The Saharawi refugee camp in Tindouf has hosted students of the University of Valencia for a week. There, the volunteers have collaborated with the local population in the hospital, the nursery or the school. They have also participated in the Saharamarathon, a solidarity event aimed at raising funds for humanitarian aid.
The main motivation of this initiative is to raise awareness among students of the University of Valencia (UV) about the needs of disadvantaged populations and those affected by humanitarian crises. Volunteers devote their knowledge as nutritionists to the composition of the menus for those who participate in sports events, in which 450 people participated this year. The University of Valencia got a second place in the 22km test and a first place in the 5km test.
“This is a project for personal and human growth, open to all students of the UV who feel the concern of leaving their comfort zone and see for themselves how capable they are of living in the world with the eyes and the feeling of respect, equity and equality for each and every one of the human beings that inhabit the Earth”, said Mari Olcinas, a student of the degree in nutrition and dietetics at the University of Valencia and participant in this edition of Saharamarathon. “This type of proposal is crucial to know other forms of life and how it is possible to collaborate to improve the conditions of people in an unfavourable situation”, concludes the student.
Since 2007, ADINU (Association of University Dietetics and Nutritionists) has organised several microprojects in refugee camps. One of them is to raise awareness among the people who inhabit them about what hygienic-sanitary guidelines should be followed to avoid parasitism or improve oral health. Residents are also analysed to assess the different degrees of malnutrition they suffer, as well as nutrition-related diseases such as celiac disease, anaemia, diabetes or hypertension. On the ground, the student body also collaborates with other entities, such as the Sahrawi Red Crescent and the World Food Program.
In addition, volunteers also collaborate in the maintenance and improvement of infrastructures (sports centres and hospitals), support and reinforce medical personnel in centres prepared for children with functional diversity or injured by antipersonnel mines and provide school supplies to children.
This collaborative project is linked to the Saharamarathon, a charity sports event born in 2001 with the intention of raising funds in solidarity with the Saharawi people. “This initiative aims to promote sports among the Sahrawi youth and is used to finance humanitarian aid projects. It also aims to raise awareness and international mobilisation in a conflict that has lasted for more than 42 years”, the project website subscribes.