Why (Tindouf) Algeria?
Located deep in the desert outside Tindouf, Algeria, the Sahrawi refugee camps are home to over 150,000 refugees of a ‘forgotten conflict’: an older generation who lived through the war against Morocco for this land until 1991, and a younger generation born in limbo since the ceasefire agreement. More than half of the indigenous Saharawis were displaced to this remote desert corner when war broke out in Western Sahara following the forceful Moroccan annexation of their homeland in 1975.
A UN-negotiated ceasefire in 1991 was meant to lead to a self-determination referendum for the Saharawis, but with endless obstacles, postponements and no international backing, the Saharawis are still waiting for that vote to take place 27 years on. Today 38% of the refugee population are under 17. Close to 70,000 young Sahrawis have been growing up in exile without ever having seen or lived in their homeland, and they face a stateless future. Very little media has shed visibility on their plight; yet their resilience persists.
Sandblast Arts is an inspiring UK-based organization that amplifies both the voices and visions of the indigenous Saharawi people of Western Sahara. Through a series of arts and skills developments programs, Sandblast seeks to uphold the Saharawi cultural heritage and raise awareness of their ongoing struggle. They too believe in the powerful impact of running and, through their partnership with the Sahara Marathon, showing solidarity with the marginalized Saharawi population. Join me on my journey to support the Sahrawi people in Tindouf by elevating their cause in our global, collective consciousness.
This is a crucial fundraising year for Sandblast as they hope to expand Stave House in the Sahara: their early learning music and English language program for primary school students in the camps. So far, more than 50 children have participated in the program and 3 local Saharawi teachers have been trained in Stave House. Sandblast is also training local Saharawi teachers to run the project autonomously.