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Survivors Go for Gold in Ethiopia
Addis Ababa, Ethiopia – Thirty LSN-Ethiopia survivor-clients and staff participated in a sports competition for people with disabilities from April 24 - 30, 2006.

Ethiopia Network Director, Bekele Gonfa, cheered the LSN team to victory, with an impressive 43 medals -- 15 gold, 14 silver, and 14 bronze. Hosted by the Addis Ababa Sports Federation for the Disabled, the competition featured participants from 28 disability organizations.

Held in the Addis Ababa Stadium, the event provided survivors with the opportunity to interact and socialize with many other people with disabilities from throughout Ethiopia. Survivors were grouped according to their type of disability. Activities included running (100m, 200m, 400m, and 3000m, etc.), shot put, javelin, high jump, table tennis, chess, and wheelchair weight lifting. Twenty-one out of the 30 LSN survivor participants received medals. Three of these survivors were selected as “best sports persons” of the events: Tolosa Gonfa is a below knee amputee who won three gold medals in the 100, 200, and 400 meter competitions; Samuel Abebe is an above knee amputee who also won three gold medals in the 100, 200, and 400 meter competitions; and Hagos Asbeha is a below elbow amputee who won three gold medals in the 100 meter, 200 meter, and high jump competitions.

Subsequent to the April sports competition, 11 of the 21 LSN survivors who medaled competed for spots on the 2008 Ethiopian Paralympic team. Four qualified for the team: Asamnew Negash, one of LSN’s outreach workers, was selected for the javelin and 100 meter competitions; Yonas Fekadu, another LSN outreach worker, was selected to compete in shot put; Gemechu Kotola, an LSN survivor-client, was selected to compete in the 800 meter race; and Negussie Gidey, an LSN survivor-client, was selected to compete in javelin.

Events such as this sports competition are extremely important as they showcase the abilities of people with disabilities. By serving as role models, these sports heroes inspire other people with disabilities to pick up the pieces of their own lives — and stand up to demand the social acceptance, equal rights and economic opportunity they deserve. By defying widely-held stereotypes of people with disabilities, survivor-athletes break down the harmful prejudices that prevent landmine victims from taking their rightful place in society.

Please help to keep LSN’s sports teams and other peer programs critical to a survivor’s recovery growing strong with your support.

Thank you on behalf of the landmine survivors who count on LSN’s help.

Photo captions: Home page photo: Tolosa Gonfa, won three gold medals in each of the 100, 200 and 400 meter races for below knee amputees; Above photo: Samuel Adebe, shown here crossing the finish line, won three gold medals in the 100, 200 and 400 meter races for above knee amputees.
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