Over in Uganda, they’re cheer­ing the Thun­der

It’s thanks to an ef­fort to give kids a sport­ing chance

Ottawa Citizen - - SPORTS - LISA WAL­LACE

Al­go­nquin Col­lege’s sports teams have plenty of fans, but few re­al­ize that some of the Thun­der’s big­gest live in Uganda.

Thanks to the gen­eros­ity of ath­letic di­rec­tor Ron Port and for­mer stu­dent Jimmy Se­bu­lime, chil­dren in Uganda are wear­ing clean shirts and get­ting the op­por­tu­nity to play sports they love.

Se­bu­lime, who played four sea­sons with the Al­go­nquin Thun­der men’s bas­ket­ball team, now works for the Canada Africa Com­mu­nity Health Al­liance, an or­ga­ni­za­tion that of­fers ba­sic health care to iso­lated African vil­lages.

In ad­di­tion to the health care ser­vices, the al­liance also helped build a re­source cen­tre in the small vil­lage of Ka­mengo, which in­cluded the construction of a bas­ket­ball court.

For Se­bu­lime, it was a huge ac­com­plish­ment. He knows too well what the ges­ture means to the com­mu­nity’s youth.

Se­bu­lime, orig­i­nally from Uganda, says there are many chil­dren who show prom­ise, both aca­dem­i­cally and ath­let­i­cally, but have few op­por­tu­ni­ties at their dis­posal.

The 31-year-old con­sid­ers him­self ex­tremely for­tu­nate to have moved to Canada as an ado­les­cent, but is de­ter­mined to help make a dif­fer­ence for the chil­dren of Uganda.

“When I first came to Canada, I went to a boys and girls club and it was won­der­ful,” Se­bu­lime says. “We wanted to do some­thing like that in Ka­mengo.”

Se­bu­lime says Port’s gen­eros­ity has sup­plied the cen­tre with bas­ket­balls, soc­cer balls and var­i­ous other sports equip­ment. Port has also do­nated T-shirts and used team ap­parel.

“We try to teach mem­bers of the com­mu­nity hy­giene,” said Se­bu­lime. “Be­ing able to give them clothes re­ally helps. I was on their end at one point and get­ting th­ese items gives them hope and vi­sion.”

Port is more than happy to help Se­bu­lime. He be­lieves the project is of value and is pleased for the chance to help a for­mer stu­dent.

“Jimmy was al­ways a hard worker both on and off the court,” Port says. “He’s a mo­ti­vated in­di­vid­ual who is ded­i­cated to the projects in his home­land.”

Se­bu­lime says he’ll al­ways be grate­ful to Port for his friend­ship and sup­port.

While he was a stu­dent at Al­go­nquin, Port hired Se­bu­lime to work at the ath­letic fa­cil­ity to help re- lieve some of the fi­nan­cial bur­den the young stu­dent was fac­ing.

“He al­ways looked af­ter me,” Se­bu­lime says.

Port says see­ing pic­tures of the youth from Uganda wear­ing the Tshirts with the Thun­der logo brought home the im­por­tance of his ges­ture.

“It makes you feel like you are mak­ing a dif­fer­ence, as small as that may be,” he says. “I am al­ways kid­ding Jimmy, ask­ing him to make them smile or laugh be­cause they look so se­ri­ous in the pic­tures.”

Se­bu­lime has been work­ing with CACHA for four years and left Sun­day for an­other trip to Ka­mengo, where he will be as­sist­ing on a 10-day med­i­cal mis­sion.

CANADA AFRICA COM­MU­NITY HEALTH AL­LIANCE

Jimmy Se­bu­lime, above, who played bas­ket­ball for the Al­go­nquin Thun­der as a stu­dent, greets chil­dren in his na­tive Uganda. He now works for the Canada Africa Com­mu­nity Health Al­liance, who with help from Al­go­nquin ath­letic di­rec­tor Ron Port, pro­vided...

JIMMY SE­BU­LIME

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