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Swim for Hope 2016 ~ Introducing a Very Special Participant

20-year-old Arafat Gatabazi is an avid sportsman, with an intriguing story…

Arafat fled from his homeland, The Congo, in October 2012, leaving behind his parents and two of his siblings, whom he suspects may have subsequently been murdered by the M23 troops.

Arriving in Cape Town a month later, Arafat and his two cousins, who fled with him, were eventually relocated to The Homestead, a registered non-profit organisation helping street children reconstruct their shattered lives.

In January 2013 Arafat was placed in Grade 11 at the City Mission School.

On Saturday 28 June 2014, Arafat – having only learned to swim a few months earlier through a swimming/upliftment program offered by the Homestead – completed the 7.5km swim from Robben Island to Bloubergstrand, wearing only a standard swimsuit, swimming cap and goggles, in accordance with FINA open water swimming rules.

Arafat, who had made his first attempt at this iconic open water swim two months earlier and was pulled out of the water with hypothermia just over 1km out from Blouberg in that attempt, completed the July crossing in a time of 3h33 – in water temperatures ranging between 14 and 16 degrees Celsius.

Arafat’s crossing was not only a feat of extreme cold-water long-distance swimming but the culmination of a journey of hope and a fitting symbol of personal triumph over adversity for a young man who was forced to leave the life he knew by fleeing for his life from the Congo two years earlier.

Arafat successfully completed matric in 2014, and in 2015 he completing a bridging course in IT, with the hope of studying IT at university, level in the future.

He is currently doing an internship while hoping for a space to become available at CPUT.

Please join us in welcoming this extraordinary young man to the Swim for Hope 2016 Team!

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