WE WERE LIKE IN A FAMILY
(Text and photos by Nicolas Messner, Head Director of Judo for Peace)
On Friday, March 08, 2019, judoka from Meheba, in northeastern Zambia, travelled to Lusaka to participate in a Judo League competition organised by the Zambian Judo Federation. This may seem trivial and yet it is not, far from it, since these athletes are refugees who are part of the Judo for Peace program in Zambia and have been living in a refugee camp, some for many years.
The refugee delegation together with the President of the Zambian Judo Association
Led by Faustin, their coach, a refugee himself, four athletes participated in the competition after spending several hours on the road to connect the capital:
- NISHIMWE Bendrix, 17 yo, -66 kg (Burundi)
- KABANGE Roger, 15 yo, -60 kg (DRC)
- UWIMBABAZI Carle, 18 yo, -55 kg (Burundi)
- MWAMBA Fiston, 21 yo, -73 kg (DRC)
Alfred Foloko, President of the Zambian Judo Association and President of the National Olympic Committee of Zambia said: “The participation of refugees from a number of countries in our League is a demonstration that sport can be used as a tool for the integration of refugees in social and economic activities of Zambia. It further demonstrates the power that it has over other interventions in creating a conducive environment in which refugees can live.“
Before adding: "Participation in judo and sport in general, can, undoubtedly, contribute to the prevention of conflict and the promotion of peace in Zambia and countries of origin of the refugees. In this sense, inclusion of refugees in the league and use of sport in general provides an opportunity to transcend cultures, enabling us to share knowledge on different cultures. The league helps to build bridges between Zambians and refugees regardless of cultural differences or nationality."
Faustin was really pleased with the participation of his young athletes: "Carle Uwimbabazi was the first competitor from our team to start in the morning and he won his first contest. Then two out of the four athletes that I was coaching went to the final, and at the end of the day we were fifth in the overall rankings, among eleven clubs. Everything went very well indeed. My only concern is that I would love to be able to engage more competitors as I am sure we would get even better results."
Faustin is a demanding coach, who always wants more and who knows that he can always do better, but the least we can say is that he was more than happy at the end of the event: “I want to thank all the judoka and the Zambian Judo Association. They welcomed us as brothers and we felt like we were part of a big family. For me as a coach, it means a lot that my athletes performed well because; it means that what we are doing in Meheba is good. The Meheba judoka were not sanctioned during their matches, and that is very encouraging.“
But as a refugee himself, Faustin has no words to really express what he feels: “For me what is happening through the judo for Peace programme in Zambia is a miracle. I don't know exactly how to describe it.“
Before arriving in Lusaka, the refugee team was a bit scared: “They were a bit worried. I told them that it was logical but that they just had to apply what we have learned on the mat", explained Faustin, before adding: “All the other Zambian competitor swere amazing. They were cheering for us. Everything went very well. It was funny because everyone was a bit curious about who we were. They wanted to learn more our language. The atmosphere was simply incredible.“
Alfred Foloko concluded: “The League provides safe environments for refugees as they participate in training and competitions alongside Zambian judoka. The refugees are integrated in the League and other activities where they share common goals and interests with their Zambian colleagues. It gives them an opportunity to learn Olympic Values including respect, friendship and fair play, thereby making them responsible people capable of contributing to the development of Zambia and their countries of origin.“
Last December, a new dojo, financed by the Norwegian Olympic Committee, was inaugurated within the Meheba Refugee settlement. Three of the four athletes who participate in Lusaka are now training in that dojo. It is sure that in the months to come, more of the refugee athletes will gain enough confidence to win more medals and to build a better life.
You can donate to the Judo for Peace programme by purchasing one of the items of our JFP Collection: https://judoforpeace.net/
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JUDO FOR PEACE AT PARIS GRAND SLAM 2019
Official Judo for Peace Collection products had a great opportunity to be present and have a pop-up store to promote Judo for Peace products at Judo Grand Slam 2019 in Paris.
"All the funds JFP generates from selling its merchandise goes to charitable projects worldwide were judokas can benefit with much needed judogis or tatamis they cannot afford," says Project Manager Miikka Neuvonen, who together with Esa Niemi, Commissionner for the IJF Judo for Peace Commission, was promoting the brand in Paris in February.
