Professional athletes are known for their exceptional skill, rigorous training and raw talent. That’s what sets them apart from everyone else. And within the professional athletic world, there are those whose compassion and generous spirit set them apart from their peers. MATTER is proud to partner with three such athletes this year: Bismack Biyombo of the Orlando Magic, the Los Angeles Lakers’ Luol Deng and Gorgui Dieng of the Minnesota Timberwolves. For these players, basketball is more than just a game. It’s also provided them the means by which they can give back to their home countries in inspiring and life changing ways.
Bismack Biyombo, Orlando Magic
The Orlando Magic’s Bismack Biyombo grew up in Lubumbashi, in southeastern Congo. Life in the copper mining town of 1.2 million was hard. Bismack had to walk almost an hour to school, seldom with shoes that fit. His parents struggled to put food on the table and he often ate only one meal a day. At 16, Bismack left his family in Lubumbashi to pursue his dream of becoming a professional basketball player. The journey from young ball player in Congo to professional athlete in the NBA was not easy, and the contrast between his two lives could not be more different. Yet Bismack has not forgotten where he comes from. Indeed, fulfilling his dream of becoming a professional basketball player has served to fuel an even bigger dream of helping to improve life for those in his home country.
As Bismack explained in an interview with The Undefeated in April 2016, “Here in America, you are just a basketball player, a star. Home, you are more than a basketball player. They see us as people that are going to help them change their situation and use their platform for something.”
MATTER is honored to help Bismack see his dream realized in equipping large hospitals in urban centers, as well as rural clinics serving displaced mothers in Congo. MATTER will also assist in establishing a demonstration farm in Congo to improve farming and agriculture practices. In Goma, we will implement a self-sustaining medical “pod,” allowing this community to thrive “off the grid.” In total, this partnership will impact the communities in and around Kinshasa, Goma, and Lubumbashi.
Luol Deng, Los Angeles Lakers
Happy New Year to everyone w🌍rldwide. I had the opportunity to start 2018 off by spending time with @Matter_ngo to discuss how we can work together to help people all over the world. SWIPE LEFT ◀ to see the video of some of the work that @Matter_ngo has done. Can’t wait for @ldengf to take part in some of their future projects. #GiftedToGive #2018
The unlikely journey that brought Luol Deng to the Los Angeles Lakers began in South Sudan where Luol was born. When civil war broke out, his family fled to Egypt, then on to London before Luol moved to the United States at age 14 to take advantage of the opportunities here for promising young athletes. Within five years he was playing at the professional level. Like Gorgui and Bismack, Luol wants to use his stature as a pro athlete and the resources now available to him to give back to his home country.
MATTER will partner with Luol Deng’s charitable foundation to help provide basic needs in the communities in the Aweil State of South Sudan. In this inaugural project, food has been identified as the greatest initial need due to the famine identified by the United Nations and the continued emergency levels of hunger. MATTER will deliver nutritionally-fortified healthy meals with a long-term vision of providing tools and resources to local clinics, hospitals, and farms to create a sustainable future for South Sudan.
Gorgui Dieng, Minnesota Timberwolves
Je voudrais remercier tout ceux qui ont consenti des efforts incroyable pour soutenir la fondation Gorgui Dieng et moi meme pour aider mes compatriotes. Le don de matériel médical aussi bien à Dakar que à Mbour s’est très bien déroulé . Le camp de basket à Kebemer continue de grandir et je remercie le directeur du camp et son équipe. Je remercie aussi mes parents , ma famille,ma femme et mes amis pour leur soutient sans faille. Encore une fois jeureujeuf et à l’année prochaine inchallah. #Senegalmonpays #Kebemermaville #Matterngo #gorguidiengfoundation
Gorgui Dieng of the Minnesota Timberwolves was born and raised in the West African country of Senegal. He learned small town values in his rural hometown of Kebemer. Though life has taken Gorgui far from the life he knew there, those communal values he learned growing up still guide his life today. And that’s most evident in the foundation he’s established with the goal of “Building a Sustainable Future in Senegal.”
Since 2015, MATTER has joined forces with The Gorgui Dieng Foundation to help the Timberwolves player achieve his dream for Senegal through efforts in medical, food, agriculture and athletics projects. On the medical front, MATTER has helped the foundation procure and ship seven containers and $2.2 million of life-saving medical equipment and supplies for the main hospital in Kebemer. In partnership with the Roger and Nancy McCabe Foundation, a new dialysis center in the capital city of Dakar was inaugurated in May 2017. On the agricultural front, MATTER has worked with Gorgui to design and implement a demonstration farm utilizing ecologically sustainable practices in his home town.
On March 6, 2018, MATTER is hosting the Gorgui Dieng Foundation Gala event in Minneapolis. Guests will learn about MATTER’s partnership with Gorgui and have the opportunity to invest in our efforts in Senegal, including equipping the Diamniadio Children’s Hospital in Senegal and providing farm training for local farmers. To order tickets, visit: thegorguidiengproject.eventbrite.com.
MATTER believes in a world where every single person can live a full and healthy life. We’re honored to team up with these extraordinary athletes who share our vision and are dedicated to using their unique opportunities and resources to make this vision a true reality for the people of their home countries.
Download the press release: MATTER & NBA Africa Projects