For those who don’t know “Sahraouiya” is women’s orienteering race, for the 4th time takes place in Dakhla, Morocco. The race consists of 5 stages that include orienteering (17km.), kayaking (6 km.), running & cycling (66 km.). This year from 3rd to 10th of February, 70 women from different countries competed in the race. All women belong to different non-governmental organisations that aim to raise the money for their associations.
Sahraouiya is not only promoting Dakhla as a sports destination but also through sports and solidarity activities helps to empower women. Sahraouiya emphasises the importance of supporting programmes that encourage women and girls in sports.
What is more, there was a specific group of women who surprised and delighted in Dakhla: Sahraoui women. Salka Bouchama (44) from Guelmin, is a Sahraoui women (living in the Sahara Desert). She has 6 children, weights 120 kg., she has never done any sport in her life and she completed the Sahraouiya race. In this interview she talks about her experience.
TR: Why you decided to participate in the race?
SB: I have never done any sport in my life so I just wanted to know what I can do in sports. So I took my 17-years-old daughter Wafa with me to make a team. She helped and supported me in the toughest moments during the race, so I am very glad I had her by my side all the time.
TR: What do you think about other women competing in this race?
SB: The first impression was shocking. They were so fit, prepared and were training before the race. Sahraoui women are not doing a lot of sports so for me the most important thing was to complete the race and I did it!
TR: What did you learn from Sahraouiya event?
SB: We were the first people from Guelmin participating in this event. I wanted to be an example for other women from my region. To show that if we want to do something WE CAN DO IT!
I am a member of “Femme Wadnoun” association, it supports women that have problems with divorces, handicaps or need any kid of help. So, I participated in Sahraouiya to support my association and to show that we can do what we want in our lives, EVERYTHING IS POSSIBLE. Actually, this was the first thing I learned at the event, as well as friendship and solidarity from other women coming from Morocco, Africa and other countries.
TR: What was the most difficult moment during the race?
SB: I think the night run was the hardest part of the race. I lost a balance and fell from the dune. But this didn’t stop me from finishing the night race.
TR: What was the most impressive moment?
SB: I don’t know how to swim and I just did kayaking 2 times in my life. Surprisingly, during the kayaking race, together with my daughter we arrived 5th.
TR: How you feel after the race and what will you take home?
SB: I am a winner for myself because I finished the race. All the motivation from other participants helped me not to give up and complete the race.
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