MacArthur High School head basketball coach John Mbuyi may be a long way from his home country, but this hasn’t hindered his involvement. Growing up, Mbuyi, a native of the Congo, has lived in Paris, Canada and Texas, but his connection to the Congo remained.
“Being a Congolese immigrant, my parents instilled a lot of the culture in me,” says Mbuyi. “They made sure that I remembered it was my home.”
When he was a young adult, Mbuyi took a trip to the Congo and described it as life changing. It was then that he decided to do something to help those back home using opportunities he was afforded.
Mbuyi comes from a long line of educators, beginning with his maternal grandfather, who educated people in the Congo during a time when education was only offered to the elite, and his father was one of the first black college professors in Belgium. His love of basketball was inherited from his mother who played in her youth. Entering his 10th year of teaching and coaching basketball in the states, Mbuyi has expanded the reach of his passion to his home country.
In 2014, Mbuyi founded his organization, DR Congo Basketball, which is dedicated to the development of Congolese basketball and teaching students life lessons and academia. Of the approximately 90 million people in the Congo, half are under the age of 20. Mbuyi is using the popularity of the sport of basketball to keep youth off the streets and involved.
“Some of our athletes are former child soldiers or gang members, and we’re providing them an opportunity and guidance,” says Mbuyi.
Since he’s based in the states, Mbuyi partners with local coaches in the Congo to provide resources for DR Congo Basketball. Three times a week, participants – male and female – attend workouts, which is also accompanied by a meal and water. Coaches and community leaders not only lend funds to support but also their facilities for workouts and camps.
“As students advance, we work with coaches in Europe and Asia to help them earn scholarship opportunities outside of the Congo,” he adds.
So far, they’ve been able to help hundreds of young athletes.
For those looking to learn more about DR Congo Basketball or ways to help, visit DRCongoBasketball.org.