Sports for devlopment and peace

ORUCHINGA, April 6 (HIJRA)-  On a dirt football field, two teams are battling. It is the final minutes of a friendly match between Nakivaale FC and Oruchinga FC. The crowd is anxious and intently watching the young passionate players attacking each other’s goals.

This may look like a typical football game, but nothing about it is. Though the teams are going up against each other, the players share the same past, they are refugees.

For Oruchinga FC players, securing a win in this friendly comes last on all the adversity they have had to overcome in the past years.

Among the players are Issa Cubujaka and Oliveye. These two, like some of their teammates, are refugees that have been settled in Oruchinga Settlement camp in Isingiro district.

To survive violence and death in The Democratic Republic of Congo, they fled their homes and their Country. After spending a few months in a transit camp, they were relocated to Oruchinga where, HIJRA staff welcomed and helped them and their families get back on their feet through it various activities and services.

They have spent 5 years at the Oruchinga settlement camp, and the journey has been long and hard. One of the many challenges Issa and Oliveye have had to face was integrating into the community.

With different cultures, beliefs and norms, most refugees continue feeling like out siders even when they have been settled in a camp. Through its community services, HIJRA was able to organize sports games in Football, Volleyball and Netball among the refugees and locals.

As the games became more frequent, friendships began to grow. “Ever since I started the life of soccer, I have made a big number of friends. Friends I would not have if I was not a sports man,” Issa explained.

With growing friendships, progress started to be made. Some locals like Benjamin Byamukama joined Oruchinga FC. Sports had untied them.

“The best thing to unite human beings on this planet in a short period of time is sports”, Byamukama agreed.

Since the introduction of sports in Community Unifying, segregation among the refugees and locals has greatly reduced. The refugees have been able to discover new places through exchange visits. Sports has helped them discover their talents, has brought them Joy and Happiness, and for some, it has been a source of employment. Sports has also been a great tool to promote gender equality in the camp, with women playing games too.

Sports has been a key tool for HIJRA in encouraging development and Peace in the Oruchinga settlement camp.

At the sound of the final whistle, the two teams were tied at 2-2. As the sun set behind them, Oruchinga FC team walked off the field together animating the high and tense points of the game.

For many refugees like Issa and Oliveye, sports has helped them move on from a harrowing past and look into the future with hope and certainty.

By Maxine Kampire and Martin Ashaba

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