June 6, 2008
BERKELEY, Calif. - Hello! We're back after a fabulous trip to Africa. We had a grueling trip home (about 24-hours total), but I cannot put into words what this journey has meant to all of us. I knew it was going to be something special, but there was no way we could have been prepared for an adventure of a lifetime. I honestly was very sad to leave. There was such a purpose in us being there. It was one of those experiences where you think you are going to be giving something to someone, but in return, you get so much more back.
I am so grateful to Sandy Barbour for giving us the opportunity to have this experience with this particular team. It would not have been the same adventure without Rama, her family and extended family immersing us in the African culture, allowing us to feel the warmth and genuineness of the African people, recognizing other people's hardships, and understanding the daily struggles of living in a country where hard work doesn't necessarily guarantee you opportunity.
I cannot stop thinking about how much more I want to do for the people we came in contact with. My mind is racing about what to do, how to do it, etc. I hope we can use the platform we have as a basketball team to bring awareness to the problems and challenges in Africa, in particular the youth and babies in desperate need.
It was pretty special seeing our players engaged in all that we were doing. The interaction we had at the clinics and the orphanage and seeing the smiles on the kids' faces was unforgettable. Giving a dollar bill to a seven or eight-year-old and watching them jump up and down like they won the lottery made my day. Watching the babies at the orphanage crawl all over our kids and seeing the joy on the babies' faces was heartwarming and heartbreaking at the same time.
Seeing our players take their shoes off after our last game, hand them to a child and walk to the bus in socks will forever be ingrained in my head. Watching the impromptu dance unfold with the orphanage workers, kids, players and staff made me realize we are all connected as humans, and sharing our wealth, time and knowledge is the least we could do.
We all learned so much more about Rama as we saw her circulate in her own environment. We can now appreciate on a different level how strong she is to have taken the journey to Cal. She is truly special!
I know everyone on the trip was touched in some way, and my hope is that the effects of this journey don't end here. We can all do more to help in some small way, and some of us can do things on a larger scale.
Oh, and did I mention, along the way, we played a few basketball games with some adversity (brutally hot gyms, no game or shot clock, dirty floors and FIBA refs that wouldn't give us a call...go figure!) The best part about it was the team did what it always does - adjusted, played harder, at times smarter, and found ways to win three tough games. They are forever growing as a team!
We will forever be changed by our experiences. It is the start of our new journey into next season!
Thanks for sharing in our African adventure!
All the best,