Run for solidarity: Break barriers, open doors!

21 Feb 2014

Run for solidarity: Break barriers, open doors!

Three, two, one, GO! So started the first run for solidarity held in Kinshasa on 7th December 2013. What was important on this day was not to be the fastest runner, but to show a sense of solidarity and togetherness and make a pledge for an inclusive society. Beyond the sporting challenge, exchange and friendliness were the keywords of the day.

On Saturday, early in the morning, despite the pouring rain, no less than 127 runners were on the starting line at MONUSCO Headquarters, transformed for the occasion into a sports field. Being the first event of this kind in Kinshasa, the race gathered able bodied runners and runners living with disabilities, amateurs and athletes, to run 8 km side by side. Under the disability category were sixteen runners in wheel chairs, seven blind and four deaf. Participants not only ran for fun, but also for helping children living with a disability. Their challenge: To raise enough funds to rehabilitate school infrastructures, suitable for children living with disabilities, in poverty-striven areas of Kinshasa.

Besides calling for solidarity, the intention of the race was to make a pledge for an inclusive society, a society where everybody has equal opportunities in life. ‘‘The race was a time of exchange and sharing between able bodied runners and runners living with disabilities, said Robert Dizakolele, President of the Congolese Paralympic Federation. This is good! This makes me think that volunteerism and sport share common values. Those are solidarity, mutual aid and social cohesion. Like volunteerism, sport can be a vehicle to promote social inclusion, integration and equal participation.’’

Under the initiative of the UNV programme in DRC, the Run for Solidarity was organized in partnership with the National Secretariatof Volunteerism and the SubCluster Handicap on the occasion of two international days: IVD and International Day of People Living with Disabilities held on December 3d. The race raised up to 3085 USD. This amount has been handed over to the SubCluster Handicap who will manage the rehabilitation of two primary schools in Lemba and Ngaba.

According to estimates, there are over 9.1 million people with disabilities in DRC. This represents 11% of the worldwide population living with a disability. Despite the fact that the DRC recently ratified the UN Convention on the Rights of People Living with Disabilities, the situation remains challenging. Disability strikes mainly the poorest populations due to lack of resources and information. Disabled people are also more to face discrimination to gain access to education, health care, to get a job and to participate in politics and to fall into poverty.