Oklahoma City Thunder forward Nick Collison evidently likes taking field trips.
While a trip to the NBA Finals was the initial goal for a "field trip" to start the season, another box on the to-do list was to make a return trip to Africa. Back in 2008, Collison participated in "Basketball without Borders" in South Africa, and was asked in 2012 to join the NBA and UNICEF trip to Kenya, Collison quickly agreed.
The former Kansas Jayhawks legend joined up with NBA legend Dikembe Mutombo and Milwaukee Bucks forward Luc Mbah a Moute to take the trip to Kenya. Collison has been travel-blogging for NBA.com, here is his first entry.
Entry 1: Making my way to Kenya
I previously attended Basketball without Borders in Johannesburg, South Africa, in 2008, so this marks my second trip to Africa. I had a great experience and wanted to return, so when I was approached by the NBA to come to Kenya as part of a UNICEF field trip followed by another BWB in Johannesburg, I jumped at the opportunity.
Friday morning I left New York on a flight to Johannesburg then on to Nairobi. The total travel time was over 20 hours. After relaxing Saturday we had a day to spend in Nairobi. A small group of us toured Kibera which is one of the largest slums in the world, located in the middle of Nairobi. Walking through Kibera was a powerful experience. The living conditions are awful. Children are playing barefoot in the dirt roads among the sewage and garbage. Like many other parts of Africa, HIV and AIDS is a major problem. Families have taken in orphans into their already overcrowded homes. I visited a similar neighborhood in South Africa in 2008. Both times I came away feeling sad for the people, but also inspired by them. Despite their struggles, life goes on. I met people who are working to help others through churches and small health clinics. The children were playing with smiles on their faces. It is a great experience to see how other people in different parts of the world live. It gives perspective and appreciation for what is important in life.
The journey continues today as I am on a plane to Kakuma. I am part of a UNICEF team going to visit a refugee camp that is the home of over 100,000 refugees displaced by conflict or famine. I will fill you in on what comes next...
Collison and the rest of the crew made their way to Kakuma next, and if you've been following the Thunder forward's twitter handle, the man's been exposed to a new reality in Kenya.
I'd strongly encourage you to read Collison's full travel log from across the Atlantic when time permits. Its a lengthy read, but along with Collison's emerging journalistic chops, he paints a real picture as to what life is like for those who overcome real struggles on a daily basis. Maybe next time when the Olympics aren't cramping the summer schedule, Collison will get Durant, Harden and Westbrook to join him.