Great story from LWF-Kenya provided by Lennart Hernander
LWF World Service Kenya – Djibouti Program
Often referred to as “The Five from Kakuma,” they are 5 of the total 10 athletes who will be representing Refugees at the 2016 Rio Olympics. It is still surreal to them how much attention they are getting. It all started when the Tegla Loroupe Peace Foundation with support from the International Olympics Committee and UNHCR started an initiative to get refugee athletes from all over the world to participate in the Olympic Games to promote peace.
Their Journey to Rio started in October, 2015 when they were among a group of 36 refugees selected from both Kakuma and Dadaab Refugee Camps in Kenya. After a second selection process, 28 refugees were moved to the Anita Youth Center, in Ngong near Nairobi where they have been staying as they train and prepare for the Olympics.
“We didn’t know much about Rio, but we were happy to be selected to come and train to represent the youths in the Camps,” Anjeline, one of the 5 says.
After a few months of training some of the selected athletes dropped out for various reasons. The training however continued for 22 athletes. In April 2016, another selection was done in Kakuma and Dadaab Camps and 14 more athletes were added to the group, now totaling 36. It is from this group of 36 that 5 were picked to go to the Rio games.
“We started from scratch, all of them were new to running as a sport but they have adjusted fast and we are proud of how far they have come, “John Anzhar, one of their coaches, explains.
“Rio has many Champions, we don’t have much experience like them but we will do our best to win, “James another of the 5 says when asked about his chances.
“It takes more than 2 years of training for athletes to be confident to participate in the Olympics and we have had less time than that, so we won’t be disappointed if they don’t win,” John says, “But we will have accomplished our mission which is to show to the world that Refugees are people like us and we can promote peace by uniting through sports. “
The Tegla Loroupe Peace Foundation hopes to keep this initiative around for more years to come, hoping to involve more youths from the refugee camps after the Olympics, and to continue to work with the 5 for coming events.
The 5 athletes show that refugees have capacities and talents in many areas, and given the opportunity they can excel. On World Refugee Day 2016, we celebrate their ability and wish them success in Rio a few months from now!
LWF support sports development in Kakuma Refugee Camp, promoting both boys and girls in a variety of sports. Sport provides opportunities for people to develop various skills, relaxation, physical training and also provides psychosocial wellbeing. Sports activities is one way for people to engage in positive activities within and outside of school or work, and can be used as a tool for child and youth protection by having supervised and organized activities for children and youth in safe environments.
Tom Brook Community Relations Director – CLWR