We are all familiar with the term refugee. As explained by the UNHCR, refugees are people fleeing conflict or persecution. They are defined and protected in international law, and must not be expelled or returned to situations where their life or freedom are at risk.
This summer, 10 athletes have embarked on a journey to bring about a change in how the world sees refugees, and to send a message of hope out to the rest of the world and also to inspire people to reach for their dreams even after the circumstantial displacement.
These young heroes have made history this year at the Olympics by being the first ever team of refugee athletes to compete in Rio. They not only represent the strengths of their consecutive nations but most importantly, they reach out to the world's 21 million refugees, representing their talents, dedications, spirits, and perseverance. Despite these athletes being at their most vulnerable state, the courage, strength and integrity has risen them from the ashes to shine out as a beacon of hope for the rest of the world.
The team has 10 members. Out of them, five are runners, who fled violent fighting in South Sudan. Two of them are swimmers who escaped the conflict in Syria by journeying across the Mediterranean. The two judokas were both separated from their families as children while they were fleeing the fighting in the Democratic Republic of Congo. Lastly the marathon runner, sought asylum from Ethiopia.i am sure you will find a lot about those youngstars in the google.
While introducing the team, International Olympic Committee President Thomas Bach said "These refugee athletes will show the world that despite the unimaginable tragedies that they have faced, anyone can contribute to society through their talent, skills and strength of the human spirit".
Like this team, many others have also taken to abandon their fear to embrace the calling for greater good. For example, one 18-year-old Iraqi kick boxer Abdalla (whose last name has been withheld due to security purposes), was inspired by Jackie Chan and Bruce Lee movies. Abdalla started learning kickboxing at the tender age of 10. But being caught up in a nation flagged with political calamities and terrorism threats proved to create many obstacles for the young kickboxer to follow his passion. Later, his family took the decision to leave Baghdad and seek safety and stability in Germany. In Berlin he began training again.
Abdalla went to express his support and gratitude for the team saying, "I want them to prove to the whole world that the word refugee doesn't always represent or is not associated with fear and weakness," Abdalla says. "We need them to prove to the world that we can still do something [as refugees]."
The team is more than happy to be able to inspire others to be brave. The 24 year old, Popole Misenga says, "You can’t let people think that, just because they are refugees, they have to stop doing what they do.” He is a refugee from the Democratic Republic of Congo who will represent the team in Judo.
For Misenga and his teammates, being in the Olympics has given them not only the desire to win medals like any other Olympic team, but also a bigger purpose now - to show the world that refugees are more than just numbers; they're human beings, just like anyone from a first world country. "We still are humans. We are not only refugees," Yusra Mardini, a Syrian swimmer said. "We are like everyone in the world. We can do something. We can achieve something. We didn't choose to leave our homelands. We didn't choose the name of refugees."
These athletes have such a powerful story to tell, of courage, of strength and perseverance. Although they still have yet to compete, to the rest of the world’s admiring eyes, these 10 athletes have already accomplished something great. "Not only me, but every refugee in the world and every supporter of refugees in the world is standing by your side cheering for you," Abdalla wished the athletes when asked by a reporter from Bustle.
Let us keep these rising stars in our prayers and look forward to the 2016 Olympics being organised at Rio, Brazil.
For more updates for those Stars, you can visit https://www.facebook.com/teamrefugees