There are over 19 million refugees in the world who, for the most part, are never given a second glance. But not anymore! Emerging from the crisis are ten incredible athletes who make up #TeamRefugee. Their mission to raise awareness of our world issues by competing for the first time EVER at the 2016 Rio Summer Olympics. Keep reading to hear about their incredible journey!
What defines a refugee exactly? Well, it’s a person who has been forced to leave their country in order to escape war, persecution, or natural disaster. This year, for the VERY first time, refugees from all over the world will be represented in the Olympics. #TeamRefugee are led by Olympian and former marathon world record-holder Tegla Loroupe, and U.N Refugee Agency spokesperson Isabela Mazao. The formation of #TeamRefugee is slightly bittersweet affair because if we lived in a society where recourses were evenly distributed, there wouldn’t be any refugees in the first place. Together, the ten brave athletes will come together and make a difference in the world. Here are the most fascinating facts about the refugees.
1. There are two separate groups that make up #TeamRefugee.
Five out of the ten team members are athletes who fled their home countries and sought safety elsewhere. Swimmer Yusra Mardini escaped from Syria by crossing the Mediterranean. The team’s second swimmer Rami Anis also fled from Syria.
2. The other half of #TeamRefugee all share the same history.
Discovered at a refugee camp in northern Kenya by former Olympian Tegla Loroupe, the remaining five athletes are all long distance runners from South Sudan who were once considered “Lost Boys.” Yiech Pur Biel fled his childhood home where he became part of a refugee gang known as the “Lost Boys.” James Chiengjiek was also a part of the group.
3. Anjelina Nadai Lohalith never heard of the Olympics before.
Runner Anjelina Nadai Lohalith, who hails from Kenya, NEVER heard of the Olympics before she found out she made the team this year! “What is a Rio?” she remembers asking. “We didn’t know whether it is a country or a name of a person. We didn’t know. It was just like a dream.”
4. Their athleticism was their ticket out!
Popole Misenga and Yolande Mabika are judo wrestlers originally from Congo. Now, they live in Brazil, but how did they get there? Well, they were very sneaky and very resourceful! Popole and Yolande were on the Congolese judo team that took them to Brazil for an international competition. Once in Brazil, Popole and Yolande literally DITCHED the competition all together to seek asylum in their new country.
5. The formation of this team shows what’s wrong in this world.
#TeamRefugee shouldn’t have to exist, but we’re taking the necessary steps to find a worldwide solution. With roughly 19 million refugees out there, it’s pretty clear that money, food, healthcare, water, education (the list goes on) are not being evenly distributed. In 2012, there were “only” 11 million refugees.
HollywoodLifers, don’t you think #TeamRefugee send an important message about our current world issues?