My Refugee Story: Wisam discovers new passion

Iraq War refugee finds motivation through Para sport thanks to Agitos Foundation

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Wisam has experienced plenty of loss as a refugee of the Iraq War, but in the third and final part of our My Refugee Story series, we see how he has gained a new passion for Para sport.

Wisam abandoned his home in Mosul, Iraq, after his brother who was killed by Islamic State (ISIS). The 25-year-old, who worked in photography before fleeing the country, first moved to Syria, then Turkey before arriving to Greece. On his perilous journey he lost two of his friends at sea, and even now does not know where the rest of his family is.

But through the “Paralympic Education Development in Refugee Populations,” a project supported by the Agitos Foundation’s Grant Support Programme (GSP), Wisam was able to try different Para sports and eventually developed a passion for wheelchair fencing. He has even rediscovered photography.

“Fencing is my best sport,” he said. “I just love it.”

“I take the power [from fencing],” Wisam said. “The power is not just from my body. But the power is here, inner, inside my heart.”

Wisam has a lower body impairment due to polio. He initially tried sitting volleyball, but then discovered wheelchair fencing, which he has been actively training in with coach Leonidas Koukos.

“We are very, very happy to see how the participation in the project is helping the refugees to improve their lives and achieve social inclusion,” said Gabriel Ojeda Nino, Agitos Foundation Development Manager.

The GSP project in Greece began in October 2016 and is funded through the Agitos Foundation’s Grant Support Programme. The Foundation, which is the development arm of the International Paralympic Committee, is also working in Cyprus and Serbia with the aim of bringing Para sport to refugees. The project is supported by the United Nations Refugee Agency in Greece (UNHCR).

More information on the project can be found on the Agitos Foundation website.