Gonzales, Port of Spain - Indian Cricketer Sachin Tendulkar speaking to residents during a visit to Gonzales Community.
By Stuart Sutton-Jones
GONZALES, PORT OF SPAIN, 15 March 2007 - They came from all over the community of Gonzales – schoolchildren, local residents, young cricketers and youth community groups – all drawn to a playing field to be present during the visit of one of the greatest batsmen of all time, Sachin Tendulkar. In this cricket-mad part of the world which is host to the Cricket World Cup, children grow up knowing the names of the great players, and everyone here knows the name Tendulkar. But as Trinidadians will tell you, many in Port of Spain also know the name Gonzales. It has a reputation as a place where children and young people are at risk from gangs, crime, drugs and HIV, a community of problems.
But in recent years the people of Gonzales have been changing things for themselves through the non-governmental organization (NGO), Pride in Gonzales that offers young people in the community the opportunity to direct their energies into the Arts, through training in video and other media. The result, say Gonzales residents, is that young people now know there are alternatives to a life of crime and drugs. And it was this changing community and its young people that Indian cricket star Sachin Tendulkar came to see and to celebrate.
Under banners proclaiming Unite for Children Unite Against AIDS, the event unfolded, hosted by young people from Gonzales. The coordinator of the Pride of Gonzales Arts program, Joyelle Cameron, led Sachin Tendulkar into the ground accompanied by the Director of UNAIDS Caribbean Regional Support Team, Dr Karen Sealey, and UNICEF Special Envoy to the Caribbean, Karin Sham Poo.
Sachin Tendulkar having a “one on one” private conversation with youth coordinators from the Pride in Gonzales project.
At one point the star player left the arena to spend a private 20 minutes with four young people connected to Pride of Gonzales, among them Joyelle Cameron. Joyelle said she shared with Tendulkar her experience of growing up in a depressed community, with the gang wars and high crime rate. But she said she told Tendulkar that this had created a passion within her, a commitment to see that change must come to her community. “You see all these young people dying on the streets, shooting, HIV and Aids and so you feel that you must do something.”
Joyelle explained how together with her friends, Johanna Thomas aged 18, and Lisa Samai aged 17, they joined the Pride in Gonzales project in order to become part of the change happening in their community.
In his address to the assembled children and to the media, Sachin Tendulkar spoke of the need of the community to rebuild itself and that change can only come from within the community itself. He added that when a community works in the way that Gonzales is now beginning to work, any change is possible, including having an effect on the spread of HIV and AIDS.
For more information: www.uniteforchildren.org
International Cricket Council (ICC)
In September 2003 the ICC became the first global sporting body to enter into a partnership with UNAIDS to help raise awareness and reduce stigma around AIDS. This partnership, which has seen a series of activities take place since its inception, including annual activities on World AIDS Day and at major ICC events, was joined by UNICEF in 2006.
UNAIDS, the Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS, brings together the efforts and resources of ten UN system organizations to the global AIDS response. Cosponsors include UNHCR, UNICEF, WFP, UNDP, UNFPA, UNODC, ILO, UNESCO, WHO and the World Bank. Based in Geneva, the UNAIDS Secretariat works on the ground in more than 80 countries world wide. Visit the UNAIDS website at: www.unaids.org
UNICEF is on the ground in 155 countries and territories to help children survive and thrive, from early childhood through adolescence. The world’s largest provider of vaccines for developing countries, UNICEF supports child health and nutrition, good water and sanitation, quality basic education for all boys and girls, and the protection of children from violence, exploitation, and AIDS. UNICEF is funded entirely by the voluntary contributions of individuals, businesses, foundations and governments. Visit the UNICEF website
Caribbean Broadcast Media Partnership on HIV/AIDS (CBMP)
The CBMP unites over 50 top broadcasters from 23 countries in the region’s first coordinated media response to the pandemic. The Partnership shares information and resources to expand AIDS-related programming and public education activities across the Caribbean. The CBMP is overseen by a Steering Committee of broadcast executives representing a diverse constituency of media houses and countries from the region, with strategic and technical guidance and production support from the Kaiser Family Foundation. The Ford Foundation and the Elton John AIDS Foundation provide additional financial support. For more information, visit: www.cbmphiv.org.
Geeta Bandi-Phillips, Communications Officer - 981 810 3787; Mobile: + 91 981 810 3787, Email: email@example.com
Stuart Sutton Jones, UNICEF Consultant – 1 868 623 7056 Ext 5; Mobile: 1-604-781-1425, email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Leslyn Thompson, Communication Officer – 1 868 623 7056 Ext. 5 OR 1 592 225 9993: email email@example.com.