health. Programme stakeholders delved into the impact of these initiatives on improving HIV prevention, treatment, and support services, as well as promoting comprehensive SRHR education and services within African prisons.
If you missed the webinar, not to worry, you can watch all the action below: