NAIROBI, Kenya, Oct 2 – Legends Rose Tata Muya and peace icon Tegla Loroupe are among the high-profile personalities who are expected at the inaugural Refugees Marathon to be held on Saturday, October 6 at Nairobi’s Uhuru Park grounds.
Event organisers, Bahati Ghislain and Jean Pierre Ngirabahire, have confirmed everything is set for the first ever such event for refugees in Kenya saying the aim is to celebrate the Kenyan government and the people of Kenya for their hospitality.
Loroupe, a UN peace ambassador, said the event is a major talent identification pool for her refugee athletes programme, having advocated for stateless athletes to take part at the 2016 Olympics in Brazil.
“They go through a lot and its very painful that talented youth can’t exploit their gift because of problems they have no control of,” she said.
“It is a good event and I always want to support such ideas because they are the ones that advance the cause I have always championed.”
“If not for the warmth and nature of Kenyans we would never have known peace,” said Bahati, 24, who moved to Kenya 10 years ago from Democratic Republic of Congo after losingall his family members.
“This country has made me everything I am because they allowed me to feel human again. I have every reason good to say about Kenya.”
Jean Pierre said they would use the event to donate blood to the national blood bank but “are still working on the modalities of partnering with the national blood transfusion centre.”
“We have really thought about how or what we can do to show our gratitude to the great people of Kenya and we thought this would be a good way of saying thank you,” he explained.
“This is about celebrating Kenyans who have allowed us to live amongst them like brothers and sisters. We also want us to raise awareness on the plight of refugees and what it means to be one because we go through but Kenya has made us feel human again.”
The event themed #RunaMileinRefugeeShoes is being organised under the auspices of Kintsugi, a community-based organization that mobilizes refugees with a view to helping them through the different challenges they face in Kenya.
It brings together refugees from different nationalities who are currently residing in Kenya, mainly from DRC, Rwanda, Burundi, Somalia, South Sudan, Eritrea and Ethiopia among others.
Other than the 10kilometre run and the 4km fun run, the day’s programme will also feature entertainment by different choirs and artistes, blood donation as well as sensitization on different issues affecting refugees.
Over 3,000 refugees will take part in the event that will kick-off at 7.00am.
“We are appealing to His Excellency Governor Mike Mbuvi Sonko to support the event, even to just flag us off,” concluds Bahati, saying that the more than 70,000 refugees in Nairobi are law-abiding and wish to work with the county leadership.
Huge refugee populations are in Eastleigh, Kasarani, Kawangware, Kabiria (Riruta Satellite) and Kayole in Nairobi County and Kitengela (Kajiado County).