UW Health Sports Medicine 

Trotter gives back through Matanya's Hope

ON WISCONSIN <b>Alana Trotter shows off her African beads.</b>
Alana Trotter shows off her African beads.

Feb. 23, 2010

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MADISON, Wis. - During the summer of 2008, Alana Trotter, a junior on the Wisconsin women's basketball team, spent 10 days on a mission trip to Kenya with a non-profit organization called Matanya's Hope. The organization is dedicated to educating children in the poverty-stricken country.

Trotter made the mission in honor of her brother Aleksas, who passed away in April of 2008. Trotter stayed with three Masai Mara families on her visit, learning about the culture, interacting with children sponsored by Matanya's Hope and dancing a lot. One of the last days of her trip was dedicated to her brother.

Trotter continues to stay involved with Matanya's Hope and she also got her teammates involved as the Badgers sponsor an underprivileged child in Africa.

“The man who has no imagination has no wings.” Muhammad Ali

I was suddenly thrust into a new and shocking experience in August 2008 when I traveled to Kenya, Africa, to join the charitable organization Matanya’s Hope. That summer’s mission trip was dedicated to my brother Aleksas, who passed away earlier that year. My trip was unexpected. His death was unexpected. Little did I know that this experience would change my life forever.

Throughout my life, I have dealt with frustrations and disappointments. I have been in situations where I either rise or fall—every day is a battle. Many times I’ve asked, ‘Why me? Why is this happening to me?’ I’m sure that’s a common experience we as Americans feel. But I didn’t realize what that meant until I walked off the plane in Nairobi, Kenya, and was thrust into a new world. Yes, it was different, interesting, unusual and I felt like a stranger—an American in Kenya. The traditional dances and culture were fascinating but my excitement was met with disbelief.

I traveled to many villages where I saw one-room thatched huts with mud floors; small children walking miles carrying heavy water jugs on their shoulders for everyday chores, which I could easily do within seconds in my kitchen. The dry-crusted soil barren from the drought was something I had never seen before; I couldn’t believe that the earth could be so dry. I had never seen such starving animals with their bones sticking out as if they were in a museum. Most of the children were barefoot and their clothes were so ragged that they were falling apart. And I saw the hunger in their eyes. It broke my heart to see such suffering and arduous conditions until I saw their smiles.

Many children told me their dreams of becoming a doctor, lawyer or teacher. It was as if they truly believed that the best was yet to come, believing that there truly is a light at the end of the dark tunnel. How could they have hope when no one knows them and when we ignore them in America? They are the silent poor. Until then, I never thought of them when I bought a latté. I didn’t think about them while standing at the checkout line with a full shopping cart, many items of which I probably didn’t need. I didn’t remember them when I looked at my full closet and complained that I needed something new. I do now.

I realized that if I could give up one pizza a week for a year I could sponsor one child ($75/month) putting them one step closer to achieving their dreams. That child would receive an education, books, uniforms and for the first time in their life, two meals a day. These were the children who fought not to give up their dream while I presumed that all my dreams would come true.

Here are some unforgettable children I met:

  • Robert, an orphan, who walked several miles pleading to get help so he could go to school to become a teacher;
  • John so strongly aspired to be a doctor that his determination brought him tears;
  • Faith, a 13-year-old girl who dreamed of becoming a lawyer but faced an arranged marriage to a 50-year-old man if she wasn’t sponsored;
  • Helen, a 14-year-old girl who wanted to become a surgeon to help the poor;
  • Kent, a young boy who almost lost his life due to starvation strives to become a doctor to help the sick.

I can never look at a frozen pizza, my warm winter coat or even my shoes without seeing a child who needs my help. Not just in Kenya but worldwide. I often ask myself, ‘Do I really need this or do I just want this?’

We talk about the poor people of Haiti and the earthquake and I’m sure the devastation is unimaginable. But I have first-hand knowledge and experience that that devastation occurs in so many countries each and every day. I am so blessed being an American, a scholarship athlete at UW-Madison and having a family that cares and provides for me.

But I ask you, can you help these children? Any donation would be greatly appreciated and would go a long way. Every time I step on the court, I remember the children who dreamed just like me with their bright eyes, heartwarming smiles and never-ending hope. Every time I want to give up, I think of my dear brother, who is smiling down on me from above, reminding me to focus on the good in life and live life to the fullest for tomorrow is never guaranteed. And I have realized how blessed I am—we all are. And sometimes, we need to remember that.

God Bless,

Alana Trotter #15 aka “a trot”

“The man who has no imagination has no wings.” Muhammad Ali

Donate to Matanya's Hope

A check can be mailed to:
Matanya's Hope
PO Box 562
Homewood, IL 60430

Here’s how your donation can help the children:
$900 will sponsor one child for a full year of education
$350 will purchase supplies needed for the first year of primary boarding school
$350 will purchase supplies needed for the first year of high school boarding school
$100 can buy a set of much needed text books for one high school student
$75 can buy a high school uniform for one child
$75 can sponsor one month of a child's boarding school
$55 can provide one school meal a day per child for a year
$30 can buy a primary school uniform for one child
$25 can buy one mattress or a blanket and pillow for a child
$20 can buy a book bag and some basic school supplies for one elementary school child
$15 can buy a pair of SPORT shoes for one child
$40 can buy a pair of school shoes for one child
$10 can buy some basic hygiene needs for one student (toilet paper, toothbrush/tooth paste, body and laundry soap, skin oil and shoe polish
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