The next destination for WE AfriHug team after Ghana was the refugee camps of Western Sahara. The Saharawi refugee camps are located about one hour from the city of Tindouf, Algeria, close to the Moroccan and Mauritanian borders, where around 160.000 Saharawi refugees live in the desert.
The team travelled to this special destination having three objectives. First, to achieve the sports milestone of Sahara Marathon, running in the desert for 42 km, secondly to spend a week together with the Saharawi families and get knowledge and understanding of the 42-year-long conflict, their way of living and culture and thirdly to empower young refugees through education.
The Sahara Marathon is not just a race but is an international sports event to demonstrate solidarity, to promote sports among Saharawi Youth and to raise the awareness about a 42-year-long conflict. 42 years of suffering for a population affected by a conflict that is burying their hopes, generation after generation. 18 years of Sahara Marathon, and 42 years of exile for the Saharawi people. The motto of the 2018 edition of Sahara Marathon was “42 kilometers of our effort, for 42 years of your resistance”.
WE AfriHug team successfully accomplished the sports milestone of running the Sahara Marathon. Konstantinos Maragkos and Demetris Christodoulou ran the 42.195 km and Marilena Maragkou the 10 km. It was the first time for Greece and Cyprus to be represented in this marathon since its first edition, in 2001. In total 500 participants from 23 countries participated in the marathon, the half marathon, the 10 and 5 km races. The route of the marathon symbolically connected the three refugee camps of Smara, Auserd and El Ayoun, and leaded the runners through the desert which has been the home of refugees for 42 years.
Thanks to the support of the members of the “Global Western Sahara Ambassador Programme”, in which alumni of the Erasmus Mundus European Master in Tourism Management are working, WE AfriHug team arranged a 2-day Non-formal Education Training Seminar with 15 Saharawi students of “17 June Intermediate school”. During the first day, the activities “Shield power” and “The Hidden Path” took place, while the students being open and adaptable participated actively, embracing Non-formal Education, even if it was their first approach to this new learning process. During the second and last day of the Training Seminar, the students gave their best and participated in the activities “The Front Page” and “The Battle of Orange”. Communication, Collaboration, Critical Thinking, Social and Cultural were the key skills to be developed through the activities. In the end, the students got their certificates of participation, shared their thoughts and evaluated the training.
The next day, WE AfriHug team met again the students, in order to conduct interviews and understand better their opinion and experience but also to create an artistic video!
After living together with the Saharawi for a week, participating in the Solidarity Sahara Marathon by running 42 kilometres in the desert, training and empowering Youth through Non-Formal Education, the team completed its actions in the Refugee camps of Western Sahara.
The project continues in Ghana, where a research on Academic Mobility will take place, investigating the motivation of African students to study abroad but also trainings at Universities and High-schools will continue, in order to empower more and more Youth.
Find out more about Sahara Marathon:
Enjoy our dissemination video for Western Sahara: