Peace Race Showcases Athletic Talent in Dadaab and Kakuma Refugee Camps
In qualifying competitions held at the Dadaab and Kakuma refugee camps, over 100 young athletes of different nationalities demonstrated their athletic ability in races organised by UNHCR, in partnership with the Tegla Loroupe Peace Foundation (TLPF).
In qualifying competitions held at the Dadaab and Kakuma refugee camps, over 100 young athletes of different nationalities demonstrated their athletic ability in races organised by UNHCR, in partnership with the Tegla Loroupe Peace Foundation (TLPF). The Peace Race is an initiative intended to support talented youth athletes in refugee camps. Tegla Loroupe is a Kenyan long-distance track and road world champion who is also a global spokeswoman for peace, women’s rights and education.
In both camps, the races attracted hundreds of spectators who poured into the qualifying arenas to catch a glimpse of the athletes squaring it out for top positions. Despite the scorching sunlight and intense heat, determined athletes competed in 5km and 10km races.
20 athletes qualified in total and they have since travelled to the TLPF Training Centre in Ngong’ on the outskirts of Nairobi. The training is set to be very intense and will involve daily marathon training and speed-work coaching. Athletes who perform well during the training stand a chance to be selected to participate in a special category in the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.
The Dadaab and Kakuma refugee camps are characterised by their vastness and semi-arid climatic conditions, but are also home to many talented young people who do not have opportunities. Tegla Loroupe has undertaken to support the selected athletes every step of the way until they finalize their one-year training program. She is motivated by this opportunity to support refugees and has expressed hope that the project will continue to grow. “This project will give refugees a chance to use their talents instead of sitting in the camps. We appeal for support to purchase new equipment that can accommodate more trainees from the camps.”
Anyaro Okung, a teenage refugee girl from Ethiopia who won the qualifying race in Dadaab, is very hopeful that she can make a career out of this opportunity. Anyaro fled Ethiopia two years ago together with her three sisters and resides in Dadaab’s Ifo camp. “I want to compete at an international level and win all over the world” she says, exuding confidence.
UNHCR Representative in Kenya, Raouf Mazou underscores the value of this project. “He says that UNHCR wants to acknowledge talent, provide training as well as mentorship and livelihood opportunities to these young athletes. “The project will require perseverance and very hard work on the part of the athletes and I am confident that they are motivated and will do well under the mentorship of Tegla Loroupe. We are very honoured to have this opportunity to partner with her foundation.” He said.