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Syrian Refugee Carries Olympic Flame for 2016 Games in Rio

After carrying a dream for 20 years, and after a lifetime’s worth of devastation, Ibrahim Al Hussein, a Syrian refugee now living in Greece, finally got to achieve his dream and participate in the 2016 Olympic Games held in Rio De Janeiro.   On 26th of April, Ibrahim proudly carried the Olympic flame in Athens as part of the torch relay for the 2016 Games in Rio de Janeiro. This 27-year-old man lost his leg in 2014 during the Syrian war and later fled to Greece, where he found refuge and medicine, along with a brighter future.

Sports has always been a major part of Ibrahim’s life. He grew up playing sports like swimming, basketball, and judo. His father, a swim coach, was the one who planted the love of swimming in him and his 13 other siblings. They have been swimming since age five, participating in many local and national competitions.

After a few months in Greece, Ibrahim sought help from the Greek Council for Refugees, which is an NGO that  provides legal and social support to people in need of international protection. GCR’s attorney, Katerina Komita says “He never said, ‘I used to be a good athlete’, he’d say, ‘I am a good athlete’.”

A few months ago, Jacques Rogge, honorary president of the International Olympic Committee, announced that a refugee would carry the Olympic torch on behalf of refugees worldwide, and it turned out Ibrahim was selected to do so.

“I am carrying the flame for myself, but also for Syrians, for refugees everywhere, for Greece, for sports, for my swimming and basketball teams,” Ibrahim told the United Nations Refugee Agency, UNHCR, in an interview. “My goal is to never give up. But to go on, to always go forward. And that I can achieve through sports.”

He ran with the flame through Eleonas, a temporary accommodation site in Athens for 1,500 refugees. This is a symbolic movement to show solidarity with all refugees around the world. It is also an inspiration for all people with disabilities, showing them that with perseverance any dream can become a reality! And Ibrahim is a living example of such determination!

Don’t forget to smile 🙂 !


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Israa Elkhatib

I was born in Palestine but raised with the fireflies in Georgia. My teenage years were spent being the Muslim nerd who was known as the bookworm of the school. That followed me back to Palestine, to develop into being the girl with the big vocabulary. I spent most of my high-school days cursing Newton for not eating that apple. My English Literature Bachelor's degree was only obtained because I'm a nerd for literature and my minor in Translation pretty much pays the bills, thank you Birzeit University.Creative writing is my passion and reading is my escape from reality into a world where everything is the way you imagine it to be.

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