3FM’s Glass House
By Irina Fomichev
This year 3FM’s Serious Request will take place in Leeuwarden from the 18th till the 24th of December. Three DJs will lock themselves up in the Glass House, not eating for six days in order to raise money for a “silent disaster”. As several initiatives are set up by citizens throughout Holland, even HumCo’s profit will be donated to the Glass House. But what happens to enormous amount of money they collect? And what is the point of not eating?
To start with the second question: the first Serious Request was initiated to fight famine in Darfur. To express solidarity and “experience” the suffering of the people there, three DJs from the Dutch radio station 3FM decided to fast. But they did get nutritious shakes, in contrary to Darfur’s victims. Seeing that the subsequent Glass houses weren’t related to famine, the fasting has nowadays a more promoting function. The DJs aim to attract more attention, resulting in an increase of donations and the creation of an image of compassion.
Serious Request is one of Holland’s most popular charity events. Every year, citizens set up hundreds of initiatives, raising millions of euros; the final amount is often doubled by the government. This year’s charity cause is diarrhoea among children due to the lack of clean water. The money will go to the Red Cross, who plan to supply clean water and soap, build sanitary facilities and educate people about hygiene.
As happens with all big organisations, the question arises whether the money raised will actually serve its true purpose. For the past years complaints have also been voiced about the high salaries of the managers of the Red Cross. So has anything been improved?
The director, Cees Breederveld, already lowered his salary from €172,000 in 2011 to €135,000 in 2012. The Red Cross also publishes a yearly online overview, showing what the money raised was used for. For example, after last year’s action for fighting child mortality, they were able to help 56,243 babies en 45,424 pregnant women. This was achieved by providing vaccines, purchasing bike ambulances, supplying clean water and medical instruments and educating women about nutrition.
Additionally, Eric Corton, the face of Serious Request, looked back at nine years of Serious Request to find out more about the money’s destination and the current state of the projects. Still the question remains: can we be a 100% sure that the full raised amount goes to the intended cause?
This semester Serious Request is also HumCo’s choice for a charity. The committee usually prefers smaller organisations in order to have a better overview where the donations are ending up. “But if people asked about this, they didn’t really understand or know our choice of charity,” says Haris Kalic, chair of HumCo.
HumCo is taking advantage of the publicity around Serious Request, explains vice-chair Marjolein Nieuwenhuis: “We felt in this way more people on campus would be willing to help”. They are planning to present the money to the Glass House in a performance in cooperation with other committees. This way, both the committee and the UCSA can be promoted outside the bubble.
It seems that Serious Request’s popularity is even spreading onto campus; although you might wonder if it wouldn’t be better if HumCo would donate its money to a smaller, needier organisation. And while you could still question the DJs’ act of fasting – some people even regard is as offensive and unfair to the real victims who are hungry 365 days a year – Serious Request does make an effort to justify what happens with our money. Let’s see with how much money 2013 will be able to surpass last year’s edition.
2004: € 915.955
2005: € 2.203.549
2006: € 2.848.495
2007: € 5.249.466
2008: € 5.702.621
2009: € 7.113.447
2010: € 7.135.707
2011: € 8.621.004