Make a difference with “Giving is Winning”
In just over six months after its launch, the second “Giving is Winning” campaign is exceeding all expectations of its originators, the IOC and the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR). Athletes, officials, members and supporters of the Olympic Movement have responded generously to this joint project in the run-up to the 2008 Beijing Games. More than 43,000 clothing items have so far been collected and distributed to various refugee camps in Africa and Europe: the total number of 30,000 items collected during the entire first campaign during the 2004 Athens Games has been largely surpassed. Two new donations have now reached refugee camps in Rwanda and Moldova.
Rwanda: clothes to pursue dreams
More than 50,000 people are in refugee camps in Rwanda. And almost 62 per cent are under 17 years old. These youngsters are particularly in need of leisure activities to overcome the idleness of their life in a camp but also of items such as clothing, which counts a lot to the welfare of a refugee. This is why the Dubai International Humanitarian City (DIHC), a global humanitarian and aid hub from United Arab Emirates, has decided to join the IOC-UNHCR campaign. Its donation of about 19,000 items of sport and casual clothing for men, women and children have been recently distributed in four different camps in Rwanda: Nkamira Transit Centre (hosting 2,163 refugees from North Kivu, Democratic Republic of Congo), Nyagatare Transit Centre (hosting 2,659 refugees from South Kivu, Democratic Republic of Congo), Kigeme Camp (hosting 2,044 Burundian refugees) and in Kigali. For the latter, 1,217 refugees out of a population of 2,563 persons benefited from the donation, which means for some the ability to walk in public with dignity, and to others, an ability to pursue dreams that would have been cut short by its absence. Thus for a teenager in the Kiziba Camp, “the sports clothes are appreciated by the young people, it will enable us to play without shame”. While receiving clothes, a 71- year-old woman in the Gihembe Camp did not have enough words to express her gratitude and just said: “I am glad to see that there are people in the world who think to help others”. And for 7-year-old Eric, “with these clothes that I have gotten, I am going to study well and I will also help somebody else one day”.
Moldova: a campaign for humanity
The Singapore sports movement has not forgotten that “the Olympic Movement has always been as much a celebration of humanity as it has been about sport”, according to Ser Miang Ng, President of the Singapore National Olympic Council and member of the IOC Executive Board. Thus, 50 top Singaporean athletes and officials decided to make a difference in the lives of people in need, by giving hundreds of polo shirts, track suits and sports bags to refugees and asylum seekers in Moldova, 10,000 km from Singapore. The distribution of the donation took place at the Reception Centre for Asylum Seekers, which hosts both adults and children, and where a newly renovated recreation room with sport and fitness equipment is available. Other items were donated to refugees based at a Reception Centre in the capital, Chisinau. Touched by the generosity of people she had never met in her life, a 68-year-old female refugee from Armenia said: “We express our gratitude from the bottom of our hearts to the people of Singapore. They are such kind people and are ready to help others in difficult moments. I wish all their sportsmen the best in competition. I hope they will win many medals”. Moldova is home to many refugees and asylum seekers from neighbouring countries and beyond, some coming from African, Asian and Middle Eastern countries.
Sport, a powerful humanitarian tool
Sport is a powerful tool to promote peace, dialogue and reconciliation. The IOC currently works with a wide array of UN specialised agencies and organisations around the world to benefit young people and the community, in particular with the UNHCR. The IOC’s sport and education programmes for refugees, conducted in partnership with the UNHCR, have reached thousands of refugees, particularly young people, touched by war. Several projects launched with the UNHCR in the past two years have provided sports and educational assistance to refugees, internally displaced people and returnees in Africa, Europe and Latin America. The IOC was one of the first organisations to provide relief assistance to those affected by the tsunami disaster in 2004 through the Red Cross. In Somalia, sports equipment sent to 19 tsunami-hit areas in the country, was used by the Red Cross to bring warring youngsters and all the community together and take part in sport competitions peacefully.
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