Arsen Julfalakyan: The visit to the refugee camp affected my thinking

09:00 - 29 Jul, 2019

Olympic silver medalist, world and European champion Greco-Roman wrestler Arsen Julfalakyan has taken part in «Inspire together for peace» program organized by the UN and IOC at the refugee camp for Syrians in Jordan, Azraq.

In a conversation with the ANOC press service Arsen told about the implementation of the program and his participation.

“The program is organized by the UN and IOC. The International Teakwon-Do Federation and United World Wrestling have joined it for the first time. UWW President Nenad Lalovic offered my candidacy: I suppose the reason is my effective and active work in the Athletes Commission. I have represented the UWW at 4-5 conferences and I think they are pleased with the results. It turned out that the days matched me. I was coming back from a training camp and had only 5 days free till the next one and my visit coincided with those 5 days. During the European Games we met with Nenad Lalovic and he personally thanked me for giving my consent to participate in the program. We discussed several issues related both with the program and our further work,” he said.

On the first day the participants had played games with the refugee children and had held a training teaching them wrestling simple techniques as they all had been beginners.

“The main program consisted of two days. The first day was more free, introductory, without cameras. We played with the children, I showed them several tricks, the wrestling alphabet. We gave them sports clothing and shoes. The main program was held on the second day which was attended by Jordan King’s brother, the head of the UN Refugee Agency, president of the International Teakwon-Do Federation, Olympic Committee and National Federations’ staff members. We showed wrestling and teakwondo demonstrative trainings as well as people were give food and clothes, we sang and the day turned into a holiday,” Arsen said.

The Armenian wrestle told it had been the first time he had visited a refugee camp and his impressions were very dual.

“It was the first time, I had read and studied refugee camps before and hadn’t though there would be an opportunity to visit one of them. Compared to other refugee camps all over the world this one was in a good condition and had problems with only electricity and water and of course, food. If I’m not mistaken a person was given $20 per month, and Jordan is an expensive country. It is simply impossible to live with that money. My impressions were very dual and strange. I saw how people were struggling for every day of their lives, how they rejoiced at every little thing, be it clothing or little sweets. This visit affected my thinking. It was indescribable. 50 000 refugees in one place. If I’m not mistaken it was an area of 15km radius where people lived in white little houses. It was an extraordinary experience. I think anyone who was once there will appreciate more his life and will start looking at things differently,” he ended.

Photos from the athlete’s personal archive.

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