DISCOVER THE JUDO FOR PEACE WEBSTORE
“The JFP Commission is always coming up with new initiatives to help out. I hope judo fans will discover our webstore online. Currently, here at the Paris Grand Slam, we have mounted a pop-up store to make people aware of what we do", said Miikka.
The webshop was launched a year ago. “We informed all national judo federations and we hope that the judo community will start ordering the Judo for Peace merchandise in large quantities. It’s a cool way to promote judo and of course there is the peace aspect."
"Another important fact is that all products we sell are from the Danish brand ‘Neutral’, one of the best ecological brands in the world. So, sustainability is a forte here while just helping to make the world a bit of a better place.”
“Everybody looks at the items and likes them at the events, but that’s not enough. The events serve as a promotional tool, but the main thing is the webshop which is open 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. It also accepts all international payment methods,” explained Miikka.
INSTEAD OF HONORING YOUR BEST ATHLETES WITH A TROPHY THIS YEAR, WHY NOT WITH A PERSONALIZED JFP T-SHIRT FOR A CHANGE?
Paris Grand Slam is always a special experience. Where else would you see people queuing in front of the stadium an hour before the first preliminaries kick off. The atmosphere was outstanding and French judo lovers showed why the best judokas in the world wanted to show their very best.
Judo for Peace -webstore does promotional pop-up stands every now and then in major judo tournaments around the world and we are happy that many of the spectators found our stand and bought their souvenirs. Remember that by buying our merchandise, children in need throughout the world might be the lucky ones receiving something from us whether its tatamis, judogis or maybe a shirt.
One thing we haven’t maybe succeeded in sharing is that you can add your club logo or your sponsors logo in the outfits when purchasing bigger quantities at once. For bigger orders, please contact either me or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Furthermore, we are in search of sponsors for our clothes. If you have some in mind, don’t hesitate to contact us as JFP is here to stay and we would like to be able to help as many as possible through our initiative.
So go and get yours now, shipments are done throughout the world!
With best regards,
judoforpeace.net Project manager
Former Secretary General of Finnish Judo Association
+358 50 309 8249
IJF Judo for Peace Commissioner
More On Oy Ltd is an official partner of JFP Collection License Products
+358 40 528 9005
+358 9 6844 9920
A NEW HOME FOR THE REFUGEES IN MEHEBA, ZAMBIA
(Text and photos by Nicolas Messner, Head Director of Judo for Peace)
On December 19th, as the end of year approaches and most of the dojo's around the world are going to close their doors to celebrate the new year, a brand new dojo was opened in the Maheba Refugee settlement, 700km from Lusaka, the capital city of Zambia.
Family picture in front of the new dojo in Meheba Refugee Settlement - Judo for Peace and Education
Financed by the Norwegian Olympic and Paralympic Committee and Confederation of Sports (NIF), the venue was inaugurated by the IJF Judo for Peace director, Nicolas Messner, in the presence of the President of the Zambian Judo Association (ZJA), also President of the National Olympic Committee of Zambia (NOCZ), Alfred Foloko, who was accompanied by executive committee members of the judo federation, by representatives of the Zambian Government, local authorities, camp leaders and UNHCR (United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees) delegate.
More over the stars of the day were the young refugee judoka themselves, who will from now on, benefit of the new dojo, which is meant to become a true home to all of them, as they had already suffered too much in recent years.
The Maheba project was officially launched in November 2016, within the framework of the ZJA structure development plan (Olympic Solidarity programme). Quickly identified as a potential starting point, Maheba was just waiting for a coach to initiate the judo activities. In January 2016, when Faustin, a black belt judoka, arrived in the camp, aged 32, after having escaped from his home country, where is life was in danger, the project enter into action. Thus Faustin was designated as the coach. He stared with a dozen of children, with the equipments provided by the Federation.
Faustin explains to all the refugee judoka what will be the schedule of the inauguration
One year later, the group of judoka reached already 100 members. It is on the occasion of the second inspection visit of the Judo for Peace commission in October 2017 (which was accompanied by the representative of NIF, Diane Huffman, and of the 'Judo for Fred' commission of the Norwegian Judo Federation, Birgit Ryningen), that a clear situation of the needs could be established that led to the building of the dojo in the last semester of 2018.
