What a strange and wonderful concept . . . Running toward something instead of running away from something. Ten athletes without a country will compete in the Rio Olympic Games. They are refugees. They have persevered after losing home and country, some after losing parents.
These ten refugee athletes will act as a symbol of hope for 21.3 million refugees worldwide and bring global attention to the magnitude of the refugee crisis when they take part in the Olympic Games Rio 2016.
One of the refugee athletes, Yusra Mardini, is a swimmer. About two years ago, Mardini was swimming to save her life and others. She was one of 20 refugees crossing the Mediterranean Sea in a boat when the motor stopped running.
Mardini fled the Syrian war in 2014 with her sister, who was with her on the boat. They dived into the water with one other passenger and pushed the boat to the shore. Everyone on board was saved.
She will compete for the Refugee Olympic Team (ROT) – the first of its kind. They marched proudly into the Olympic Stadium at the opening ceremony immediately before the host nation, Brazil, waving the Olympic flag.
How important a lesson we can learn from these athletes! How to survive in crisis. How to find strength and hope in the midst of loss. How to thrive after losing home. How to keep trying when others might have given up.
I am moved by their bravery, their tenacity and their resilience. I pray for good things to come to them. I pray that the world will be inspired by their example, to lift our eyes up to hope, to move forward into brighter days, to always strive to be the best we can be.