FAI announce Friends in Ireland as Official Charity
As the official charity of the FAI, Friends in Ireland will have bucket collections outside the Aviva stadium on match day and will also avail of a number of other promotional and fundraising activities inside Aviva stadium and at Airtricity League games.
Friends in Ireland was founded by Marian Finucane and John Clarke following a visit to South Africa in June 2002. During this visit, they witnessed the dire circumstances in which orphaned and vulnerable children who had been affected by HIV/AIDS were living.
South Africa has the highest number of people living with HIV/AIDS in the world. As a result, the country is facing a crisis to support the orphans and child headed households that have been left behind. It is estimated that South Africa will have more than 2 million HIV/AIDS orphans by the year 2012.
FAI Chief Executive, John Delaney said, "it is a pleasure to announce Friends in Ireland as the official charity of the FAI. I know the great work that Marian, John and Friends in Ireland does in South Africa through this charity and we are delighted to provide a fundraising platform for them so that they can continue their lifesaving work with children affected by HIV/AIDS."
Marian Finucane said, "We are honoured and delighted with this partnership with the FAI. We are hoping that all footballers, young and old, and their supporters, will help us to help these wonderful children who find themselves in such tragic circumstances. The FAI staff, Sean St. Ledger, Giovanni Trapattoni and John Delaney have been inordinately helpful to Friends in Ireland in developing this partnership. While we didn't get to play football there, the footballing world can nonetheless play a hugely important role in South Africa!
Republic of Ireland international, Sean St. Ledger, has become an Ambassador for the charity. He said, "It is a great privilege for me to be an Ambassador for such a worthwhile charity like Friends in Ireland. I recently met transition year students from Portmarnock Community School who went to South Africa to work with the charity and they told me about the great work that is being done for these kids affected by HIV/AIDS. I hope to go to South Africa myself next summer with Friends in Ireland to visit the centres and to help out in any way that I can."
Since 2002 Friends in Ireland has worked with local communities and the South African government to establish 10 project centres. Friends in Ireland began by building a hospice in Khayelitsha, Cape Town in conjunction with Mèdicins Sans Frontières. The charity now works in the Eastern Cape, where, due to poverty and disease, one in three children does not reach the age of six. Friends in Ireland ensures that the children receive their proper entitlements from the government and provides each child in their centres with two meals a day. This feeding programme is assisted by food gardens at the program centres.
Friends in Ireland supports children in non-residential settings by developing facilities such as preschools, crèche facilities and drop-in centres. The charity is also establishing and equipping cluster foster homes into which orphans with no existing family support structures can live.