For Faustin, this sounds like a miracle: “Life is harsh here. We are far away, isolated. We have suffered a lot over the past years, when we had to flee our respective countries (more than ten African countries are represented among the refugees) and to settled down here. We have to rebuilt everything, including ourselves. To live here, we had to become farmers, which was not the case for all of us. I was graduated from university at home, some of us had a job in an administration, but here this is different. This dojo in Meheba is a real miracle. I was a black belt before arriving here but I couldn't imagine that judo would give me such a second chance. Thank to the hard work of everyone, this is becoming a reality. This dojo is beautiful and we are gonna be able to welcome more children who will learn our sport and its values.
Until now, Faustin and his assistant coaches, have been organizing judo five days a week, from Monday to Friday, starting with the youngsters in the early afternoon, and continuing with the more advanced judoka late afternoon. The new dojo having been built between two schools, one including a dormitory, it is guaranteed that the number will increase, while judo will stil be proposed to the children of the first place, where it all started. Today, the programme includes more than 200 judoka.
Let the show of the judo demonstration begin
Alfred Foloko, who was present in Maheba and represented both the ZJA and the NOCZ was very happy: “We had a very beautiful day in Maheba. We saw a lot of smiles of the faces of those young people who witnessed many traumas. Judo has the incredible capacity to give back hope. I told to the audience that if their dream was once broken, it was not destroyed and judo will help them to dream again. We have the responsibility to help those children, they are like ours. This dojo is their new home and they have to make it beautiful and keep it in good conditions to welcome more and more people. We are going to keep supporting the programme in Maheba, before we will also move on to other places that need our support. Sport is an incredible tool and especially judo. Once you enter into the dojo, there is no difference any more, we are all the same and we speak one single language, which is judo.“
The Acting Refugee Officer and administrator of the Ministry of Home affairs (Mofya Kaputa) and the representative of the Ministry of Community Development and Social Services (Nyawa Phiri) agreed to say that judo has started to play an important role within the community and they are looking forward to seeing that impact increasing in the near future. When the President of Maheba Sports disciplines representing the provincial sports coordinator of the Ministry of Sport, Youth and Child Development, Kenneth Lingunja, underlined the fact that the dojo being located between two schools, he would be very pleased to see all the children taking part in the sport and that one being integrated within the sport curriculum of the schools of Meheba.
Judo Zambia Judo for Peace team with President Foloko (center)
Nicolas Messner, who has been accompanying the ZJA since the beginning, was very pleased: “Within a few years, we have been able to develop a really powerful and effective project that benefits more and more refugees. This would not have been possible without a strong partnership between all the stakeholders. It's the third time that I come to Maheba, I see that the number increases and that the level follows, thanks to Faustin and his team. We have the proof here, that judo can definitely bring peace and maybe more important, inner peace after the trauma the refugees went through. Cutting the ribbon today and opening the doors of the dojo was a very emotional moment for all of us.“
The new dojo will for sure change the lives of many children and young people in Maheba as it has already started. Since the inception of the Judo for Peace programme and with the support of all the partners involved, refugees were able to leave the camp to participate in Competition throughout the country and they already obtained their first medals. This will develop in 2019, especially since the UNHCR representative mentioned that he believes in what judo and sport can bring to the community, thus he wants to be more involved. There are still a lot to do though, and the IJF, ZJA, NOCZ, NIF, Government... will keep working hard to welcome more partners on board and to help more people.
Judoroo Jr., the little mascot that went to space with French Astraunot, Thomas Pesquet, is now traveling the world and was also present on the occasion of the dojo inauguration
During the afternoon, the young judoka wanted to talk to the IJF representatives and therefore a very open and friendly exchange took place in the brand new dojo. All of them said as one: “We value this place and we will make it our home. From here we hope and we believe we can have a better life. Maybe one day, we'll be able to participate in big competition under the refugee banner. That would be amazing, and we will always remember that it all started here. Thank you for what you have bene doing for us. We will never forget.“
Judo For Peace Newsletter, November 2018
OFFICIAL JUDO FOR PEACE COLLECTION PRODUCTS – BUY A T-SHIRT AND HELP A CHILD SOMEWHERE IN THE WORLD
Judo has become one of the most favorite sports around the world, and that is why the International Judo Federation (IJF), the flag-bearer of fair competing, decided to establish a special Judo For Peace Commission some ten years ago already, to promote the idea of Peace - in its all forms, in all parts of the world.
