Since its launch in April 2017, THF’s Kiziba Taekwondo Academy has continued to increase its impact on the lives of the many young Congolese refugees who take part in training sessions every week. Noteworthy recent events include a belt passing test as well as participation in the 2017 Rwanda National Taekwondo Championships. This report also examines how the academy is impacting individual students, this time focusing on Jean-Paul, a young boy born into Kiziba refugee camp.
In October, the project head instructors, Eugene Ntawangundi and Alex Sengabo, conducted the very first belt passing test for students at the Kiziba academy. In whole, 49 academy students aged 6 to 21 took part and were able to progress to yellow and even blue belts. Belt passing tests are part of THF’s overall taekwondo programme and offer students a fun competitive alternative to usual training sessions. Being able to pass from one belt to another also allows the participants to track their overall progress and provides them with a sense of accomplishment.
Another important event which took place in the last trimester was the Rwanda National Taekwondo Championships, which were held in Kigali, the country’s capital city, from the 11th to the 13th of December. 8 players from THF’s Kiziba Academy took part and won 2 bronze medals. Such events are good opportunities for academy students to experience life outside of refugee camps and we hope that many more will be able to experience this in the future.
Whilst it is important to mention such events when examining the success of our academies, it is imperative to communicate with individual students to understand how exactly they have been impacted by THF activities. Jean Paul Niyonsenga, one of our Kiziba academy’s students, was born into Kiziba refugee camp and is now 13 years old. Living with both his parents and 6 relatives, the young boy studies at elementary school and had never practiced any sport before joining THF’s academy in March. Taekwondo immediately had an impact on his life, helping him earn better grades at school, notably through improved disciplined. Jean Paul also claims to appreciate the martial art as an Olympic sport and hopes to one day represent his country at international stage, making his family proud.
Due to the success of the academy, THF looks forward to expanding its project in Rwanda to Mahama refugee camp in 2018, where a camp resident who is a taekwondo instructor has already begun to teach the sport to children. THF will support this initiative, providing him with equipment and further instructor training whist also implementing specific educational activities.
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