In a world where close to 1 billion people are still hungry, it is difficult to make an immediate positive change. However, hope has to be vested on the active collaboration amongst the UN system, non-governmental organizations, private sector, national governments and good-willed citizens. Not just long term and large scale cross-border projects, but small initiatives, such as the ‘Run Against Hunger’, driven by individuals help raise awareness, hope and (temporary) joy.
This year’s run attracted over 400 participants from all walks of life. They participated in the various categories, ranging from a 500 meter children’s run to an elderly ‘walk’. However, there was one thing that stood out from all participants, and that was their fierce competitiveness and fitness - a lethal combination for two Europeans trying to keep pace! Not forgetting the heat and pothole-filled dirt tracks we had to cope with. It is therefore no surprise, in a field that boosted top athletes from the military that I definitely finished in the bottom 5. However, in the spirit of running, it was not about competing but completing!
It was interesting to experience that people do not run together for fun, community feel, promoting good health or a good cause. It is a rather more individualistic affair. It is all about winning - a real different mentality to runners in Europe. This is something I addressed in my speech at the closing ceremony, and through our gesture of donating food in the form of a raffle we tried to emphasize the importance of the collective and enjoyment for all in runs like these.
After a customary delay, the gunshot signaled the start of the race, and it was incredible the speed at which everyone started. The race took us over the country’s busiest highway along the coast, meaning there were more cars than runners blocking my way and considering our position in the field, all the water was already consumed and non-existent at the supposed ‘water points’. After a quick, Ferrari like pit-stop at the petrol station for some much needed liquid, we soon turned off the main road onto the much anticipated African dirt tracks. The support was terrific! Whole villages came out to support the runners, whilst some children found amusement by seeing a ‘tubaab’ (white man) struggling in the heat. However, whether it was the laughter, the cheering, or at one stage passing a transporting mule, the atmosphere was truly unique to Africa and really helped spur me on!
The finish was incredible too! We all arrived at Brufut Lower Basic School where almost 1,000 people from the local community gathered to welcome the runners and join the post-run festivities. These included cultural shows, music and dancing, speeches, prize giving and the much anticipated raffle. Besides participating, we also delved into the logistical and operational aspects of the run and were an important part of the closing ceremony. I held a speech on the global fight against hunger, Erik was in charge of the raffle and we both handed over certificates to the winners. We were amazed, but also blessed by the media coverage who helped promote the run and our, albeit small, fight against hunger. To our surprise we have been referred to in several newspapers, participated in two live sports talk shows on the radio and been on the national news several times. It has remarkably resulted in people on the street recognizing us and our efforts!
With help from you, our donors, we managed to offer 32 prizes:
All in all the ‘Run Against Hunger’ was an astonishing success! In terms of donations and raffle prizes it was way above our expectations, the marathon organization had the largest field of participants ever and the Brufut community witnessed the largest food raffle since the runs inception 16 years ago. It was a pleasure to be part of such a wonderful initiative and it is something I will always look back at with extreme joy and pride. However, it could not have been done without you, the donors.
I hereby would like to thank you for financial donations and moral support that kept us motivated and driven to pursue such an initiative. You have contributed to the success of the ‘Run Against Hunger’, responsible for raising awareness and made a real change to the Brufut community.