GENEVA – Today there are four million refugees living in more than 230 refugee camps worldwide without access to adequate lighting. This means that once night falls almost all activity ends. The effects of this are stark.
There is no option for family or community gatherings or activities; no possibility for work, sports, culture, education or music.
It can be dangerous for refugees to do even the most mundane of activities like walking to the washroom or going to see a friend—especially for women and girls who are exposed to a significant risk of sexual and gender-based violence.
Through its “Become the Light” campaign the International Olympic Committee (IOC) has teamed up with UNHCR to bring light to residents of Mahama refugee camp in northern Rwanda, which is home to over 55,000 refugees who have fled violence in neighboring Burundi.
At 0600 pm when the sun sets the entire camp races home and communal life ends. Perhaps most tragically, refugee students in the camp can’t do their homework, study or read. This is a particular challenge for them as they have to move from a French-speaking to an English-speaking education system and need as much time as possible to help make this changeover.
The IOC is already running a major sports project in the camp and bringing light to Mahama will allow athletics to continue after dark as well as provide the opportunity for all other forms of community interaction.
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