With funds provided by the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ), the Branch of the German Caritas Association in Tajikistan (Caritas Germany) supported the initiative of the Tajik National Paralympic Committee to conduct a 30 km inclusive race.
The event brought together 30 athletes (runners, cyclists and wheelchair riders) with and without disabilities from different sports clubs of the country. The inclusive race under the slogan “Never give up!” started from the center of the Fayzobod district (50 km east of Dushanbe) and it took three hours to reach the finish line in the city of Vahdat. Deputy Chairman and other government officials of the Fayzobod district warmly welcomed the athletes and wished them a successful race. To ensure security and safety during the whole race, the Local Government Authority of the Fayzobod district mobilized police vehicles and an ambulance to accompany the athletes to the finish line and put water bottles in designated points alongside the highway. The Tajik National Paralympic Committee and Caritas Germany awarded athletes certificates of honor and prize money amounting to 300 TJS.
This first ever inclusive race was not a competition and a fight for first places. The main goal of the event was to take firm steps towards building an inclusive society and giving opportunity to everyone to demonstrate their abilities to be an equal human, peer support and joint efforts to achieve their goals, and to lead a healthy lifestyle. There is a hope that organizing such events will help accelerate the ratification of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities in the country. We recall that this very important document aimed at protecting the rights and dignity of persons with disabilities was signed by Tajik President Emomali Rahmon on March 22, 2018.
As part of the inclusive race, a day before the event, the Local Government Authority of Roghun city organized a tour to the site of the Roghun Hydropower Plant where the athletes with disabilities were deeply impressed by the progress of construction work.
The inclusive race showed again that sport can help reduce the stigma and discrimination associated with disability because it can transform community attitudes about persons with disabilities by highlighting their skills and reducing the tendency to see the disability instead of the person.
With its own funding and funds provided by BMZ and the European Union, Caritas Germany has been working in Tajikistan since December 2007 with projects aimed at supporting the most vulnerable groups of the population, particularly persons with disabilities, through provision of Community-Based Rehabilitation services, Disability inclusive Disaster Risk Reduction and implementation of income generating activities.