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    An Olympic Day at Kajaho Primary

    Day 177

    Leaving an Impression

    In case you missed it, eight days ago we organized a first-of-its-kind World Refugee Day 5k in Nakivale Refugee Settlement in Uganda. More than 1200 people participated in celebration of refugees and with the ultimate goal to promote sporting and play opportunities for refugee youth in their community.

    Among our guests at the event were four members of the Refugee Olympic team that ran away with our hearts in Rio in 2016 – Pur Biel, Rose Nathike Lokonyen, Gai Nyang Tap and Kadar Omar Abdallah. In fact, Rose and Omar were the women’s and men’s winners of the 5k.

    Sports and play have obviously been an important part of these refugee athletes’ stories growing up. So, before they left Uganda they wanted a chance to connect with the next generation. Kajaho Primary School – where Ugandan and refugee students learn side-by-side – hosted the Olympians and a small contingent of supporters for an inspirational afternoon of singing, dancing, playing and presentations by the students!

    It was an emotional experience for the Olympians. Each took a turn addressing the students, letting them know that they had lived in refugee camps, too – that they understood what their life was like. “I am a refugee like you. I have a passion,” said Omar. “I want to change my life through athletics. If you have a dream, I urge you to never give it up!”

    The Olympians had one wish, they didn’t want this to be a one-and-done. Gai remembered visits to his school when he was a boy – when the visitors left nothing had changed.

    So, we decided one simple thing we could do was capture the day’s energy in a mural that students could look to for inspiration for years to come. Ben, an artist from Nakivale, got to work transforming the drab plaster exterior wall and enlisting students, teachers, Olympians and our guests to help. Everyone had a blast, adding their own unique touches, handprints and messages (some stayed cleaner than others…). At the end of the day, the Olympic rings and values of friendship, respect and excellence were imprinted on the wall and in the hearts of the Kajaho students.

    And the Olympians made their own commitment to give back to the students at Kajaho PS and refugee children everywhere. Their lives have been changed through sports, and they want to make sure other refugee youth get those same chances. They’ve started fundraising and hope to begin launching projects with the aim of helping refugee youth experience some of the opportunities they’ve benefited so greatly from.

    Special thanks to Sweatshop Health Club MN, Mill City Running, Hahn Chang, Janet, and The Mortenson Family for supporting the Refugee Olympians and their drive to give back.

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    Changemakers 365

    by Alight


    The world’s tough problems can seem insurmountable. So at Alight, while we tackle those big problems we also do what’s doable. Right then. And that’s what Changemakers 365 is all about. Learn more!


    Changemakers 365 members give either $30 per month or a one-time gift of $365 (it’s free for anyone who has ever lived in a refugee camp). Join us!

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