Biyombo Continues Widespread Humanitarian Efforts in the DR Congo

by Sam Perley

No matter how long Hornets center Bismack Biyombo’s NBA career carries on, he always finds time to give back to his home country, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, in the offseason.

According to his Twitter page, Biyombo recently visited with patients and staff at the Kitambo Hospital in the capital city of Kinshasa and provided new medical supplies and equipment for the facility. He also helped set up a solar-powered mobile medical clinic in Karisimbi, a commune located near the eastern border of the central African nation.

“We bring in new equipment, we paint, we fix everything that’s not working,” said Biyombo during his Hornets exit interview back in May. “We also bring in doctors that can train the local doctors so we can make sure the equipment we bring in will be functioning properly.”

Biyombo continues to walk in the size-22 footsteps (!) of fellow countryman and Basketball Hall-of-Famer Dikembe Mutombo. Amongst a number of other philanthropic endeavors over the last few decades, Mutombo funded the Biamba Marie Mutombo Hospital in Kinshasa, which opened in 2007 and is named in honor of his late mother.

“Mutombo has built a hospital. It’s probably one of the best hospitals [in the country],” Biyombo added. “I didn’t want to start building hospitals because it didn’t make sense for me to dive into that until we figure out a way to have the ones that are already there up and running properly. I think the goal for me is to refurbish as many hospitals as possible. Once they’re up and running and there are more hospitals needed, then we’re going to dive into that.”

Earlier during his pilgrimage back home, Biyombo’s Foundation staged the first annual Summer Soccer & Basketball Tournament in Kinshasa. According to the now 26-year-old, the outreach program has hosted around 1,000 kids in the past few months.

Basketball in the country has steadily been gaining more traction on the international landscape. The DRC National Team (which Biyombo does not play for) just won the first-ever FIBA AfroCan Tournament with an 81-62 title-sealing victory over Kenya on July 27. Unlike AfroBasket (aka the FIBA African Championships) which is hosted every four years, the biannual AfroCan exclusive features players who play for African-based basketball clubs.

The Leopards finished sixth at the latest rendition of AfroBasket in 2017, their highest such placing since 1980. Biyombo and Mutombo are two of the five players from the DRC to have graced an NBA hardwood for a regular season game, joining DJ Mbenga, Christian Eyenga and Emmanuel Mudiay. Three DRC players (two male, one female) are taking part in this week’s Basketball Without Borders Africa Camp in Senegal.

Biyombo plans to upgrade a total of six medical facilities this summer, but these refurbishments aren’t the only thing on his agenda. Having already opened the Kivu International School in Goma, his foundation is working on building the second of three schools in addition to a fourth basketball academy. The facilities at Kivu currently include 20 classrooms, a library, computer lab, basketball court, soccer field, gym, playground, auditorium and theater.

Healthcare and education are the primary focal points right now for Biyombo, with job creation also on the horizon. Like other African nations, the DRC has endured civil war and ethnic conflict for much of the last half century, leaving some areas of the country in particular dire states.

“In the Congo, we don’t have free healthcare,” Biyombo stressed. “That’s the No. 1 thing. We don’t have that and my whole vision is one day we’ll get to that point. People are dying of basic things that we could take care of. I’m in a position to do so. It is the right thing to do. We’re going to work hard to hopefully get to a point where everybody’s going to have access to good healthcare.”

There are over 91 million people currently living in the DRC and the Bismack Biyombo Foundation is doing everything in its power to provide a better way of life for as many of them as possible. Now about to enter his ninth NBA season, the Hornets center continues to heavily prioritize giving back to those in need, especially in his homeland.

(Photo courtesy of @BismackBiyombo)

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