Tebelopele Launches "Go Blue" Campaign

Pontscho Moloi, Tshepo Motlhabankwe, Modiri Morumo, Khumo Motlhabane and Donald Thobega proudly wear their Zebras4Life wrist bands Pontsho Moloi, Tshepo Motlhabankwe, Modiri Morumo, Khumo Motlhabane and Donald Thobega proudly wear their Zebras4Life wrist bands.

Gaborone - At this time of year the action heats up on the football field for Botswana's senior and under-23 football teams. Tebelopele Voluntary Counselling and Testing (VCT) centers hope that the excitement around the Zebras will remind people of the benefits of knowing one's HIV status.  

Itshupe ka Botala, or the "Go Blue" campaign, is a new effort by Tebelopele to provide counseling and testing services at more client-friendly places, such as near shops, hang-out spots and transit hubs, in addition to its 16 centers and regular mobile outreach. The new outreach venues will offer greater convenience without diminishing existing services.  

Dr. Jan Raats, Tebelopele's Executive Director, explained, "We are always striving to make our services more client-friendly. The Zebras campaign has created great fanfare around VCT services. We hope that its popularity will carry into the effort to provide our highquality services at more convenient locations in cities, towns and villages throughout Botswana."  

The nationwide VCT chain has procured tents and is set to mobilize 100 of its counselors in a ward-based VCT model. The effort especially seeks to increase the number of men and out-of-school youth using VCT services between now and World AIDS Day (Dec. 1). Those who test with Tebelopele will receive one of the popular Zebras4Life — Test4Life wristbands. Clients will be encouraged to wear the wristband to show support for the national teams and their personal commitment to living a long, healthy and productive life.

Zebras4Life campaign has so far empowered 4,090 people to know their HIV status.

"I hope everyone is aware of the Zebras campaign and the importance of knowing your status," said Modiri Morumo, goalkeeper and captain of the senior Zebras squad. "Please use this opportunity to get tested for HIV."  

Since the beginning of the year, Tebelopele has been leading the Zebras4Life — Test4Life campaign which uses the popularity of the Zebras to encourage men and out-of-school youth to test for HIV. Statistics confirm that the approach is working. At 43 events in 33 different locations, Zebras4Life — Test4Life has empowered 4,090 people to know their HIV status. These events posted approximately a 300 percent increase over historical testing demand. Moreover, 58 percent of those testing were men, up 10 percent compared to regular efforts.  

The Zebra testing efforts, initially the idea of Peace Corps volunteers in Botswana, receives financial backing from the U.S. President's Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR) through U.S. Ambassador Katherine Canavan's leadership. The campaign has the support of the Botswana government, Botswana Football Association, BOTUSA and others.  

For more information about the Itshupe ka Botala campaign or Zebras4Life — Test4Life, contact Thandi Thumelo or Brian Awsumb at the Tebelopele Main Office at 3958015.  

Peace Corps Volunteer Brian Awsumb contributed this report.