AN UNDERsized NHL defenseman who was drafted 208th, the Bruins' Andrew Ference knows about humility, which might explain why he quickly said yes when offered the chance to spend eight days visiting schools and orphanages in AIDS-ravaged Tanzania. Says Ference, 28, of a country where some 1.1 million children have lost one or both parents to the disease, "It was a chance to educate myself and see what life was really like in a Third World country, instead of getting the five-star version sipping cocktails by a pool."
Ference, from Edmonton, was joined by a friend, Panthers defenseman Steve Montador (yellow shirt and below), on a 10-day trip organized by the Toronto-based humanitarian organization Right to Play. Along the way the athletes got some surprises. Some preteen boys at an orphanage borrowed Ference's digital camera and, he says, "recorded a Swahili rap for me and a song by Jay-Z." Another time the players were wending through tall grass when they came across two green mamba snakes. "I asked our guide if he had antivenin in case we were bitten," says Ference. "He said, 'Nope, you just lie down and relax. In about 60 seconds you'll die.'?"
Besides playing soccer and netball with the kids—Right to Play uses sports to teach concepts such as "peace building" and "conflict resolution"—Ference and Montador explained hockey, using two, 18-inch-long plastic hockey sticks. Tanzania is an equatorial country where snow is restricted to the peaks of Kilimanjaro. "They held the sticks correctly," says Montador, "but it was hard for them to understand the concept of skates and ice across a large surface."
Other games were laden with health messages and provided the kind of experiences the children desperately need. "While playing, you're hugging and high-fiving them and you almost forget their situation," says Ference. "One day we were playing soccer with about 400 kids around. The staff told us 65 percent of them either had AIDS or were orphaned by it. They're just struggling to survive."
August 26, 2007
The Pop Culture Grid
|How do sports stars fit in?||CD I can't get enough of this summer||Number of hours I slept last night||Summer movie that shouldn't get a sequel||Food that's been in my fridge the longest||Favorite piece of summer clothing||I shouldn't eat _____, but I can't resist|
|RAUL IBA√ëEZ Mariners LF||Anything by Third Day||Eight||I love all of the sequels.||Frozen steak we meant to grill in May||Quicksilver camouflage shorts||Chicken wings. I love them|
|WILL HESMER Crew GK||Stadium Arcadium (Chili Peppers, top)||Seven and a half||License to Wed||Protein shakes (six months)||Rainbow sandals||Fried chicken|
|TOM GORZELANNY Pirates P||How To Save a Life (The Fray)||Five||Summer Catch||A frozen pizza (a few months)||Shorts||M&M ice cream sandwiches|
|NAPOLEON HARRIS Chiefs LB||Luvanmusiq (Musiq Soulchild)||Six||Shrek 3||Popeyes chicken (three weeks)||White T-shirt, shorts, Nikes||Strawberry cheesecake|