SEATTLE — David Beckham rose to stardom and became a household name by playing on various well-known soccer teams, including the UK team, Manchester United. However, there’s much more to this now-retired athlete than just his skills on the soccer field. His most recent visit abroad is no soccer training camp–David Beckham visits Swaziland with UNICEF instead.
In his retirement, Beckham has been exceptionally focused on charity work. Just last year he celebrated his 10th year of being a UNICEF Goodwill Ambassador by launching the 7 Fund, a UNICEF Fund with the goal of “protecting millions of children from danger.” Now, David Beckham visits Swaziland to see the results of his humanitarian efforts and visits with some of the communities served by UNICEF.
During his stay, Beckham met with mothers and children living with HIV in the impoverished regions of Lubombo and Shiselweni. According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, Swaziland has the highest prevalence of HIV infected adults. In a video interview with the BBC regarding his trip, Beckham states the importance of safe sex practices and their impact in preventing HIV transmissions.
However, in addition to HIV/AIDS, Swaziland now must face a variety of crises as a result of recent droughts. Ten countries, including Swaziland, endure food and water shortages, and while UNICEF is providing humanitarian assistance, the need in the affected countries currently outweighs their resources. It is estimated that UNICEF needs an additional US$226 million for 2016.
Still, UNICEF has done impressive work in regard to humanitarian aid and HIV/AIDS prevention and treatment. UNICEF makes up for its limited resources in numerous ways, but having David Beckham as a partner certainly helps. Beckham continues to join the organization in their work to get the 7 Fund set to contribute 27% of its budget to the fight against HIV/AIDS.
Already, the effects of UNICEF’s work are setting in. Many HIV positive women take the appropriate medications, and rates of HIV transmission to children steadily decline. Beckham weighs in on UNICEF’s impact, saying, “I am urging the global community to do all it can to help UNICEF deliver the life-saving food, medicine and clean water that these children so desperately need.”
– Jordan Rose Little