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Campus Now

Spring Verdure Issue (May)


Realizing the power of social contribution through sports

In Tanzania, a road relay race in the spirit of peace

Smiling runners line up before the start of the race.

On February 19th, in the African country of Tanzania, an event entitled “Ekiden for Peace in Tanzania” (ekiden means “road relay race”) was held through the cooperation of the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, the United Nations Population Fund, and the Waseda University Hirayama Ikuo Volunteer Center (WAVOC). The event was planned with the hope that refugees would feel the power of a sport in which all racers carry the sash, work together and aim for the finish line, as well as feel the importance of encouraging and helping each other. This year's event was held in the Ulyankulu refugee settlement in western Tanzania, and marked the second time that the event has been held. Participants in the race included Toshihiko Seko (alumni & WAVOC advisor), who originally proposed holding the ekiden, Yuko Arimori (Goodwill Ambassador for the United Nations Population Fund), and Waseda students including members of the track and field team. Local participants included Burundi refugees, local citizens, and former Olympic athlete Juma Ikangaa.

Mr. Seko and Ms. Arimori passionately discuss the issue of refugees.

A briefing session was held after the event on March 11th at Waseda University. The briefing was attended by Mr. Seko, Ms. Arimori and students who had just returned to Japan. The briefing featured a discussion regarding the meaning of the ekiden event and addressed issues confronting the event. Speakers also voiced concern regarding the problems of African refugees. In particular, students called the event an unforgettable experience and expressed their commitment to taking further actions in the future.

WAVOC also conducts the “Community Tanzania” project, which aims to prevent the destruction of crops by wild elephants in Tanzania and to create coexistence between wild animals and local citizens.