September 7-12, 2005

Johannesburg, South Africa


The NBA and Ithuteng Trust Laundry Facility and Guest House Dedication Ceremony.

In previous years the NBA’s visit to the Ithuteng Trust has always proved to be a very emotive and unforgettable one – yesterdays’ trip to the poverty-stricken township of Soweto was certainly no different.

As a continuing part of the NBA’s community outreach efforts, today’s’ event centered on the inauguration of two new buildings; a Laundry room and a Guest House. Once again, the NBA players experienced a rollercoaster of emotions. From the painful theatrical performance, to the impressive gymnastic display, to the comic antics of guest Chris Tucker, it was further proof of the resolve of the young children in the face of adversity.

The Ithuteng Trust is a "youth empowerment program" that works to provide at-risk youth with life skills and education. Most of the 3,000 youngsters at the school come from extremely poor families, and a majority are orphans due to political violence, crime and/or AIDS. They had never felt loved until they came into the welcoming hands of Jackey Maarohanye, the founder and spiritual leader of the Trust, affectionately known as "Mama Jackey" by the students. One of the first things they are taught is to love themselves. ‘Don’t let what may have happened to you negatively impact the way you see yourself,’ reiterates Mama Jackey, ‘Instead, hold your head high, acknowledge your innate gifts and share this with others.’

Actor/comedian Chris Tucker, who was visibly touched by proceedings, was still able to lighten the mood; with the sun beating down he commented on the fact that the children were all wearing their school uniforms ‘I won’t talk for long as y’all must be real hot with those sweaters on!’

Since the first Basketball without Borders Africa Camp in 2003, the NBA and WNBA remains committed to the children at Ithuteng and to the work of Mama Jackey. Through the NBA/WNBA partnership, the Trust has built a Reading & Learning Center with new books and computers, dormitories and a new basketball court.

At the end of the day, the players, by this time dressed in traditional African garb, planted rose bushes in front of the newly opened buildings; as Jerome Williams commented, ‘Children are the flowers of the world.’

HIV – Human Immunodeficiency Virus

AIDS – Acquired Immuno Deficiency Syndrome

The Global Picture:

  • AIDS kills more than 3million people every year
  • More than 500,000 of them are children
  • Roughly 40 million people are living with the virus
  • More than 2 million of them are children
  • The number of children orphaned by AIDS grew from 11.5 million to 15 million between 2001 and 2003
  • Every day, half of all new HIV infections are among young people between the ages of 15 and 24
  • The HIV epidemics in Asia, Eastern Europe and Central Asia are the fastest growing in the world
  • Sub-Saharan Africa has just over 10% of the world’s population but is home to more than 60% of all people living with HIV – some 25.4 million
  • In 2004, an estimated 3.1 million people in the region became newly infected, while 2.3 million died of AIDS.

    The challenge of keeping the next generation HIV-free means far more resources must be invested in prevention among young people.

    Day 4 photo gallery: Educating the youth