Halfway around the world, Ron Hunter was reminded of home on Monday.
In Nigeria to help Samaritan’s Feet, a charitable organization he works with, give away thousands of pairs of shoes to children, Hunter was approached by a man.
“What do you know about Georgia State?” the man asked, looking at the shirt Hunter was wearing.
After explaining that he coaches the basketball team, the man, an American and executive with an oil company who lives in the country, said, “When you get back to Atlanta, please tell my daughter I love her.”
His daughter, Apryl Goodwin, finished her last season on the university’s women’s soccer team in 2010.
“It was unbelievable to see the parent of a student-athlete all the way in
Nigeria,” he said.
Of course, that was just a bonus. Hunter is there to help the less fortunate.
Calling from a town somewhere between Lagos and Victoria Island, Hunter said it’s raining. Looking out a window, he said people are just standing in the rain.
“The poverty is …I wish people could see what I see,” he said. “It’s raining, people have nowhere to go. In America, when it rains you go inside. There’s no inside for these people.”
They gave away 1,000 pairs of shoes on Tuesday. Unfortunately, more than 5,000 children showed up. Samaritan’s Feet has to pace the number of shoes it gives away to ensure it has enough to hand out at each stop. Otherwise, they could run out quickly.
“That’s the hard part,” he said. “The little kids don’t understand. That’s the hard part for me.”
Tomorrow will be Hunter’s last stop before he has to make his way back to Lagos to fly to Atlanta. The group that remains will head to an island where there’s a school with 500 kids.
“I wish I could stay longer,” he said.
The trip has drawn the attention of journalists in the country. Hunter said he’s done his best to explain Georgia State to the reporters, one of whom had a harder time than the others. He thought Hunter coached the Atlanta Hawks.
“It took so long to explain it to him I just let him think that,” Hunter said.
He said emotionally he’s exhausted, but he’s already looking forward to hopefully bringing his team back to Nigeria next year to help Samaritan’s Feet.
“I want them to see what the culture is about,” he said. “These people have nothing but the smiles on their faces. When they get their shoes they light up like it’s Christmas.”
– Doug Roberson, AJC. Please follow me on twitter @ajcgsu.