Sunday, 28 August 2011


Making the decision to Run the Sahara may be one of the best decisions of your life. Since 2009, Sandblast has facilitated the UK's delegation to the Run the Sahara in Algeria. It is quite unlike any other physical challenge. The Saharan desert provides the backdrop to a run (5k, 10k, half marathon or full marathon) and a week of cultural activities designed to bring you into the experience of the Saharawi refugees, compounded further by the experience of living in the refugee camp itself. Sandblast organises everything from the food you eat with your host family to meeting local figures in the community. Read below for a collection of testimonials from past runners: 

It was a privilege to have been involved, to have met like-minded people, to have experienced the hospitality of the Saharawis, to see the beauty of the dunes but also the desolation of the Hamada.
Peter Hamilton, UK participant 2009

This was a life changing experience for me and it will stay with me for a very long time.
Victoria Bavister, UK participant 2009

The views were spectacular especially on the run and in the dunes. The hospitality of the Saharawi was truly touching. It’s an event that anyone who likes a strong physical challenge. Whomever cares about the Saharawi people absolutely must attend.
UK participant 2009

Wonderful people, place and community. A week felt like a lifetime, packed with adventure and unforgettable experiences.
Fleur Hutchinson, UK participant 2010

Memorable, interesting and fun. Stimulating to have a break that makes you pause to think about important international goings-on that you don’t necessarily think about or encounter in everyday life, as well as the physical challenge of the run.
Julia Lutte, UK participant (and 3rd in Women’s Marathon!) 2010

It will change your life, your perspective, your priorities, and it might just help to change the lives of a people fighting for their fundamental rights to existence. Say no more!
Nina Murray, UK participant 2010

Was it what I expected? Would I go back? Would I recommend it? More. Yes. Unreservedly!
Mar Garvey, 2011 participant 

Now to bring you even closer to the runners' experiences:

To join up or learn more:

Wednesday, 17 August 2011

Svetlana Dimcovic's thoughts on 'El Problema'

Over the last couple of months, Sandblast has organised screenings of 'El Problema', a Spanish documentary which investigates the extent of the Moroccan occupational regime, and the human rights abuses which they enact on the Saharawi refugees. Svetlana Dimcovic, a director and writer, attended one of these screenings at the Freeword Centre on the 11th of July. What follows is her account of the screening:

El Problema

A long winding road.

Arabic signs passed quickly.

Someone speaking, his face not seen.

Instructions given to the backseat operator.
The guards will want this or that…better hide the camera.

But these are not journalists and this is not a news piece. The story unfolds. The car passes the controls. The driver is slowly revealed. He is guide, accomplice, teacher: he is taking the film  makers to the Saharawi people and the footage is not sanctioned. No one has commissioned these artists. No one is expecting this film. So they go on. Into the backstreets witnessing protests. Into people’s homes hearing their stories. Into courtrooms where the innocent await their fate, where the authority of the judge terrifies the young men in the dock.

The guide is beaten. We see the bruises. We see the price of the documentary on his skin and on his face. He is the one who didn’t get away.

The film makers capture what they need. Their camera sees, from the back seat of a moving car, what they could not hope to find without this man leading them to it. They make the film about Western Sahara that is not yet made.

They leave.

He stays, nursing his bruises, waiting.

The above photos are screenshots of 'El Problema'. The middle photo is of the Saharawi human rights defender Aminetou Haider whose comments on the Saharawi situation is particularly enlightening and revealing, as she herself was disappeared, and subsequently arrested.

Svetlana Dimcovic is a Director and Writer. She has recently set up a new writing collective in the Caribbean and regularly contributes to international forums on new writing. Svetlana Dimcovic – Director

Trained at the University of Birmingham, the Royal National Theatre Studio London and the Royal Shakespeare Company, Stratford-upon-Avon.

She has recently set up a new writing collective in the Caribbean and holds new writing workshops and programmes across the world.

She originated and led the Bush BEE Programme at the Bush Theatre, London (2009-2010), was Associate Director of the Gate Theatre, London (2003-2005), Associate Director of the Caird Company, London (2002-2005) and a Trainee Director at the Orange Tree Theatre (2001-2002).  

Her new writing work includes workshops for young playwrights and numerous translations for the Royal Court Theatre, RSC, BBC, West Yorkshire Playhouse, Company of Angels and the Caird Company.

Directing: Belfast Girls ( Kings Head Theatre), The Potting Shed by Graham Greene ( two sold out runs at the Finborough Theatre, 2010 and 2011), Oasis ( Scene Nationale de la Guadeloupe), Nine Night, 45 Minutes from Here (Bush Theatre, Square Chapel Halifax, Theatre in the Mill, Bradford), The God of Hell (Belgrade, Serbia), The Outside (Orange Tree Theatre, Richmond), Lithuanian Festival  (Southwark Playhouse), Zuva Crumbling (Lyric Hammersmith), The Professional (Citizens Theatre, Glasgow), Mushroom Pickers (Southwark Playhouse), Writer’s Generation (Arts Printing House, Vilnius, Lithuania) and The Broken Heel (Riverside Studios).