Wilfried Lemke visits Burundi, Just before the Christmas break, during a trip to Africa, Wilfried Lemke (the Special Adviser to the Secretary-General of the United Nations on Sport for Development and Peace), made a stop in Bujumbura, the capital of Burundi, in order to follow up a number of projects supported by the United Nations.
Among the visited projects, Mr. Lemke could watch the Turikumwe program, which has been supported by the International Judo Federation and the Judo for Peace commission for many years and managed by the Burundian Judo Federation (FBJ) and its national and international partners.
For the past 6 years (since 2006), the project has been allowing an exponential development of judo in the country, the Federation counting about 15 clubs and 1000 judoka in 2012, where it was only 3 clubs and a few dozen of judoka in 2006.
Today, judo is cited as an example in Burundi and it begins to shine outside the borders of the country, as the FBJ currently accompanies the Young Judo Federation of Rwanda, which has been redeveloping for the last two years after the horrors of wars witnessed in the Great Lakes region.
In a letter to the IJF President, Lemke described his excitement after he saw the substantive work that is undertaken on a daily basis to restore the will to live together of the battered populations:
“I am pleased to be able to write to you today after a successful visit to Bujumbura, Burundi, on 5 and 6 December. Let me use this opportunity to express my sincere appreciation for the International Judo Federation’s (IJF) active engagement and contributions in Sport for Development and Peace projects.
Your Federation is one amongst those which have established a specific structure for a coordinated social engagement in international grassroots sport at an early point in time. The work of your Federation and, in particular, the Judo for Peace commission is an important and acclaimed contribution to Sport for Development and Peace and I look forward to continuing the support of this work.
During my stay in Bujumbura I had the chance to visit a Judo for Peace project and I was pleased to see an example of a best practice activity.
In this regard, I would particularly like to commend Bernard Messner, who was present in Bujumbura with me and provided valuable insight into the local situation and the work of the IJF, and Jan Eirik Schiotz who initiated and suggested the visit of the select project and has been a reliable partner for a number of years.
It was through Valery Manirakiza, President of the Burundi Judo Federation, that my visit was very well coordinated between your Federation and my offices.
Allow me to take this opportunity to express my gratitude for your personal involvement in the field of Sport for Development and Peace. I look forward to future collaboration with the IJF which will begin already in January 2012 during the UNOSDP Youth Leadership Camp in Doha, Qatar.”
Actually, as early as next week, the IJF will be present in Doha for the organization of the UNOSDP Youth Leadership Camp. During the event, practical judo courses will be given to young leaders so that they learn about our sport, while Jan Eirik Schiotz, the Judo for Peace Director, will detail the philosophy of Judo for Peace.
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