Hours and hours of walking, a dangerous several-day boat-crossing, an often inhumane treatment by smugglers, all exacerbated by the fear of the unknown, to perish before reaching the end destination, the uncertainty and the fear of never seeing one's family ever again: without having experienced this oneself, it's hard to really imagine the suffering endured by millions of refugees around the world. Yonas Kindé, however, understands what it means to flee his home in search for a better life. The Ethiopian who now lives in Luxembourg is one of ten refugees of #TeamRefugees, a team participating in the 2016 Olympics Games in Rio de Janeiro, entirely composed of refugees.
Yonas, 36, had to leave his country because it was too dangerous for him to continue living there. 'I left because of political problems,' he said. Since 2013, he lives in Luxembourg under international protection. Here, the marathon runner is training on a regular basis with Yves Göldi, his coach. 'At first Yonas was only running distances of 10 km and half marathons. Last year, he won a marathon. His performance was so good, he would have qualified for the Luxembourg Olympic team, were he Luxembourgish', he explains. Yonas got to know some people in Luxembourg who support him; a country that is still a little foreign to him and whose languages he still does not speak all. This is why he regularly attends French lessons. To make a living, he works as a taxi driver.
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Generally, he trains once a day, but when he heard of the refugee team for the Olympics, he began to train twice a day, so badly he wanted to join it. Yonas says he is glad of his nomination at #TeamRefugees. 'When I was told the news, I had a great shot of motivation and energy,' he said, adding that the creation of a team of refugees is 'very good news for world of refugees'. The International Olympic Committee (IOC) and the Office of the United Nations for Refugees (UNHCR), are responsible for creating this team with the aim to send a message of hope to all refugees in the world and attract everyone's attention on the scale of the refugee crisis. 'These refugee athletes show the world that despite the unimaginable tragedies they experienced, they too can, like everyone, put their talent, skills and strength of mind in the service of society', says Thomas Bach, IOC President.
For the 2016 Summer Olympic Games, Yonas and his coach have one single goal: 'Make the best possible run, be competitive and why not even win a medal."
(Article written by the editorial team of the portal www.luxembourg.lu)