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Monday, 02 June 2014 00:00

Eva’s story

Anybody who has ever attended a CWB training weekend will know about Eva. For those that haven’t, Eva was a young girl who made a long lasting impression on Ed Williams, one of our founding trustees.

On the first ever CWB trip, a coaching session was held at an orphanage in Kiandutu, a slum area of Thika, just north of Nairobi (capital of Kenya). The orphanage was home to numerous children infected with HIV. Eva was present at the orphanage that day, but was too sick to initially join the coaching as a result of her infection. She was receiving no treatment and was suffering from an AIDS defining condition. However, seeing so many of her friends enjoying cricket Eva belatedly joined the session and, in true CWB fashion, Ed managed to ensure that she scored the winning runs and was made to feel special.

Shortly after the coaching session, Ed heard that Eva had been given access to Antiretroviral Therapy. He could only hope it was not too late. Despite his best efforts, Ed heard no further of Eva after that day.

Fast forward 8 years. I am one of a team of three CWB volunteers in the very same Kenyan slum. We were there to visit Kenwa, an amazing organisation formed and run by HIV positive women to provide support and assistance to infected women throughout Kenya. They also run a number of orphanages, including the one which Eva had been a resident of. During the meeting with Kenwa, we told Ed’s story of Eva to the staff and asked whether they recalled her? Deep down, we all assumed we would be told that Eva had passed away. However, the staff immediately recalled Eva. Amazingly, they also told us that they were still in regular contact with her and that she was a fit, healthy 18 year old, who had just completed her exams.

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Arrangements were quickly made for us to meet with Eva the next day. We even managed to put her on the phone to Ed. To meet someone that you have heard so much about and who had inspired Ed so much was an amazing, emotional experience. I feel no embarrassment when I say that I shed more than one tear that day. Eva is a courageous, inspiring young woman. She is no longer the painfully thin young girl in the photographs Ed has shown me. She now dreams of being a nurse and will shortly start training for this.

You haven’t heard the last of Eva. When we arrived back in the UK, we were contacted by Barney Douglas, a documentary maker currently making a film about the Maasai Cricket Warriors. Like us, he found Eva’s story inspiring. As a result, Eva will be appearing in the Warriors film which will be released shortly.

Eva is by no means unique. She is one of many young girls infected with HIV/AIDS in Kenya. In some ways, she is fortunate. For many, access to treatment comes too late, there is no Kenwa to intervene. Eva’s story reaffirms why I volunteer with CWB. HIV/AIDS doesn’t need to be a death sentence. Where treatment can be provided, young women like Eva can live normal, fulfilling lives.

It is stories like Eva's that have encouraged CWB to extend it's focus beyond the cricket pitch, in order to build networks to increase access to testing, counselling and treatment.

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