Indian cricketers join hands with Unicef for AIDS orphans

MUMBAI: Joining hands in a unique partnership with Unicef, Indian cricketers participating in the Afro – Asia Cup matches in South Africa found a new cause to bat for - children orphaned and affected by HIV/AIDS.



At a function before the match at Kingsmead, Durban, Anil Kumble and Virender Sehwag met with a group of orphaned and vulnerable children. Former Indian cricketer and goodwill ambassador for Unicef India Ravi Shastri was also present at the occasion.



South Africa and India are two countries with the largest number of HIV cases. India currently has 5.1 million HIV positive people and South Africa 5.3 million.

"Every one needs a caring home and a loving family, more so the child orphaned or affected by HIV/AIDS. It is not in rigid institutions, but in compassionate homes that children will survive and thrive. The best gift to child whose parents have tested positive is to ensure that his or her parents continue to live," said Kumble.



Expressing concern over the spread of AIDS, he added, "Everyone has the power to prevent HIV. We can also prevent stigma and let orphaned and affected children live a normal life by batting, bowling and fielding like any other child."

Referring to the situation of orphaned and vulnerable children both in India and South Africa, Sehwag said, "Our compassion must be real. Compassion becomes real when we can ensure each of the affected children, their basic rights, food, health, education and above all medicines at a price that they can afford. He urged all people to unite in this endeavour. If nations and continents can come together as they did in this tournament, we individuals can come together for the love and protection all affected children."

The children tied the red friendship bands on the wrists of the players who reciprocated the gesture to pledge their support together for the cause of HIV/AIDS.

This latest Unicef initiative with cricketers comes in the wake of earlier programmes about Polio eradication and ‘Fair Play for Girls’ to promote girls' education.

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