Promoting Peace and Inclusion through Judo: JRS Ethiopia’s Inspiring Project

30 January 2024|Paula Casado Aguirregabiria

JRS Ethiopia has been carrying out  a transformative project in Addis Ababa focused on Judo and youths. This unique endeavor aims to foster peace, inclusion, and personal development among the participating youths.

With children and youths from both the refugee and the local community, we try to promote values of peace, reconciliation, gender equality, inclusion, discipline and a healthy lifestyle.


We interviewed some beneficiaries to gain insight into their experiences.


Samrawit Getahuin (13, Ethiopian): Aspiring Female Judoka

Samrawit enthusiastically began her Judo journey in February 2023. Expressing her love for the competition and camaraderie, she appreciates the respectful environment among her colleagues.

Recognized by the instructor as one of the best team members, Samrawit aspires to become the best female Judoka in Ethiopia!

Introduced to the training through a friend at school, she overcame initial shyness to now enjoy meaningful friendships with her peers.

In the future, Samrawit dreams of participating in international Judo competitions, contributing to the sport’s development in Ethiopia. Her family and friends wholeheartedly support her pursuit.

It is good to do it together with refugee children; we make friends, we learn from each other
Samrawit Getahuin (13, Ethiopian)

Michaie Goytcom (15, Eritrean): Defying Stereotypes through Judo

Having arrived in Ethiopia in 2019, Michaie appreciates the freedom he enjoys compared to life in Eritrea. Despite a brief pause, he has dedicated two years to Judo, finding joy in learning the sport’s techniques.

Winning a gold medal in an Addis Ababa competition, Michaie felt a sense of pride!

Contrary to his family’s initial concerns about violence, Michaie emphasizes the discipline, respect, and mental strength cultivated through Judo.

For Michaie, Judo is not just a sport but a pathway to personal development. He expresses a keen interest in finishing school and pursuing higher education in Social Work to contribute meaningfully to society, the same way JRS does with him and his family.

Even Mussie (11, Eritrean): Building Confidence through Judo

In Ethiopia since 2018, Even Mussie has been practicing Judo for four years. As the first student to enroll in the program in 2019, he acknowledges the positive impact of martial arts on discipline, self-protection, and mental strength. Starting with his older sister, Even Mussie continued alone when she pursued a different interest in fashion. Over the years, he has witnessed significant improvement, leading to increased confidence and motivation.

Apart from Judo, Even Mussie is grateful for the Art and Music classes at CPC, further enriching his overall experience. With aspirations to become an artist (poet) and pursue Judo professionally, Even Mussie expresses gratitude to JRS for the opportunities provided.


Tesfaye Ejersa (29, Ethiopian): instructing Judo to the youths

Tesfaye has been actively involved in Judo training at the Youth Centre since 2019, obtaining a black belt in the same year and subsequently volunteering for JRS as an instructor for the youths.

The program he leads gathers around 40 students, with a focus on fostering sportsmanship and togetherness. The diverse group, consisting of 17 female and 23 male students, includes 17 refugees.

This year, the students participated in the Addis Ababa Judo competition, securing an impressive 3 golden medals, 6 silver, and 6 bronze. Tesfaye highlights the joy the children experience when attending competitions, emphasizing the importance of inclusivity by bringing together both refugee and host community children.

Judo, according to Tesfaye, instills values of discipline, respect, self-control, mental strength, and self-defense. Beyond physical benefits, it opens doors to future opportunities, given its status as an Olympic sport. Tesfaye, one of the two Ethiopians with an international Judo license, recognizes the challenges they face in securing funding for materials and instructors’ compensation.

Despite challenges, Tesfaye recounts a profoundly impactful experience during their first competition in Addis. Witnessing the children’s inspiration and motivation was truly remarkable. As they strive to popularize Judo in Ethiopia, JRS and Tesfaye hope to overcome hurdles and continue providing a positive and transformative experience for these young athletes.


2024 Judo competitions

JRS’s judo club recently participated in the yearly competition organized by the Addis Ababa Judo Association. The competition served as a platform for both host and refugee children to showcase their talents and skills in judo.
  • The JRS judo club had a total of 30 participants in the competition.
  • Among these participants, 9 were female members of the club.
  • The club achieved remarkable success in the competition, securing a total of:
    • 5 gold medals
    • 5 silver medals
    • 8 bronze medals
    • 2 winner cups
    • Out of the 9 female participants from JRS’s club, 8 emerged victorious in their respective categories

This outstanding performance by the female members of the club led JRS to secure the winner cup in the women’s field, showcasing their dedication and skill in judo.

The participation of both host and refugee children in the competition highlights the inclusive nature of the group, providing an opportunity for children from diverse backgrounds to come together and engage in a common passion for judo. Such events contribute to fostering unity and camaraderie among participants, irrespective of their backgrounds or circumstances.



JRS’s judo club’s participation in the annual competition organized by the Addis Ababa Judo Association exemplifies their commitment to promoting sportsmanship, inclusivity, and excellence among its members. The club’s impressive performance and achievements reflect their dedication to judo and serve as an inspiration to the community.