EUR staff member Ben Bode takes part in the Muskathlon during May 2014 – his first marathon – in Uganda in order to raise considerable funds for helping the poor.

Next to his work as a statistics lecturer at the Rotterdam School of Management and member of University Council, Ben Bode takes pride in his efforts to fight poverty. With help of his friends and family, and his wide-spanning network at EUR, Bode strives to raise 10.000 euro of sponsorship funds. He opts to participate in the Muskathlon as part of a group of 100 participants, and to raise together a total of one million euro for inhabitants of the deprived district Kapchorwa in the East of Uganda. “We cannot change the world just by ourselves, but every single person can change the story of a child.”

Why are you doing this?

“After reading the book ‘The Hole in our Gospel’ I got convinced that it is possible to beat extreme poverty in this world. Of course you cannot change the entire world just by yourself, however everyone can change the life of one child. I came across an illustrative example for this in the same book, about tens of thousands of starfish being washed ashore. Whereas one man mourns because of all the dying starfish, another man picks them up one after the other – throwing them back into the sea. Once this man is being asked: “What are you doing?”, he responds by saying: “I am saving the starfish.” “Did you take notice that there are tens of thousands of starfish? Your efforts are a waste anyway.” The man does not respond, but bends down instead, picking up another starfish and throwing this one back in the water. He then smiles, looks the first man straight into the eye, and says: “It does make a difference for that one starfish.’”

What are the concrete things you want to change in Uganda?

“We raise money for Compassion, an international child sponsor organization that gives over 1,4 million children in 26 developing countries a chance to live without poverty. From that amount of money, large groups of children will be able to attend school for example, houses will be built, and pregnant women will benefit from healthcare. The way children are being raised in Uganda is sometimes very primitive, however we hope to improve this situation by means of education.”

Raising funds is good, but why by means of a marathon in Uganda?

“It is of course appreciated by the villagers if you give them money, but especially if you show your concern for these people by giving them personal attention. Next to that, it is also nice for ourselves to see what we did it all for. You are confronted with poverty in an intense manner, which makes you more aware of the contrast between rich and poor than instead of in the case of only donating money. You see with your own eyes the deprived circumstances that people live in, which changes your own life.”

Is it responsible to run a marathon in Uganda?

“I have received no signs that it will be risky for us thus far, and I have the fullest trust in the organization that organizes the marathon. Olympic champion Stephen Kiprotich, who is from the region, takes part in this as well.

I already ran three half marathons thus far, but of course this time it will be a lot tougher. That is why I will train three to four times per week for the coming months, in order to be ready for the marathon by May. I do not worry too much about the African climate, as I consider it an exciting physical challenge to run the marathon there, actually.”

Do you want to support Ben Bode in his endeavor to fight poverty? Go to this website. MvS/LJa