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Anquan Boldin still can’t come to terms with what he saw in Africa this past week.
Partnered with former teammate and fellow wide receiver Larry Fitzgerald, the Ravens’ wide receiver spent the past four days in Ethiopia with the international relief organization Oxfam to raise awareness about the severe drought and famine in the region.
Speaking on an Oxfam conference call, Boldin sounded blown away by what he saw and the people he met.
“They still have hope,” Boldin said of the people.
“They still seem content with what they have and what they’re doing. They definitely don’t seem to be down. I still can’t wrap my head around the situation they’re living in.”
On the first day, Boldin and Fitzgerald mostly did heavy labor. They took about a three-hour ride to a valley where the local people were building retaining walls to try to protect against erosion.
Some of the locals walked three hours just to get to the site, then worked the entire day carrying rocks. Boldin was right there next to them doing the heavy lifting.
“It isn’t easy work,” he said. “I can’t imagine working six days a week, eight hours a day building dams. They’re carrying rocks anywhere from five to 60 pounds. This is not just men. It’s also women.”
Boldin met a man who had eight children who was there building the wall for 90 cents a day. His children were working in shifts too – half in the day and half at night – so they could still also go to school. Boldin said the whole family survives on about $60 a year.
“The math just still doesn’t add up,” Boldin said. “I don’t think any person in the U.S. could understand that, how an entire family can survive off $60 a year.”
Boldin said one of the sights that stuck with him was seeing 5 and 6-year-old kids tending to the cattle while their parents were at work. Also, even though it had rained just twice in the past year in the region, Boldin and Fitzgerald were lucky enough to experience rain for themselves.
The third day, Boldin and Fitzgerald went to talk to women about their rights and to learn more about the Oxfam program. Farmers told him that their crops yielded twice as much through techniques taught to them by Oxfam.
Boldin also went to a livestock market and bought a cow for the village.
“It’s a way of improving life for them,” he said. “[But] the best thing is to get something to sustain them for a lifetime.”
While also working for causes in the states with the Anquan Boldin Foundation, Boldin now has a grown appreciation for working abroad and said he would put his name behind Oxfam.
“There is no doubt in my mind that if anybody in the U.S. came over here and saw the same things we saw, they wouldn’t hesitate to help out,” he said. “It’s not only people in the U.S. that have problems. People have problems everywhere. I don’t think you should limit where you help.”
Take a look at the photo gallery for more images from Boldin’s trip.