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Charity helps Rwanda break new ground at Paralympics

Overseas disability charity CBM has enabled Rwanda to be the first African country to send a women’s team to the Paralympics ...

Overseas disability charity CBM has enabled Rwanda to be the first African country to send a women’s team to the Paralympics, thanks to their sponsorship of the Rwandan women’s sitting volleyball team.
The team of 25 women with disabilities will travel to Rio for the games which take place on 7-18 September 2016.

CBM, the leading overseas Christian and disability organisation transforms the lives of people with or at risk of disabilities in the world’s poorest communities. The funding has provided training for the coaches and referees, weekly training sessions for the team and provision of training equipment, and a training camp.

Through the sponsorship, CBM hopes to highlight sport as a tool for empowerment and inclusion of people with disabilities, widening public awareness at national and local level, and increasing participation of people with disabilities in sport activities in Rwanda.

The team qualified in 2015 by beating Egypt in the African championships. Head coach Peter Karreman from The Netherlands says, “There are many things we have to prepare the team for. Firstly they will encounter a high standard of sitting volleyball, the speed and power of some of the teams will surprise us. Also the cultural differences will shock the team, many have never left Rwanda or been on a plane, so we have to be ready for this too”.

The female athletes all have their own personal stories. Liliane, 26, the team captain was hit by a car at the age of eight which left her permanently disabled. She has two children and runs a clothes shop, and hopes participation in the Paralympics will empower other people with disabilities to get involved.

“Don’t be shy to get involved in disability sports,” she says. “Through participating in sport your disability becomes less significant – it makes you realise just how much you can achieve with your disability.”
Anne Wafula Strike, MBE, a Paralympian and CBM champion, enthused about the sponsorship. “I was thrilled to hear CBM is sponsoring the Rwandan sitting volleyball team in the Paralympics. Not only is the sponsorship giving these women a once in a lifetime opportunity to compete at an international level, but hopefully it will encourage more women with disabilities to get involved in sport too. This is a wonderful achievement and I look forward to watching them compete in Rio.”

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