Ex-Bosso star gives HIV kids hope

HARARE - American reality-TV star and Bantu Rovers benefactor Ethan Zohn is currently in South Africa as he visits his projects that help fight HIV in Africa.

The former Highlanders player arrived in Cape Town this week to visit the South African branch of his Grassroots soccer project, which he set with some of his $1 million winnings from the US version of Survivor Africa.

“Before I was on Survivor, I played professional football in Zimbabwe for... Highlanders," Zohn said.

“While I was there I witnessed first-hand what was happening with HIV in this community. I had a close friend in Zimbabwe. He was young and fit and scored all goals. He got sick with HIV. When he passed away, they wouldn’t even say the word. They say he died of‘slims’," he said.

“So I used some of the money and the fame and hooked with some soccer buddies to form grassroots, using soccer to deliver some really important health information, and its making a pretty strong impact.”

Grassroots is an international organisation with sites in South Africa, Zambia and Zimbabwe, which uses soccer to educate people about the effects of HIV/Aids.

In Zimbabwe, it operates from Bulawayo where Zohn teamed up with his former Highlanders teammate Methembe Ndlovu to establish Bantu Rovers.

Zohn, who also took part in Survivor: All Stars and the Amazing Race was diagnosed with a rare form of Hodgkin’s lymphoma in 2009 and again in 2011.

“The second time was flatting, exponentially more difficult than the first time. I was pissed off angry and frustrated. I didn’t want to die.”

In the 20 months between diagnoses, a new drug was made available. He happened to be eligible and used his brother’s stem cells for treatment.

Zohn laughs about losing his hair to chemo.

“It was scary, because without this I am nothing. I think it’s ironic that I got a disease that would make me lose my hair, I think that’s funny. And I was on a show called Survivor and I am a cancer survivor,” he said.

But ultimately his goal is to serve.

“For me helping others has helped me heal. And I feel sharing my story may have the ability to help others. Never crisis go to waste, because it’s a opportunity to help someone.” – Sunday Times/ Sports Writer

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