The refugee programme initiated by the IJF in South Africa several months ago and led by Sensei Roberto Orlando (ITA - selected from the IJF Academy students, level 2) is in full swing. As the end of the year approaches, it was time for Roberto Orlando to draw an exhaustive list of the amazing achievements that were made over the past weeks.

Main Activities
In November, judo training session were held at Mayfair, Rosettenville, Doornfontain and Hillbrow as well as at the Holy Family School, while as from an administrative point of view, coordination meetings took place with UNHCR in Pretoria and with the Italian Consul in Johannesburg. A new Facebook page with all the activities is now available online at CLICK HERE

The beneficiaries of the programmer participated to a friendly tournament in Roodepoort on the 25th of November.

"Over the past weeks, we have consolidated activities in the 5 dojos of Mayfair, Holy Family, Doornfontein, Rosettenville and Hillbrow", explained Roberto Orlando, before adding: "As a consequence we have now 2 dojos in Johannesburg centre (Doornfontain and Hillbrow), 1 dojo in theWest (Mayfair), 1 dojo in the South (Rosettenville) and the full amount of IJF donated tatami are now in use."

In Mayfair and Doornfontain the attendance has steadily increased throughout the year with and an average of 60 people in Mayfair and 35 in Doornfontain are regularly present on the tatami.

In the new 2 dojos of Rosettenville and Hillbrow a good attendance and interest was already noticed with and average of 15 children. Outreach Foundation has availed the hall at Hillbrow and has supported the project with the printing and distribution of 5'000 leaflets advertising the activities.

During November, Mr. Roberto Orlando handed over more than 25 judo uniforms in Mayfair and Doornfontain. Equipment are given against the deposit of a symbolic sum which is used to maintain the dojo and to support the Congolese coach assistants (Mr. Whynnock and Josias). But this is also adapted to every situation explained the coach as judogi can be handed over without the deposit, when children without means or children who showed regular attendance and judo values (friendship, discipline and respect) are identified: "The payment of the deposit is a necessary measure to ensure that the uniforms are not lost; moreover the payment of a deposit makes sure that the people attending the dojo are fully committed."

Coach Assistants
Mr. Orlando is pleased to say: "Josias and Whynock (brown belts), asylum seekers from the Democratic Republic of Congo, have volunteered to assist me in the conduction of judo activities in Johannesburg. They are very eager to learn and it is my intention to coach them in the processof improving judo skills (black belt and instructor course). Over the past months I have delegated to them some minor activities so to help them taking gradually more responsibilities. Both of them have demonstrated a good capacity of dealing with children, organizational skills and cultural awareness. Their passion for judo is authentic and they are interested in pursuing a judo career (so to get a black belt from JSA and possibly join the Instructor course of the IJF Academy)."

Josias assists the coach for the judo activities in Doornfontein, Rosettenville and Holy Family, whereas Whynnock assists him in Mayfair and Hillbrow.

Judo South Africa is very supportive and discussions are under process to study the possibility of integrating the new dojos into the South African system. Thus the new Judo for the World dojos will be part of the JSA system and players will be recorded in Judo South Africa. They will also benefit of reduced fees for joining competitions.

JSA has been showing strong support to the Judo for the World project during the World Judo Day (food and gifts for the refugees), Nelspruit Competition (accommodation and food for the refugees), Children Competition on 25th of November (free of charge and medals).

The Children team competition in Roodepoort on 25th of November saw 15 children from the dojo of Doornfontein and Mayfair competing with children from Johannesburg district.

Roberto Orlando was also very please to receive from now on l'Esprit du judo magazine of France, as the editing company has granted a free copy to the francophone dojo of Doornfontein.

An important meeting with the Italian Consul in Johannesburg took place on the 15th of November. The project has been praised and the consul has promised to help the programme with fundraising -- through Italian companies and foundations. A fundraising leaflet has been developed for this purpose and shared with the consul.

New location to extend the programme are under studying. For instance, a request for space availability at Yaoville Recreational Centre was made. The area is located in central Johannesburg where Congolese Nigerian and Ethiopian refugee communities live. Due to the popularity of judo among Congolese refugees, this location should be successful. In the upcoming months, Mr. Roberto Orlando will continue his amazing work and Judo exchange between dojos and joint training at an external dojo in Johannesburg are already planned as well as visits to other South African Cities and we will report more about this wonderful project in the months to come.

See also