The IJF Judo for Peace Program is based on the philosophy of Judo in combination with the sports educating system to attain peace and reconciliation in conflict regions, post-conflicts areas and places with social disorders, in order to help the development of a better society.
You may know that the Judo for Peace commission visited twice the Kilis refugee camp in southern Turkey: the project started with 50 children in 2014 and now includes more than 500 boys and girls.
You also may know that in January 2016, the IJF won the Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum Creative Sports Award in Dubai, with its project in the Kilis Syrian refugee camp. 500 children from the refugee camp received sports equipment and clothes. Other projects that Judo for Peace has been involved in are Maheba refugee settlement in Zambia and Dzaleka refugee camp in Malawi.
YOU DON'T JUST BUY A T-SHIRT – YOU HELP A CHILD
These above mentioned examples are only few of many projects where Judo for Peace program is helping, supporting and connecting people, to promote the idea of Peace. By spreading the all-important message of Peace, peaceful contending, by presenting tatamis and judo outfits, by organizing Judo training schools, camps and courses, by hiring qualified training staff – where the help is needed - has proved a simply magnificent tool against young people facing exclusion.
By purchasing any of the items of the Judo for Peace Collection, your invaluable input will go directly to where the help is needed most: the benefits of the selling price and income of the JFP Collection's products will go directly to Judo for Peace work. This financial support helps to organize more and better judo training schools, camps and courses all over the world.
SPECIAL OFFER – IF YOU BUY THREE OF THE SAME T-SHIRT OR HOODIE YOU GET AN EXTRA ONE FOR FREE
Support the important Judo for Peace work now. If you purchase three of the same official Judo for Peace Collection grey T-shirts, grey hoodies with or without zip you get one for free – buy three items and get four instead of three!
This special season’s offer is valid until 31th December, 2018.
For bigger quantities or special printing, for example, if you would like to print your National Judo Federation’s or local team’s logo on the JFP Collection's products, please, contact More On Ltd and ask for an offer. Cooperation partners and sponsors can also have their own logo printed on JFP Collection products.
“Judo is not merely a martial art but rather the basic principle of human behavior,” Jigiro Kano the founder of Judo.
Leandra Freitas (POR, former judo athlete) & Ruben Houkes (NED, World Champion and Olympic Medallist)
A few weeks ago, several Finnish judo clubs received a much anticipated delivery of equipments as the IJF has been working with the Judo Federation to develop the Judo for School programme.
Among the donation were tatamis and judogis to launch various judo related school activities. Altogether six clubs ranging from East to West to South of Finland are now taking part in the first chapter of this positive and powerful programme and only after a few weeks, all initiatives are already in progress.
It is a happy atmosphere that prevailed at the Jigoku judo club in the city of Lieksa (one of the most Eastern points in the European Union) as the participants highlighted their Judo for School programme. Jigoku club members praised the IJF initiative to spread judo and its values to every corner of the world. The tatami was filled with young judoka of different age groups and different backgrounds. New adherents joined the club and could get familiar with the judo values.
One of the Judo for Schools project leaders commented: “We are one of the participants in the International Judo for Schools Project and we got a donation for that. Practically speaking, this means that we are going to organize more judo sessions at schools. Even if we have been doing that for a long time, we are convinced that this is a good recruitment tool.“
During the development of the Judo for School programme, Esa Niemi, IJF Judo for Peace commissioner, took the occasion to explain to the children of the Vantaa City the goals and aims of the Judo for Schools and Judo for Peace programme and rewarded the most active participants with t-shirts, while Pupils from the City of Vaasa took their first steps on the brand new tatami and started to learn the basics of judo.
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JUDO FOR PEACE IN SOMALIA
Life is back to Somalia, text and photos by Nicolas Messner on 15th May 2018.
