Holly Rilinger, a fitness expert and former WNBA player, who joined our team to create a physical education program for the girls at the Malaika School, recently visited the DRC.
My trip to the Congo started out as what sounded like an interesting project. It ended up being something that changed the course of my life. When I agreed to create a PE program for GMalaikaMF I took a couple seconds and my inside voice said “you don’t know how to do that” and my outside voice said “yes”. It’s amazing how powerful that word can be.
With the help of Elizabeth Right, we created the first PE program these girls would participate in through their schooling with Malaika. On numerous occasions the fear of being able to properly execute the project crept into my head. I kept telling myself (and Elizabeth kept telling me) “You have a lifetime of experience in sports and fitness. YOU CAN DO THIS!!”
I’ll never forget driving up to that school. I saw the girls playing in the field. One by one they stopped what they were doing. Some smiled and some just ran to where the car was pulling up. They stood on the steps of the school and sang to me in their own language the most beautiful welcome song, as tears rolled down my face. I knew at that moment that they would have my heart not only for that week…but forever.
I realized on this trip just how much I have to give. My life’s journey has such purpose now because I know what I can give back. Growing up playing sports has given me so many opportunities and taught me so many lessons. Sports taught me how to win and lose. It taught me how to be a leader, be led and how to be part of a team. I learned that discipline, integrity and heart are important not only on the field, but in life. To be able to share this gift with 150 little girls who otherwise would never have the opportunity is a GIFT.
These little girls had such light in them. By giving them what I can give, they helped my light shine brighter. I will thankfully never be the same.