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Nouvelles: January 2006
The Spirit of UWP Represented at the 2006 Winter Olympics
Text: Synnøve Follestad E98, E99, E00
Philippe Razanakolona, bass player alumni of E 2000, has found an original way of furthering the spirit of UWP. At the Winter Olympics 2006 in Turin Italy his brother, Mathieu, will compete in two downhill skiing disciplines representing Madagascar and Philippe is basically taking care of everything that comes under the umbrella “organizing”, i.e. logistics, communications, marketing - you name it.
A skier from Madagascar? Isn’t that in Africa? Do they even have snow? Will it be like a second Jamaican bob sleigh team? What does this have to do with UWP?
First of all the difference is that Mathieu can ski. He has been skiing for 15 years. His father is from Madagascar, but his mother is from Quebec and that is where Philippe and Mathieu grew up. Having visited their other home country several times they became aware of the needs of the people in Madagascar. Poverty is widespread even though the country has an abundance of resources. As many other African countries, Madagascar was politically mismanaged for decades and the people are trying to recover.
This is where the legacy of UWP comes in. While UWP combined theatre and community service, the Raz brothers combines sports and development projects. The sponsorship money will go towards selected development projects in Madagascar which will be administered by the non-for-profit organization that Philippe has started called rAzAlpin.org. Malagasy youth will be the main beneficiaries and the projects will be in accordance with the UN Millennium Development Goals meaning that rAzAlpin.org will only fund sustainable projects. Five focus areas have been chosen that most of us living in the developed world take for granted; elementary education, health, access to clean water and youth and sports development in Madagascar.
Mathieu will most certainly attract media being the first skier from Madagascar to compete in the Winter Olympics ever. Needless to say the sponsors will get great exposure as the Olympics is the biggest sports event there is. The two brothers have already been all over newspapers in Canada and Madagascar. TransWorld Sports broadcasted a 7 minutes feature covering their story in the fall. TransWorld Sports was broadcasted in 130 countries around the world! For those of you who were at the last reunion in Tucson you might have passed by the rAzalpin.org stand.
For more details on the rAzAlpin.org project, view the international press coverage, pictures and promotional video on the website: www.rAzAlpin.org
Here is how we as alumni can help and get involved:
- Spread the word! Get informed. Go to their multilingual website and send your friends there as well: www.rAzAlpin.org
- Buy from 30 exclusive Ski Madagascar products such as t-shirts, boxers, cute baby clothes, sweaters on there website.
- Become a sponsor. Get your name exposed at the Olympics, reaching 2 billion people and know that your money and products went to a great cause. See Partners section on the website for more information.
- Arrange a fund raiser event at your house during the Olympics. Invite friends over to watch the skiing events and raise money for Malagasy youth. If it is something UWP alumni know all about it is fund raising! Cast E2000 suggested at the Reunion to sponsor a Malagasy student into the new Worldsmart program.