Somalia was the most dangerous country in the world for many years and conflicts have put the African country in a difficult situation. Despite the difficult surroundings, judo has been able to gain ground in Somalia and now the young judo federation has received support from the International Judo Federation.
Due to the difficult situation in the country, organizing sports is not easy. Despite that, judo has been able to spread and there are now a few clubs in the country. “This is a very good first step”, says the judo federation.
In order to help the development of judo for children and competitive judo, the International Judo Federation has sent 20 competition Judogi, 50 training Judogi and 150 children Judogi to Somalia, in order to start activities. "There are a huge number of Somali young people who are interest in our sport. So far, they could not really practice but this time we will let them know that it's possible and we will let their dream happen. After a long period of war and anarchy in Somalia, there are so many generations who missed the possibly to practice sport and have fun doing it. We will offer them that chance.“, says president of the federation Jurshe Abdullahi Mohamed. “The judogi received from the IJF will be of great help", the federation continued.
Donations will make it possible to start a new adventure and help children start the sport. The federation is now looking forward to more development and is hoping to be able to develop Judo for Peace activities in a near future.
Text and photos by Nicolas Messner.
Are you interested in Judo for Peace official license products, bigger quantities of Judo for Peace Collection product or special products and printing for local national federation´s or local judo team´s use?
Judo for Peace online store selling clothes and other JFP merchandise was launched today during the Düsseldorf 2018 Judo Grand Slam. The aim is to create more funds for the excellent work done by the International Judo Federation IJF Judo for Peace -Commission.
JFP Collection launch in Judo Grand Slam Dusseldorf, 23.-24.2.2018 – The Peace Statement Wear
Author: Mark Pickering, on 24. Feb 2018
JUDO FOR PEACE INTRODUCED TO A NEW AUDIENCE THIS WEEKEND
The IJF’s Judo for Peace programme was connected to the IJF World Judo Tour like never before this weekend as a stand in the venue’s main concourse presented the vital and life-changing work of the sport’s governing body who are committed to using judo as a tool for peace in societies across the world.
JUDO FOR PEACE STAND AT THE ISS DOME
Eco-friendly clothing apparel bearing the Judo for Peace logo was for sale with the money being reinvested to fund new projects as more and more countries are seeing that judo is a vehicle to make a difference and to initiate plans for peace.
Mr. Nicolas MESSNER, IJF Judo for Peace Head Director, said: “As the JFP Director I can say the project that has been led by Mr. Esa NIEMI, President of the Finish Judo Federation and JFP Commission member, and his team is fantastic and it will help to develop more actions. The Judo for Peace Commission aims to support people who have witnessed a war or conflict and trauma or who are facing social problems. Through judo we can help them as this is the case in Turkey (Kilis refugee camp), in Zambia (Maheba refugee settlement), in Malawi (Dzaleka refugee camp) and in South Africa with the Judo for the World programme.
Mr. Miikka NEUVONEN, Assistant to Mr Esa NIEMI, is present in Düsseldorf and said: “The booth is organised in partnership with the German Judo Federation and we have already had a lot of interest and questions about the IJF’s work and how countries benefit from the programme. We encourage everyone in Düsseldorf to come and visit the booth and to take a lot at what we have for sale this weekend. For those abroad you can find out more information and buy our products online at JudoForPeace.net. We hope to greet as many people as possible in Germany and look forward engaging with all members of the judo family.”
Mr. Peter FRESE, German Judo Federation President and Judo for Peace Commission member, explained how the programme came to be represented in Germany. “I am very passionate about judo’s ability and power to impact societies and it’s important to me to show this at our first Grand Slam in Germany. In judo we all know the values which make our sport special but not everyone knows these and we must work hard to change that. Judo is about friendship and respect, which judo shows more than any other sport, and lots of fans have learned more about the IJF’s work in the Judo for Peace programme this weekend. “Judo is a way to achieve peace and that is something that we can all be proud of.”
Welcome online shopping to Judo for peace online store: www.judoforpeace.net
Thank you for great games!
Mr Uemura Haruki, World Promotion Director of the IJF, President of Kodokan, President of the Japanese Judo Federation, member of the IJF Hall of Fame, 10 dan greetings Judo For Peace team.