22. Sep 2016

Zimbabwean Walk exceeds all expectations

Anna Knauer Elley
David Leboho gathered thousands at his first Walk in 2015 – and offers insights into how others can do the same.
David Leboho (right) and colleagues on World Diabetes Day 2015 in Gweru, Zimbabwe.
No one expected first-time Walk organiser the Midlands Diabetes Interest Group to gather more than 5,000 people at their very first Walk. How did they do it? David Leboho, Campaign Responsible for Midlands Diabetes Interest Group, explains.
As project partner to WDF15-948, a diabetes prevention and access project in Zimbabwe, David and his team decided to organise a Global Diabetes Walk in 2015. They joined forces with Ministry of Health, City Council Health Department, and Athletics Association of Zimbabwe. 
With this strong team in place, they managed to organise not only two Walks, but also a broad range of entertainment and activities. They did this by identifying activities usually provided free in the community. 
“These activities were then incorporated into the programme of events intertwined with short diabetes lessons,” David Leboho says, adding that this practical, low-cost approach attracted more people to the Walk. 
According to David, a successful Walk is determined long before the event takes place. 
“Proper planning should be done on time. We need to be clear about why we need to walk. We need to establish our target group, where to do the Walk, when and what enjoyable experiences we want to provide,” he says.  
Taking up the fight
The current diabetes situation in Zimbabwe, which is facing both drought and political unrest, is “hectic,” according to David, and little or no information on diabetes is available. 
“There is a need for awareness of the disease in many parts of the country. Knowledge about simple issues as the symptoms, causes, and prevention is not prevalent,” he says.
Having been diagnosed with diabetes himself, David says the urge to take up the fight against diabetes in his home country came naturally: “Instead of feeling low and defeated, I decided that I was going to be proactive and ensure that many people in my situation and those unaware of their circumstances should be made aware of their condition.” 
Following last year’s success, David and his team are expanding their Walk campaign to both urban and rural settings. This year, the Walk events will include music, poetry, and community theatre. “The point is to gather them (the participants) and create a platform for them to sit and receive information on diabetes,” David says.
David’s 3 tips for new Walk organisers
1. Prioritise planning, promotion, and publicity  
2. Engage and involve all relevant stakeholders
3. Select a good venue and time that is accessible to your target population