The Tegla Loroupe Refugee Athletes Training Center was set up in late 2015 to train talented refugees in athletics and many others sports with the aim of taking them as part of the Olympic Refugee Team to the 2016 Olympic games in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.
How it all began
After her retirement from competitive athletics, Tegla Loroupe took action in helping people in the Greater Horn of Africa embrace peace by taking part in sports, especially athletics through her foundation's annual peace races. These were held in regions close to the local communities who are always warring.
Among participants in the races were refugees who had fled war in their home countries and are now in refugee camps in Kenya. When Tegla observed the talent in these refugee participants, she decided to petition the IOC to give a chance to those with potential to advance in their athletic careers.
IOC President Thomas Bach backed the idea and petitioned country olympic committees for the idea. This resulted in the establishment of the Refugee Training Programme in Kenya now undertaken by Tegla Loroupe Peace Foundation and Supported by IOC itself.
Tegla has been using sport to promote peace. Her tribe, the Pokot are pastoralists who have been fighting with the Turkana, Marakwet and Samburu over pastureland and water resources.
Sport and peace
Tegla initiated several peace building activities including consultative forums and voluntary disarmament of fierce and armed tribesmen. But her most effective weapon has been the use of organized peace races. Many warriors from the warring tribes who converged and took part in the races became peace agents in their communities.
The Kapenguria, Moroto, Tana River and Turkwell peace races are organized every year to promote peace.
The same idea of sport uniting communities in Kenya prompted Tegla to use the same to bring peace in the Horn of Africa. While she was Oxfam ambassador for Peace to Darfur, South Sudan, she sympathized with the lives of displaced children, young men and women who had been confined within refugee camps by war.
That when a South Sudanese, Somali, Burundian, Congolese, or any other war-afflicted person is running in the Rio Olympics, all the people of South Sudan will rally to support him or her, putting aside their differences. This is the uniting power of sport.
THIS IS TEGLA'S HOPE.