You Can Now Light Up Refugee Camps by Working Out
"Now more than ever the Olympic movement has the power to bring people together."
Try hitting a baseball in the dark. Getting a rebound once a court’s lights dim. Blocking a shot after sunset.
It’s not easy. In fact, you’ll probably end up frustrated or injured.
For refugees stuck in camps throughout the world, light is rare. According to the UN, nine out 10 refugees in camps lack access to light once the sun sets.
That essentially puts activity for the day to an end and it means people who turn to sport for diversion, training, and exercise have to pack up.
In the run-up to the Winter Olympics, the UNHCR and the International Olympics Committee are trying to change that — and they’re calling on all lovers of exercise to help.
In a campaign video produced by Publicis London and Poke, the details of the project are described.
People around the world are invited to “donate” their exercise activity to refugees, which will then be used to power the Mahama refugee camp in northern Rwanda, home to over 55,000 refugees, according to the UNHCR.
If that sounds like a leap of imagination, it is and it isn’t. People are asked to register their fitness trackers by logging onto olympicchannel.com/light. Every step of specified activity will then translate to a “spark” of electricity for the Rwandan refugee camp. The goal is to get each volunteer to donate 5,000 steps of activity daily.
That engagement will then go toward funding lights in refugee camps to allow for after-dark physical activity.
“Sport can be a lifeline for young refugees uprooted by conflict and violence, forced to abandon their homes, communities and even their families,” said UN High Commissioner for Refugees Filippo Grandi in a press release. “Sport restores childhood. It helps to heal and restore a sense of normalcy, offering a safe space where children can grow, learn and develop. By providing sustainable, solar powered lighting in refugee camps, we can boost sport and education opportunities for young refugees.”
Ultimately, the project is meant to get people to see the Olympics as a unifying force. Historically, the Olympics have empowered women, challenged racial injustice, and brought people from different backgrounds together.
Global Citizen campaigns on helping refugees and you can take action on this issue here.
One of the most captivating stories from the 2016 Olympics in Rio centered on a refugee team competing in a variety of events. The plight of refugees continues today — globally, there are around 65.6 million displaced people around the world, the highest total in recorded history.
Bringing light to the Mahama camps will ease this plight for some refugees.
“Our hope is that people will be inspired by the films to consider the connection they have with athletes and with others," Rebecca Lowell-Edwards, IOC strategic communications director told AdAge. "Now more than ever the Olympic movement has the power to bring people together."