In September 2015, World Taekwondo Federation President addressed the UN to outline the humanitarian initiative.
The Humanitarian initiative is based around capturing the essence of Taekwondo to promote physical fitness, respect and understanding in refugee camps worldwide. President Choue also outlined the World Taekwondo Federation’s plans to support the growing refugee crisis.
How? The Taekwondo Humanitarian Foundation (THF) is set to deploy teams of Taekwondo instructors to teach the art and sport to young people in refugee camps across the globe. As well as keeping individuals active and focussed, Taekwondo is an art that offers a rich philosophy, instilling values of respect and perseverance.
Taekwondo is accessible. It can be practised without complex equipment, and potentially in areas with little or no permanent infrastructure.
Keen to put the initiative into play, the WTF launched the project in Zaatari Refugee Camp, Jordan, at the end of 2015. The launch marked the start of a two-part pilot project, designed to gather momentum for the full-scale operations planned for 2016. The camp welcomed some 14 members of the WTF Taekwondo Demonstration Team, who had flown in especially to be part of a spectacular opening ceremony.
“The opening of this academy will, I hope, help improve the quality of life of refugees resident in this camp,” said Choue.
“I invite anyone in Zaatari who has an interest in physical fitness, sport or self-defence – be they young or old, male or female – to avail themselves of this facility.” (Quotes via World Taekwondo Federation.)
The WTF’s second pilot program will take place in Nepal, where severe struggles following the earthquake catastrophes are still very real. Choue is scheduled to visit the country in late January, along with 15 members of the WTF Demonstration Team.
The Taekwondo Humanitarian Foundation will be born on the back of these precursory projects. The foundation is currently being formally established in Lausanne, Switzerland. Its aim is to dispatch teams of Taekwondo instructors, as well as related educational and medical personnel, to refugee and displaced persons’ camps worldwide.
“The global refugee crisis is one of the greatest challenges facing humanity, and the plight of child refugees, as I have personally witnessed in recent days, is heart-rending. As an Olympic federation, it is the WTF’s responsibility to be part of the solution, and the THF is our vehicle to do that.”
It is not the first time we have seen Taekwondo used as a tool to help others overseas. As Livingwell and Unite Taekwondo delivered help to Sri Lanka last summer, as part of an ongoing initiative.
“British Taekwondo applaud this WTF initiative, inspired by President Choue,” said Acting Chief Executive Officer, Tom Stammer. “We plan to add our full support to making this a success through fund raising etc. We have already sent surplus GB Taekwondo Competition Mats to Jordan, and we look forward to other ways of supporting the Taekwondo Humanitarian Fund.”
Taekwondo is more than a sport, but an art form that endorses the tools to be a confident, resilient, respectful and well balanced individual. To deliver Taekwondo alongside the aid that is so desperately needed in these areas is, we feel, a brilliant initiative.
For information about how to support the Taekwondo Humanitarian Fund once it is fully established, or indeed, the Sri Lanka initiative, watch this space.