View Full Version : NFL players lend a hand on charity trip to Africa

05-15-2009, 12:23 AM

HOUSTON - Amobi Okoye couldn't take his eyes off the little girl in the colourful dress.

The Houston Texans tackle walked past her but was immediately drawn back. What was her story? What did she need?

And, most importantly, how could he help?

He met hundreds of children during a recent eight-day charity trip with other NFL players to Africa, but the image of that one little girl at a medical clinic he organized was burned into his memory.

Children like her are the reason he went to Africa. And the same children motivate the 21-year-old to do so much more.

"It's just unfortunate that she can't have the medical care she needs to better herself and for her to live," Okoye said. "I think at that moment I really understood."

Health care is an important part of his work, but education is his main focus. The Nigerian-born Okoye believes the best way to improve the lives of children in Africa is through improved educational opportunities.

That's why he assembled a group of players for a voyage to the continent to distribute scholarships and organize clinics on everything from female empowerment to AIDS education.

Good work to be sure, but he has a much grander vision, with plans to open a school in Nigeria to help educate some of the four million who lack access to basic education.

Okoye is a perfect example of the benefits of hard work and a good education. He started high school at 12 and college at 16. He passed up Harvard to play football at Louisville and graduated in 3 1/2 years with a degree in psychology.

When he was chosen with the 10th pick in the 2007 draft, he was just 19, making him the youngest player drafted in the NFL since 1967.