Wednesday, December 13, 2017
More than 15 runners, and several supporters, braved wintery conditions at a running track in the southwestern Dutch city Maastricht on Saturday December 9 2017. The goal was to raise funds and awareness for Radio Dabanga, the only radio station that provides independent and reliable news in Sudan.

The inspiring event – in which runners complete sponsored laps and public donors are encouraged to contribute via GoFundMe – was even more successful than anyone hoped for, and plans are already afoot to repeat the run-a-thon in the fall of 2018.

The Dabanga run-a-thon is the brainchild of coordinator/lecturer Chris Sparks of the School of Business and Economics (SBE), and students Tobias Sparwasser-Soroka and Pierre Schmit from University College Maastricht (UCM). They were joined by two volunteers Kibibi and Anika from the High School of the United World College (UWC) in Maastricht.

Impressive scores

The runners set-off to complete sponsored laps. One participant achieved an impressive score of 25 laps (10 kilometres!) and raised € 1,000. Several others managed to run up to 20 circuits of the track. Christ Sparks also highlights one participant who is unable to run, but walked. “Tremendous effort!”

An amount of €3,000 has been collected thus far, but referring to outstanding pledges, Chris says “we don’t have an exact number on that yet because there are still donations coming in”. Chris also hopes to drum-up support from donors in the USA, so watch this space.

Learning curve

“On the European GoFundMe site, we had an anonymous donation of almost €2,000, which is the best surprise you can have,” says Tobias Sparwasser-Soroka who was one of the main organisers. “While this wasn’t the first event I have organised, it’s the first one directly linked to a good cause. That’s something I’ve never fully experienced before and it’s motivated me to do the Dabanga run-a-thon again and to look how I can further get involved.”

Darfuri student

Tobias says “one of the highlights for me was meeting Abdul, a UWC student who hails from Darfur. He mentioned to us that his grandparents in Sudan rely on Radio Dabanga for news every day. It brought home how far the reach is of Radio Dabanga and how much of an impact it can have.”

Team effort

“It was great to be part of the Dabanga run-a-thon, even if I did not actually run,” says Suzanne Bakker, Team Leader Sudans at Free Press Unlimited. “I really went to Maastricht to show the organisers and the runners how much we at Dabanga appreciate their efforts and commitment; their support to our cause and our team.

Fundraising for Radio Dabanga

In addition to raising funds by running, people can still donate via two GoFundMe campaigns: one focused on European public and one for the US public. Both are still open, so feel free to make a donation. The money will be used to produce a professional video to support further campaigning and fundraising for Radio Dabanga.

Raising awareness

Radio Dabanga reaches vast audiences in Sudan, internationally and in the Netherlands where it is produced, but few people are aware of the importance of freedom of the press in conflict areas in Sudan. Tobias and Pierre are eager and motivated to take on the challenge to develop strategies and test them.

Reliable news for Sudan

Radio Dabanga is the only radio station that provides independent and reliable news in Sudan. They operate from exile. Not by choice, but out of necessity. The government of Sudan persecutes, intimidates and muzzles independent journalism. That is why Dabanga operates from Amsterdam, supported by Free Press Unlimited. Its ratings are impressive: over 2.3 million people through shortwave radio and about 1 million through satellite television on a daily basis. Social media figures: Facebook reaching 1.730.000 and Twitter 257.000 impressions. WhatsApp connects 25,000 directly and 133,000 indirectly.

In total there were more than fifteen runners who started at a different time. All of them put in a lot of effort and energy into the event. One participant had an impressive score of 25 laps (10 kilometers!) and raised EUR 1,000 and several others managed to run up to 20 laps. There was one girl who couldn't run, instead she decided to walk and pulled of a total of 20 laps. We were also pleasently surprised by the participation of a Darfuri man who knows Dabanga and wanted to contributing to the fundraising. 

Read the full article here.