My #NGOs4Africa Campaign – Week Five Reflections

This blog covers the period from 6-12 August 2018.

Only two weeks to go before the start of my next desert race, the 250km Fire and Ice Ultra in Iceland.

It is almost spring in Johannesburg, but it is still fairly chilly in the mornings and evenings – a friendly reminder of the weather which I will encounter in Northern Iceland, just a few degrees south of the Arctic Circle. I’ve been watching the weather forecasts of the area for the past few weeks, and the average temperature seems to be in the 6-12 °C range, with lots of rain. I’m both excited and slightly nervous about the challenge which awaits me, and with most of my training and preparations completed, I’m counting down the days to Monday, 27 August…

My #NGOs4Africa Campaign is also nearing its end, but there is still many African NGOs and related issues to cover in the final two weeks. Given all the NGO profiles and articles that I edit and read every day, the contributions of this sector in South Africa and elsewhere on the African continent are immense. Despite various shortcomings and external challenges impacting their work, one can’t but admire their contributions, and they are definitely not receiving enough public recognition for their efforts.

I profiled nine NGOs during the past week – Reach for a Dream Foundation, Endangered Wildlife Trust, The Sunflower Fund, CAF Southern Africa, Partners for Possibility (PfP), Nal’ibali, Gender Links (to coincide with Women’s Day in South Africa on 8 August), MAD Leadership Foundation, and the Afrika Youth Movement (AYM) (to coincide with International Youth Day on 12 August).

These organisations are involved in a diverse range of issues, and all of them are leaders in their respective fields. Through my desert running adventures I have supported two of them in the past, namely the Endangered Wildlife Trust and The Sunflower Fund, linked to my participation in the 2011 Sahara Race in Egypt, and 2015 Atacama Crossing in Chile, respectively.

I published two more articles as part of my efforts to provide context and understanding of the issues impacting the work of African NGOs. The first, by Nicolette Naylor and Rutendo Chandiwana of the Ford Foundation, focussed on “How should donors be engaging with the new normal of a shrinking civic space?”, and the second, by Judith Mtsewu of CAF Southern Africa, focussed on “Reflections on the state of civil society in South Africa”.

I also introduced the fourth Sport 4 Good profile, with the focus on Dean Wight, a well-known road runner from KwaZulu-Natal with 27 Comrades medals behind his name. Beyond his own running achievements, Dean is using his passion for running to help other runners, and raise money for good causes. Linked to the 2018 Comrades Marathon, he raised R327 000 for the Hillcrest Aids Centre Trust, making him the top fundraiser of this year’s race.

Finally, a blast from the past. The images below were taken during the 2015 Atacama Crossing in the Atacama Desert in Chile. This is probably one of the most spectacular desert running settings on the planet – sand dunes, salt planes, river crossings and a lunar-like landscape in some places, and if you look up, the snow covered Andes Mountains in the background. It was a very tough race but one that I will always remember. By completing the Atacama Crossing – following the Sahara Race in Egypt (2012), the Gobi March in China (2012) and Last Desert Race in Antarctica (2014) – I became only the seventh South African to join the Racing the Planet “4Deserts Club”.

With four continents done, the idea of completing a desert race on all seven continents gained momentum. Three years later, the Fire and Ice Ultra in Iceland – a desert race in Europe, represents the final challenge in achieving this milestone.


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