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Andrew Ference's African Diary, Day 6

Saturday, 07.21.2007 / 9:32 AM ET / Features
By Andrew Ference  - Special Correspondent | BostonBruins.com
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Andrew Ference recently traveled to Africa with "Right to Play." The Bruins D-man kept a diary on his journey and you can read his thoughts about the trip in this seven installment series.

[ Day 1 | Day 2 | Day 3 | Day 4 | Day 5 | Day 6 | Day 7Photo Gallery ]

Normally I hate running. 

During the NHL off-season I bike, skate or kayak for my cardio workout rather than hammer the pavement for an hour -- sore quad muscles and shin splints just aren't my cup of tea. 

But show me an opportunity to join 150 primary school kids on a sunrise jog into the Serengeti and you just might win me over. The icing on that cake would be that the same 150 kids are all singing African folk songs as they run.

It really is hard to have a clear mind in day-to-day life, to erase the to-do list from your mind and not worry about your daily problems.  But for an hour this morning my mind was as clear as the day I was born.  I had an angelic soundtrack to join my view of the famous African plains, dotted with the migration of wildebeest, whom are on their way to Kenya.

Andrew spoke to the class about hockey and other various topics
We were welcomed into their school after the run to talk about Canada and hockey to the children.  They were curious about the ice and cold and wondered if you can die from being so chilled!  They tried shooting a tennis ball with a toy stick we brought with us and put forth an admirable job at it as well. 

Whatever they lacked in hockey skill, they more than made up for in their celebrations when they scored.

We joined them in their own games for the rest of the morning and watched the dancing that they prepared for us.  We were all in awe of the hip moving, booty shaking movements and we all came to the conclusion that Shakira has nothing on these 10 year olds.

"Right to Play" is just getting involved with this particular school and our visit was a great icebreaker for the program.

It would seem obvious that a drive on the way back to the airstrip would be a highlight of the trip.  After all, we saw thousands of zebras, gazelles, ostrich and one hyena as we drove through the harsh but beautiful landscape.

And for most trips to Africa this would be the highlight of a vacation but as we get close to the end of our trip…well, it is not even close.

The people I have met, the culture we have immersed ourselves in and the spirit of the children dwarfs any kind of safari.

The human being is such a fascinating creature, especially because we all can live in such different environments yet still have so much in common.  We all want to love and be loved.  We all can feel warmth from a smile and a wave. And we all want the best for our children. And whether you make a million dollars or $164 (the average in the Serengeti for one year), if you live on one side of the ocean or the other, our emotions and needs are so amazingly similar.

I have found here in Africa is that whether it is a smile, song or dance, the person making $164 seems to have a much greater understanding of the value of the human element. 

The sad part of the day was saying goodbye to our amazing hosts.  The international volunteers, along with the amazing local coaches, made our trip truly unforgettable. It is because of people like them that I hope we can raise money to help them do more great work in this area.

[ Day 1 | Day 2 | Day 3 | Day 4 | Day 5 | Day 6 | Day 7Photo Gallery ]

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