This trip has changed my life.
It is life changing to be in the Motherland with my mom, as well as Kim and Khloe, and Ray Crockett, on behalf of the Diamond Empowerment Fund (DEF). They’re about empowerment through education in Africa’s diamond producing countries. It’s been such an incredible week – I don’t even know where to start. We’ve seen the highest highs and the lowest lows. Everywhere we’ve gone we’ve been sung to by our hosts as a way of sharing and welcoming us.
Getting here from home in LA was no joke. 25+ hours in the air by the time we made it to our first stop, a children’s rehabilitation center outside Gaborone, Botswana. We were met by the country’s former President Festus Mogae and the people from DeBeers in Botswana for a tour and visit with the kids. From there, we drove 2 hours each way to the community of Jwaneng, where Botswana’s biggest diamond mine is located. We visited a school where all the kids of the mine workers go where a kid asked me what it’s like playing against Chad Johnson. I didn’t think these kids in a village in Africa would know American football, nevermind playing against Ocho Cinco.
From there, we returned to South Africa where we had some drama at the airport when Kim couldn’t make it into the country because her passport was left on the plane. After all of us cleared and Kim was still stuck on the other side, we talked them into letting me back out where the planes were parked. By some miracle I found it.
Yesterday was packed from beginning to end with the following stops: 1) center for children from birth to 9 years old with HIV, 2) children’s feeding program in Soweto where we got to do the distribution of the morning meal of bread with peanut butter and a glass of milk and tossed footballs with some of the boys. The grannies who run and care for the children sang and danced for us and my mom was overwhelmed with tears by how beautiful the moment was. We all were. 3) lunch with the head of De Beers South Africa. 4) visit to CIDA City Campus, a free college that DEF supports. 5) visit to Maharshi Institute, a business college that uses meditation and is a favorite of DEF’s founder Russell Simmons. 6) visit with 3 students from the African Leadership Academy who were mad smart and will one day be in charge. 7) Dinner hosted by Lee-Anne Summers and Andrew Farr in a penthouse where the suprise guests were a pair of lion cubs, no joke.
Today we are catching our breath and getting ready to do a safari. Africa is nothing what I expected but much more. The people are incredible, the cities have everything we’ve got, but there’s also huge needs to get all these kids the resources they deserve for a better life. That’s why I am going to get to work helping DEF’s Athletes for Africa program. We can do this.