When Oprah Endorses – My SaveDarfur story

Posted: January 8, 2015 by Don Weobong
Tags: Save Darfur,
Comments: 0 comments

I am sure many have their own Oprah stories but I decided to write this because of  a line I read in a recent review of Lee Daniel’s movie ‘The Butler’ starring Forest Whitaker, Oprah Winfrey (of course) and a host of stellar cast members. I have not personally seen the movie but I plan to as soon as I can. You can read the full review here. So here’s the line that caught my attention as [Dergarabedian said. “An Oprah Winfrey endorsement virtually guarantees you a hit.”]. That’s when I remember my own close encounter of Oprah’s star dust effect. It was back in July of 2004 when reports of atrocities in Darfur started flooding the Internet. I decided at the time perhaps I can do something. I registered a simple website: www.savedarfur.com and proceeded to write a few articles. I figured maybe this will highlight the problem and spur people to act. Little did I know that there was a well-organized coalition of church, religious, Jewish and I believe Muslim groups also looking into helping to solve this intractable problem. This group was called … wait for it ‘The Save Darfur Coalition’ and they had a websitewww.savedarfur.org. Well so far nothing interesting was happening on my end… until one day in September or October. I don’t remember exactly, when I got an email from my web hosting company complaining about my bandwidth usage (essentially how much traffic/visits to one’s website).  Apparently mine where off the charts. The web hosting company said the culprit account was ‘savedarfur.com’. I was incredulous. Was this some crude hack attempt? Why would anyone hack a website called savedardur.com? Oh well.  Strangely enough, I started noticing a lot of activity in my email for savedarfur; basically folks asking how they could help, and so on. This was all too weird.

Then it happened. I got a call from David Rubenstein (from the official Save Darfur group). He was very pleasant on the phone; no threats about legal action for using a name similar to theirs etc. He asked how we could work together since we seem to have a common objective. I was like  ‘sure no problem man…I was doing this help the cause so it’s all good.’ I ended up donating my domain www.savedarfur.com to the coalition (as a redirect). That’s when he explained that the reason I sought me out in the first place was because he had been on the Oprah Winfrey Show. David explained that someone has made a mistake in their TV captioning for their website and instead of www.savedarfur.org (their site) showing up on the TV show’s captions, they putwww.savedarfur.com (my site). Of course that made sense. It explained the huge spike in traffic and the corresponding outpouring of goodwill and offers of help (to my email..) which I promptly forwarded to the savedarfur.org organization. I have since continued to work with Savedarfur in whatever capacity I can or am needed. Check out this little page they even set up about this relationship –http://savedarfur.org/pages/special_thanks As matter of fact the organization and morphed into advocacy for a number of goals beyond just Darfur. However I still remember that once evening in September of 2004, when I happened to be on the receiving end of an Oprah Winfrey endorsement (of sorts). Thought I would share what many of you perhaps already know…. Make sure your website is ready for primetime; you never know when Oprah will endorse you. Actually it was a neat experience and shows sometimes good, honest work ends up working out for all parties of good will. Don p.s. please visit www.savedarfur.org to learn about their amazing work