Brothers make a difference in Swaziland
- Credit: Archant
Tackling causes of HIV and AIDS in Swaziland and playing for the national side formed part of a ‘life changing trip’ for two Sidmouth rugby lovers.
Tom and Will Counsell, of Coburg Road, turned their passion for the sport into a money raising mission and helped make a difference to the lives of people in the African country when they embarked on a four-week trip to volunteer as coaches.
The teenagers’ work with SKRUM - an organisation which utilises sport to help promote sexual health - has inspired others to follow suit and six more people have already expressed an interest in volunteering next year.
Tom, 18, and Will, 16, also raised more than £1,700, which will pay for a borehole at the charity’s new headquarters. This will not only provide drinking water, but keep the rugby pitch watered as well.
Swaziland recently surpassed Botswana as the country with the world’s highest-known rate of HIV and AIDS infection – with 42 per cent of the nation’s population suffering from the illnesses.
The sixth formers said they found the trip quite overwhelming at times, but genuinely believe that SKRUM makes a difference on a daily basis.
Tom said: “I just felt the whole experience was life-changing for both me and my brother, but also the kids out there.”
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He explained that, with the younger children, all of their time was spent on the rugby pitch, but with the 12 to 18-year olds, they were also in a classroom talking about HIV and AIDS.
Tom said: “They found it very uncomfortable to start with, mainly because they were shy and what they are taught at home is often just not true.”
The pair said an ‘absolute bonus’ of all their work was the opportunity to represent Swaziland at rugby, with Tom playing five matches for the under-19s team and Will turning out for the under-16s.
The brothers, who both attend Exeter School, have since been asked to help coach an under-11s schoolboys’ team that is representing Swaziland in the UK at the beginning of October in an international festival.
The brothers’ mum, Lisa, said: “We were just so immensely proud that they were doing something that would have such a positive input into other peoples’ lives.”
To find out more about SKRUM’s campaign, or to donate online, visit http://uk.virginmoneygiving.com/team/Couns.