Photo by Jeff Reinking, Louisville Athletics

Gorgui Dieng, a center on the Minnesota Timberwolves and former Louisville Cardinal, has partnered with Minneapolis non-profit MATTER on a number of projects in his native Senegal. 

In March, Dieng and MATTER hosted the second annual Gorgui Dieng Foundation event that raised more than $500,000 for health care and agriculture projects in Senegal, according to a news release from the Timberwolves.

“I always had it in my mind that one day, when I got the chance, I would help my country,” Dieng said. 

Dieng met Quenton Marty, president of MATTER, after a shootaround practice in 2015. MATTER has worked with Dieng’s foundation since, delivering medical equipment and supplies to a hospital in Kebemer, Senegal, opening a new dialysis facility, implementing a demonstration farm utilizing ecologically sustainable practices to increase yields and provide food, and more. 

“We recognized there are a lot of barriers around the world that people have to living a healthy life. What we have in Minnesota to offer is an excellent health care community, an excellent food space and agriculture. These are the three areas Gorgui wanted to focus on,” Marty said. 

Marty said there were children laying on the floor at the hospital in Kebemer because there was no furniture: “The hospital system infrastructure is dilapidated. Simple things like beds is a game changer.”  

“People don’t have access to good equipment. It doesn’t matter how good of a doctor you are, if you don’t have good equipment, they cannot make it happen,” Dieng said. “If you’re not healthy, you can’t go to school, you can’t go to work, you can’t play basketball.” 

It is estimated that the work Dieng has done with MATTER has impacted about 360,000 lives. 

“This was Gorgui’s idea. He had the vision. He’s very hands on,” Marty said. “He recognized that if he made it to this point, he was going to give back.”

Dieng entered the NBA draft in 2013, and earned his degree from UofL in 2015. 

Check out the video the Timberwolves put together about his work in Senegal:

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Alicia Kelso
Alicia Kelso is editor of UofLNews and UofL Today. She joined UofL in 2015 as communications director of the Brandeis School of Law. Prior, she was the editorial director of foodservice media for Networld Media Group, where her work was featured in publications around the world, including NPR, Bloomberg, The Seattle Times, Good Morning America and Franchise Asia Magazine. She continues to serve as a contributor for many publications, including QSRweb.com, FastCasual.com and Innovation Leader.