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Tuesday, 16 October 2018 11:33

Civil Society Champion to Race through Kalahari Desert for NMCH

Written by 
David Barnard visiting the Nelson Mandela Children's Hospital

(Johannesburg) Extreme athlete and social activist, David Barnard, is set to run 250 kilometres in the Kalahari Augrabies Extreme Marathon (KAEM) from 20 to 26 October 2018 in support of the Nelson Mandela Children’s Hospital (NMCH). Stretched over seven days, the desert race is a test of endurance and takes place in the proximity of the Augrabies Falls on the Orange River.

Barnard is the first African to have completed multi-stage desert races on all seven continents, and he boasts an extensive background in civil society and worked on development programmes across Africa.

Through the Desert 2 Desert, a running platform championing social causes and campaigns through extreme desert races, Barnard will be raising funds for the hospital in honour of the centenary year of Madiba’s birth.

Says Barnard: “In our society there’s so much that can be done to address very common and complex issues. For many South Africans sport is an opportunity to participate but increasingly also an opportunity to give back and a vehicle to raise awareness.”

Initiated by the Nelson Mandela Children’s Fund, NMCH is a legacy project of former president Nelson Mandela and a tertiary specialist referral paediatric hospital based in Parktown, Johannesburg. The 200-bed facility is the second dedicated paediatric hospital in Southern Africa and admitted its first patients in June 2017.

Since opening, NMCH has treated over 1 000 children in need of surgical and life-saving interventions as a result of complex illnesses and continues to phase in operations offering critical services including: Neonatal and Paediatric Intensive Care Units (the largest in the country), Cardiology, Cardiothoracic Surgery, Dialysis, Neurosurgery, General Paediatric Surgery, Orthopaedic Surgery, supported by Anaesthesiology, Pharmacy, as well as Radiology.

CEO of NMCH, Dr Mandisa Maholwana, says the hospital is honoured by Barnard’s contribution. “We are extremely grateful for the support we receive from individuals like David and the global community who have committed themselves to the realisation of our vision to give children a chance to live and thrive.”

As a public benefit organisation, NMCH has a unique funding model as it only receives operational funding from the government to treat public patients and independently fundraises to support its capital expenses. “No child who is appropriately referred to this facility is turned away, regardless of socio-economic standing. This is a welcomed contribution that will go a long way in improving access to specialised healthcare for desperately ill-children in the region,” added Maholwana.

Barnard, who returned from Iceland in September after completing yet another 250-kilometre race, aims to raise R250 000 through the public fundraiser. The target is aimed at encouraging at least 2 500 individuals or corporates to donate a minimum of R100 each.

“The only way we can solve the complex issues we face is through many people making small contributions,” says Barnard. “You don’t need a lot of money to make a difference. I challenge every South African to make a contribution. This is an opportunity to do something in honour of Madiba’s legacy.”

The public can support Barnard through BackaBuddy by donating as little as R100.

Barnard will leave Johannesburg on 17 October and will return on 28 October. The fundraising campaign will close on Giving Tuesday on 27 November, an international movement aimed at encouraging philanthropy.

Visit to donate and for more details.


Issued by the Nelson Mandela Children’s Hospital

For media enquiries, please contact: Ayabulela Poro
Tel: 010 133 0749

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To learn more about David Barnard visit:

David Barnard is a South African development activist who participates in extreme desert races in support of social causes and campaigns dedicated to development issues in Africa and making a difference in society.

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