Gorgui Dieng isn’t exactly a household name in the NBA. This season for the Minnesota Timberwolves, he’s averaging 6.9 points and 4.6 rebounds in just over 17 minutes per game.
But in his native country of Senegal, Dieng has reportedly become a star — not for his basketball play, but for what he has given to the country.
According to an article by Marc J. Spears for The Undefeated, Dieng, a member of Louisville’s 2013 national championship-winning basketball team, was inspired to start helping his native country a little more than three years ago, when he visited the hospital where he was born in Kebeber, Senegal. None of the patients had beds. Dieng saw one pregnant woman lying on the ground. When he asked a doctor what was going on, the doctor said the hospital had nowhere else to put her.
Upon returning to Minnesota, Dieng partnered with Quenton Marty, founder of the non-profit organization Matter, to start the Gorgui Dieng Foundation. First, Dieng and Marty shipped medical supplies to Senegal. Then, Marty joined Dieng on a visit to his hometown hospital. Marty was reportedly horrified by the conditions.
“Over the last 20 years, because of the work that I do, I’ve seen a lot of dilapidated hospitals,” Marty told Spears. “This one was among the worst.”
Today, the hospital has beds and improved medical supplies. Dieng and Matter also helped set up a 200-person dialysis clinic and a neonatal care unit for babies.
Dieng didn’t stop there, however. He has also purchased 100 acres of land in Senegal and used it to educate locals about proper farming practices.
“Farming is very big in Africa, but people don’t do it the proper way,” Dieng said. “Through my foundation, I can train people. I give up my own land so people can practice the proper way to farm.”
Dieng’s work has not gone unnoticed. Spears reported that last August, Senegal made Dieng its ambassador of tourism, with the goal that his work will inspire tourists and businesses to come to Senegal. Former NBA player and Senegal native Makhtar N’Diaye told Spears that Dieng’s work has made him a hero in his home country.
“He’s becoming a brand in Senegal and is an inspiration to the youth,” N’Diaye said. “He’s working towards becoming an icon. It’s all about legacy for him.”
Dieng told Spears his work is not done. He hopes to open a major hospital in his hometown and eventually expand his outreach beyond Senegal, to Africa as a whole.
“I want to have an impact on the community wherever I am at,” Dieng said. “Whether it is in the States or in China, Senegal, whenever. If you leave somewhere and have an impact, it’s like having a statue in the streets. That’s the way I see things.”
Check out Spears’ story for more info on how Dieng has given back to his home country.
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