**To protect against stigmatization, some of the names in this story have been changed**
Working for Two Feet Project has been the best experience so far in my life! What makes it interesting is journeying with the girls through the happy and sad times of their lives. Recently we had a case, which was very sensitive; one of our girls’, Cindy, had to go through the toughest moment in her life. Cindy lives with her aunt, despite the mother staying in the same town. We always make visits to the homes of our futbol players to develop a relationship with the girls and their families. I really wanted to learn why Cindy was denied the chance of staying with the mother.
After sometime the aunt gained confidence in me and gave me a call and requested that we meet up. I saw that as an opportunity to get the answers and explain more about my relationship with her niece and our organization. The next day Cindy’s aunt told me the reasons why her family decided that Cindy should stay with her. The mother who works as a bartender, frequently returns home drunk, unable to care for Cindy. It was also at this time that I learned about the mom being HIV positive. I looked at the aunt in dismay, not wanting to believe what she had just told me. She explained how she found out. She had taken the mother to the hospital at one time when she was very ill and they found out she was infected with the virus. Many thoughts were running through my mind for a moment; I even wished it was all a dream and when I woke up everything would be different.
The aunt told me she had tried several times to break the news to Cindy but she was unable to. She requested that I be the one to break the news because of our close relationship. The more I thought about it the more I felt scared. I called a friend who is a qualified HIV/AIDS counselor and set up an appointment. The next morning I woke up very early and headed to the counselor’s office. We talked about what to expect and how to go about telling Cindy about her mother.
We then planned for a next visit for the aunt, mother and me. Unfortunately the aunt told me she would not be able to attend. I decided to make the visit to the mother and inform her on our progress and confirm her attendance. When I got to her house it was in the afternoon and she was already drunk. At that moment it dawned on me, I was going to break the news without the mum and aunt. I had to be strong for Cindy. I didn’t think I would be able to but the prayers of my family, colleagues and friends kept me strong.
I met up with Cindy and we headed to the counselor’s office one day on an official visit that we had planned, I had told her we were just hanging out and the counselor was my friend I wanted to see.
When the time came for her to be tested, just to be sure that Cindy’s mom hadn’t passed along the virus to her through pregnancy, I prayed so hard to God. The doctor called me in and told me the results were negative, I almost jumped out of my seat. I was so happy I couldn’t control my tears. All was left now was telling the girl that the mum was positive and that she was negative. We walked to the Two Feet Project office. We sat on the grass outside and I explained her mother’s condition to her. She was looking straight into my eyes as I was telling her and after breaking the news she froze for a moment. I hugged her so tight and assured her I would be there for her at all times. She digested the news after 10 minutes, which seemed like an hour, and told me that all she wants is for her mum to be happy. For a girl her age I never expected that, she was strong but I knew deep down her heart was breaking because she adores her mum. I love Cindy so much because I see myself in her.
My responsibility in working for Two Feet Project is to make sure I am there when the girls need me. I made sure that I was seeing her every evening for one week even the days when we did not have practice. It was a journey that we started together and one that will continue for many years.
I am happy to say that today Cindy is doing well, her relationship with classmates, friends and team mates is still the same. The happy, strong and playful girl never disappeared; she is still with us and we love her. Thank you to all those people out there who make it possible for us to reach out to such girls, allowing us to offer our time, love, care and affection. May God bless you.