from running to education

Culture | Written By, NOW! BALI |

This month’s interview is with Scott Thomson, who decided to raise money by running from Bali to Jakarta, the equivalent of running 30 back-to-back marathons. In doing so he raised $400,000 dollars which he gave to two charities. One of these decided to name a new learning centre in Bali after him: Rumah Belajar Scott Thomson. A just reward for an astonishing feat – and a really modest guy. Alistair Speirs interviewed him for NOW! Bali

 

This month’s interview is with Scott Thomson, who decided to raise money by running from Bali to Jakarta, the equivalent of running 30 back-to-back marathons. In doing so he raised $400,000 dollars which he gave to two charities. One of these decided to name a new learning centre in Bali after him: Rumah Belajar Scott Thomson. A just reward for an astonishing feat – and a really modest guy. Alistair Speirs interviewed him for NOW! Bali

WHAT INSPIRED YOU TO UNDERTAKE THE MAMMOTH RUN FROM BALI TO JAKARTA?

Not sure, still scratch my head when asked that question. I would say it comes from the people that work every day in organisations such as YCAB and MCK, they are the folks that make a real difference. Sure on some level I had to be excited about the run, but my goal was less about running and more about raising awareness.

HOW DID YOU GO ABOUT GETTING SPONSORS?

Well I received some great publicity from the likes of the Jakarta Globe and NOW Jakarta. Getting exposure early on made it easier to sell my challenge to potential sponsors. We targeted corporate sponsorship and managed to gather just over 50 company logos on my running shirt. Family and friends of course were extremely supportive as was YCAB that tapped their network to make a significant contribution towards the $400,000 raised.

WE’RE YOU HAPPY WITH THE RESPONSE YOU GOT?

Yes, unbelievable. Of course I hoped 30 back-to-back marathons across the equator might be something worth sponsoring, however I didn’t expect the response we got. Now, I rarely give a second thought to the run, but what we managed collectively on the fund raising, well that will linger on for quite some time.

HOW DID YOU SELECT THE CHARITIES AND ORGANIZATIONS YOU WANTED TO HELP?

Very easily, an old friend, Mary Binks, founded Marys Cancer Kiddies and it meant a lot to be able to help Julie Van Laarhoven and the current MCK team continue their fantastic work. As for Yayasan Cinta Anak Bangsa, this organisation has grown and evolved into one of the most respected non-profit organisations in Indonesia and the leading light on social entrepreneurship in the region is the founder Veronica Colondam. It has been an honour to work with Vera and her amazing team at YCAB, they are the true stars. Guys like me merely drop in and out while they’re at it day in day out.

WERE ANY OF THE SPONSORS THERE SPECIFICALLY BECAUSE OF THE CHARITIES YOU HAD SELECTED?

Yes, a few were long term sponsors of YCAB and MCK, however a large percentage of the corporate sponsors knew little about the great work these organisations do when initially approached. That is a massive positive.

TELL US HOW THE RUMAH BELAJAR SCOTT THOMSON CAME ABOUT?

Good question, all I can say is it had nothing to do with me, best you ask Vera. I hoped to get regular updates on how the funds were being put to use so I could then flick information on to my sponsors. I never expected something as tangible as this. Suppose the beauty is I now get to go back to the sponsors and say, hey look at the difference we made here and do you think we can do it again in the future.

WHERE IS IT, WHAT IS IT, WHO RUNS IT, WHO BENEFITS FROM IT?

From the funds raised YCAB will open four Rumah Belajar centres. The first one is in Bali which was opened last month, one in Jakarta and another two along my route. These learning centres will be co-managed by YCAB and a locally based yayasan partner. The one in Bali is in a small village called Songan, which is in North Bali near Lake Batur. This learning centre was built to provide local kids with language and computer skills, and the four month YCAB programme will see them graduate with certification from Binus University. I like to think this will be a small stepping stone to new opportunities for these kids. I was lucky enough to meet the first intake with many more on the waiting list. Securing entry to the learning centre is by means of a test, which amongst other things involves a home visit and verification of electricity bills. You get a real sense of the need when entry is gained if three consecutive months of bills for the family home are below Rp.130,000 per month.

ARE THERE ANY FUTURE PLANS FOR THIS MARVELLOUS ORGANISATION?

Yes, but perhaps nothing quite as large as the Bali to Jakarta run, at least not next year. But hopefully the family and work moons will realign and we will manage to train and prepare for something come 2014.

WHAT CAN OUR READERS DO TO HELP?

I don’t really need any help. However there are plenty of kids out there that could do with a helping hand, and you don’t have to run from Bali to Jakarta to help out, in fact you don’t have to run at all, there are loads of ways to interact with your community and at a level that suits you. However if my run encourages others to expand upon it or run further, faster and raise more money, then that would make me really happy.

AND WHAT ABOUT YOUR PLANS? ANY MORE RUNS?

Yes, hopefully if fit and well I’ll attempt something that you might find worth sponsoring, will keep you guessing with regards details. To tell you the truth, I don’t really know yet myself but got a few ideas.

May I just close off with a wee thank you to NOW Jakarta. I really cannot thank you guys enough. By pushing my fund raiser you also contributed to making it more successful than I ever thought possible. Thank you so much.

http://www.runningbalitojakarta.com

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NOW! BALI

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