Refugee Camps are gazetted spaces for people who have seasonally lost part of their identity, usually due to conflict, war or natural calamities.

One such space in Uganda is Nakivale Refugee Settlement in the South Western District of Isingiro, near the Tanzania border. The settlement has refugees from the Democratic Republic of Congo, Burundi, Somalia, Rwanda, Ethiopia, and Eritrea.

Like any other community, Refugee Settlements are full of people with lots of potential waiting to be tapped and showcased if and when given opportunities.

It’s up on that notion that Karibu Foundation in partnership with The Gift Of Chess put together a three-day event to create a space for the community at Nakivale to learn and play Chess culminating in the Karibu Refugee Chess Tournament.

“We just wanted to use Chess as a tool of creating independence and telling a story of potential,” Karibu Foundation’s Ronald Twikirize told Kawowo Sports.

“There are stories of potential and hope from the refugee camps that are not limited by circumstances. With Chess being a game of opportunities and community, we created a space for people to unite, get on the chessboard and play.

“We managed to create a point of unity that is going to transcend the times,” he added.

Ibrahim Sora Taro, a youth from the Ethiopian community, highlighted the unity that the three-day event created and was grateful to The Gift of Chess.

“[Karibu Refugee Chess Tournament] has helped us to be united with other people and tribes that we were not united with before. I would like to thank them for the support and I hope they will still be with us,” he said.

Josh Mayele who runs an academy (Raise Chess Academy) in the camp says they receive overwhelming numbers of kids who want to learn the game and getting boards from The Gift of Chess only eases their work.

“We receive about 200 participants every day and many more during holidays. We are able to provide those opportunities to children who want to advance with Chess for those who want to compete.

“We are grateful to The  Gift of Chess, they are doing amazing work of extending chess to communities. For us getting a board is a challenge but through The Gift of Chess are able to get boards so that we continue to extend opportunities in our communities. All I can say is a massive thank you!”

Meanwhile, Twikirize left Nakivale impressed by the potential in the community and he could not quantify it.

“The future of Chess at Nakivale is too bright to be defined. It’s possible to do great things from a small place,” Twikirize concluded.

Franklin Kaweru is the Editor in Chief of Kawowo Sports. He is an ardent basketball enthusiast.

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