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Desert Run 4 Nelson Mandela Children's Hospital

Desert Run 4 Nelson Mandela Children's Hospital

Personal message

My name is David Barnard, and I'm a desert runner and social activist.

I have been participating in the crazy sport of desert running since 2010. There is something unique to running self-supported and in extreme conditions in remote corners of the world – Sahara, Gobi, Atacama and Antarctica – covering distances of a marathon or more on four or five consecutive days. It is a tough and often painful experience, but making it to the finishing line is a fantastic feeling and deeply satisfying.

However, my participation in these races has always been about more than just overcoming the physical and mental challenges associated with these events.  I have worked with NGOs and other entities involved with development and social justice efforts in Africa for the past 25 years. My desert running adventures therefore provide me with an opportunity to support organisations of interest to me and make a difference.

Combining my passion for extreme desert running with philanthropy and raising awareness for social causes, I have recently (20-26 October 2018) completed the 250km Kalahari Augrabies Extreme Marathon (KAEM) to raise funds for the Nelson Mandela Children’s Hospital (NMCH). The race was held in the Kalahari Desert in the proximity of the Augrabies Falls on the Orange River.

Inspired by Madiba’s love for children, and built in honour of his legacy, the NMCH is a world-class 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.

The NMCH has already 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. It is committed to rendering exceptional service to all children of Southern Africa and no child, regardless of socio-economic circumstances, who is appropriately referred to the NMCH is turned away.

As a public benefit organisation, NMCH only receives operational funding from the government to treat public patients and independently fundraises to support its capital expenses. As a result, it requires ongoing public support to expand and sustain its services.

As part of my participation in the KAEM, and in support of Madiba’s legacy, I aim to raise R250 000 (US$17 857) for NMCH to enable more children to benefit from its services.

The money raised will be used in support of the following items and services:

  • 5 x Heart surgeries (R20 000 per patient) (R100 000)
  • 10 x Noise-cancelling earphones (R2 000 per unit) (R20 000)
  • 20 x Medicine for an ICU patient (R5 000 per day) (R100 000)
  • 100 x Welcome packs (R150 each) (R15 000)
  • 300 x Toys for children in physiotherapy (R50 each) (R15 000)

Total: R250 000

It only requires 2 500 people to donate a minimum of R100 each to reach this target, and I’m challenging all South Africans to support this important campaign and the work of NMCH.

Running 250 kilometres through the Kalahari Desert in extreme heat and sand was a tough challenge, but I’m inspired by this cause and the belief that together we can achieve this target. Nothing will give me greater pleasure than honouring Madiba’s legacy and centennial birthday in this manner.

My fundraising campaign will run until 27 November 2018, to coincide with Giving Tuesday, an annual global initiative aimed at encouraging social giving. 

Media coverage:

Extreme athlete ran 250 km to raise funds for Nelson Mandela Children’s Hospital

Jozi man braves 250km Kalahari run for Nelson Mandela Children’s Hospital

Civil Society Champion to Race through Kalahari Desert for NMCH

Fairland’s David Barnard becomes the first African to run ultramarathons on every continent

Follow my campaign on social media - #DesertRun4NMCH:

Twitter / Facebook / Blog 


  • Nov 29, 2018 - R 200.00
  • "Go well on your journey!" - B Nell

  • Nov 15, 2018 - USD $ 69.49
  • "Congrats David for this fabulous challenge" - OUMY NDIAYE

  • Nov 09, 2018 - USD $ 49.53
  • "Always so inspired by you and your incredible challenges...and for such a good cause!" - Heather Haines

  • Nov 08, 2018 - R 200.00
  • "Thank you for the opportunity to participate" - Anonymous

  • Nov 06, 2018 - R 212.57
  • "To support our David, our member of the board of directors." - Africa Universities Fund,Inc, USA

  • Nov 06, 2018 - R 1 000.00

  • Nov 02, 2018 - R 100.00
  • "Thanks for your inspiration" - Marc

  • Nov 01, 2018 - R 100.00
  • "All success!" - Sean

  • Nov 01, 2018 - R 1 000.00
  • "Well done great effort for a very good cause" - Steve Curtis

  • Nov 01, 2018 - R 200.00
  • "You are a hero!" - Andrea Cilliers

  • Nov 01, 2018 - R 300.00
  • "Good luck in your endeavour" - Brenda

  • Oct 28, 2018 - R 500.00
  • "Keep on running, David!" - Arthur Goldstuck

  • Oct 24, 2018 - R 200.00
  • "Keep up the good work David!! good luck with the marathon" - Malindrish

  • Oct 22, 2018 - R 1 000.00
  • "Good Luck and we will be following your progress." - Ray Funnell

  • Oct 19, 2018 - R 200.00
  • "Good luck with Kalahari Augrabies Extreme Marathon!" - Roux Family

  • Oct 18, 2018 - R 100.00
  • "David, Dankie vir die fantastiese werk wat jy doen vir behoeftiges" - Roelof

  • Oct 17, 2018 - R 200.00
  • "Thank you David for this selfless work, every bit counts!!! " - Vuyokazi Kakaza

  • Oct 16, 2018 - USD $ 27.87
  • "Best of luck with this, David!" - kiwanja

  • Oct 16, 2018 - R 200.00
  • "Wonderlik dat jy jou twee passies kan kombineer op so 'n positiewe manier David, GENIET!!" - Philip

  • Oct 15, 2018 - R 1 000.00
  • "Best wishes from all of us at Aspiration!" - The Aspiration Team

  • Oct 14, 2018 - USD $ 34.44
  • "Glad you’re doing this David! " - RR Tanzania

  • Oct 11, 2018 - R 500.00
  • "Go David GO GO GO!!!" - Francois Joubert

Donate to this charity


Donations to date

R 9 812.38

Fundraising target

R 250 000.00

Nelson Mandela Children's Hospital Trust

Nelson Mandela Children's Hospital Trust Logo

Initiated by Nelson Mandela Children's Fund, as part of its vision, the Nelson Mandela Children's Hospital Trust raised funds for and built a hospital which offers world-class tertiary and quaternary paediatric healthcare services provided by a team of highly experienced medical professionals within a sophisticated technological environment. The Nelson Mandela Children's Hospital (NMCH) is a dedicated facility that services children of Southern Africa, regardless of their ability to pay. It was born out of Madiba's wish that all children have access to the health care they need and deserve, and was built with the help of donors around the world. NMCH opened in June 2017, and continues to help children who need specialised services such as Radiology, Dialysis, Neurosurgery, Cardiology and General Surgery - with your help we can continue to save lives.