Editor’s Note: This post was written by Green Bay Packers linebacker and Enough Project upstander Andy Mulumba.
As a young man, I had never thought of making it to one of the most prestigious professional leagues in the world. But I was offered the opportunity to start playing football at a young age and used it as a way to make it through college and earn a degree, and I jumped on the opportunity and made the best out of it. I will always be thankful to my parents for all the trouble they went through to move my entire family from a beautiful but divided country, rich but poor in its own misery, prosperous but with a lack of opportunities for everyone.
Growing up in Zaire – before it was re-named Congo after the 1997 takeover by Laurent Kabila – was an unforgettable experience. As we were growing up (my siblings and I), we had to move to many different places in a short period of time. Living in a secure environment was a priority for our family because it would enable each one of us to pursue our education in a good school. Having my father working for the United Nations had me thinking of helping the less fortunate whenever I would have the opportunity to do so.
Joining the NFL was a great accomplishment, not only for me, but also for my family, friends, and everyone that has always believed in my skills and ability to play the game. I really hope to make an impact in society by succeeding as a player and bringing hope to the young men in DRC and help them accomplish their own dreams. One person that I have always looked up to is Dikembe Mutombo. He is a great personality in Congo and I have known his accomplishments since my younger days living there. I personally think that he has set the path for anyone willing to help the country by any means necessary.
A couple of weeks into my rookie season in 2013, I was approached by Aaron Rodgers about the Enough Project’s Raise Hope for Congo campaign. Aaron was going to host a rally at the University of Wisconsin – Madison and invited me to join him. I will always be thankful to him for introducing me to this cause. The rally was to raise awareness about Congo and the conflict minerals, which I knew nothing about at that time. As we started talking, and I did some research of my own, I had a better understanding of the situation and was honored to be part of the campaign. I have never felt so good about doing something for my country and I have been looking forward to getting more involved in this amazing cause. Since the rally, many people have approached me asking if they could help in any possible way. It is heartwarming and I always tell them that raising awareness can change the situation more than they can anticipate. Some of them are even willing to travel to Congo and help improve the situation, working with the campaign and the Enough Project in general.
The conflict mineral situation effects not only politicians, but children and parents living nearby those mines in Congo. Their lives are always in danger, an uncertain future and a stressful living that none of them deserves. My biggest issue is what have we done to help these people? What type of actions can we take to turn the situation around?
Raising awareness about those issues will hopefully bring out the Good Samaritan in all of us and make a change that could impact an entire generation. That is why I joined the Enough Project: to help change someone’s life with my effort by contributing to this campaign, raising awareness, and bringing people together for a common cause.
Photo credit: Laura Yin, Raise Hope for Congo