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04.03.2010 13:45

“You are stronger than the Barça players”

Marc Parramon (enviat especial)

FC Barcelona president Joan Laporta, and the general manager of the Foundation, Marta Segú, are leading the expedition to a refugee camp in Kiziba, Rwanda.

Laporta, after getting a first hand view of Kiziba and how the people live there, has told the refugees that “you are stronger than the Barça players … the first team players are very proud that the Foundation is working for refugees.”

Visit to Memorial Center

The representatives had an early start and visited the Memorial Center in Kigali at seven in the morning. This space was constructed in memory of the people that died in the genocide of 1994. 800,000 lost their lives in just two montsh as a result of the conflict between the Hutu and Tutsi. Laporta, Segú, director Magda Oranich and corporate director general Joan Oliver examined the various objects in the centre, with the hope than nothing like this ever happens again.

Trip to refugee camp

17426.jpgAfter a three hour car journey, they arrived in the northeast of the country, close to Lake Kivu, where the Kiziba refugee camp is situated, the impromptu home to more than 18,500 people. They were met by ACNUR representative, Manuel Dos Santos, and watched a traditional dance of the Democratic Republic of Congo.

Inauguration of multifunctional centre

Joan Laporta cut the tape to open the new multifunctional centre in the refugee camp, which was constructed by the FCB Foundation and will be used for cultural activities and lectures. The refugees showed their gratitude by presenting the Barça president with the club crest carved out of local wood.


In his speech, Joan Laporta explained why FC Barcelona is more than a club and encouraged the whole community to embrace the new educational project: “Thanks to everybody for putting their hearts into this. The best sporting decision I ever made was to develop the Foundation to help people like you”.

Laporta ended by thank them in the local Kinyaruanda language, emotionally saying “urakoze”.

Tour of the camp

They were then shown around the site, and looked at the homes and roads and how the people eat, wash the dishes and take care of their personal hygiene. They also went to the Health Centre and the School, which has more than 100 classrooms. The children welcomed them with cries of “Barça! Barça!”.

“It means a lot to us”

Arsene Hanyrwa, aged 16, is one of the refugees at the camp. He knows all the Barça players and says his favourites are Xavi, Messi and Puyol. He was delighted with everything. “I can’t believe the president of Barça has come here. We are very happy. It means a lot to us”. Arsene plays football four times a week, and watched Barça games whenever they appear on Rwandan television.

David Mugisha, a refugee of 13 years, loves Barça because they always win and have such good players. “And I also like them because they promote sport for everybody and help our refugee camp”.

All kinds of workshops

They then went to visit a sewing workshop and what they call GIA (Income Generating Activities). Here, young women were learning to make necklaces, bracelets and other things.

They day ended with a huge family photo of everybody at the refugee camp with the Barcelona expedition.
“You are stronger than the Barça players”
Official reception
On arrival in Rwanda, the FC Barcelona reps were given an official welcome at Hotel Serena in Kigali at 22.30. It was attended by the Minister of the Interior, Musoni Janes, the Minister for Sport and Culture, Joseph Habineza, representatives of the United Nations agencies, ambassadors of different countries like Japan, the UK, Holland, Uganda and Congo. They were joined by members of the Government of Kigali and from the local ACNUR offices. The Barça president, Joan Laporta, gave a small speech before the traditional exchange of gifts.

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