We found this article via the ESPN website, and thought it was a beautiful story to share. The author, Mo Akiode, is a former basketball star player at Fordham University, and now resides in Nigeria, her homecountry, where she leads Hope 4 Girls Africa, a non-profit organization dedicated to the increased participation of underprivileged African girls in sports and education.
The photo above is of Uju Ugoka and Ijeoma Uchendu, two girls from Nigeria that Mo helped to bring to Grayson college on a basketball scholarship.
A few dreams came true when I watched the girls leave the shores of Nigeria and headed for Texas, fulfilling their dream of playing college basketball in the U.S and my dream of supporting education and opportunity for girls from Africa. Grayson College's first-year coach Elena Lovato gave our girls an opportunity to better their lives together as collegiate student-athletes. When I first met Ijeoma and Uju in 2009, they were not in school, like many of the other students. They were finding their ways through life, but both families lacked the means to do better for their girls. (Uju is one of eight children, and Ijeoma is one of seven.) There was so much potential there, but it had yet to be maximized. I knew if these girls had an opportunity to show their talent and their work ethic, their lives would never be the same. I couldn't imagine what my life would be like without my college experience, and I was obsessed with making that happen for these young ladies.
In all our programs, we emphasize the importance of education, as education is the great equalizer in all things. Because of education, the sky is the limit for these two young women, and I've always believed the first step out of poverty starts with an educated and enlightened mind. In Africa, we need to do a better job of using sports as a social development tool to support and encourage our girls through the many hardships they face growing up in an impoverished environment. Uju and Ijeoma will always serve as a reminder that every sacrifice made, every tear shed and every sleepless night was more than worth it.
To read the rest of the story, click HERE.