RAPAPORT… Earlier this month, actress and model Kim Kardashian, professional football player Reggie Bush and former football star Ray Crockett traveled to South Africa and Botswana on behalf of Russell Simmons’ Diamond Empowerment Fund™ (D.E.F.). The trip was orchestrated to raise awareness of D.E.F. as well as to educate the celebrities about the group’s empowering mission. Simmons founded D.E.F. in December 2007 to raise funds to support education initiatives that help economically disadvantaged people in African nations where diamonds are a natural resource.
Simmons said that Kardashian and Bush have so much influence on young people that “[w]hen they say that kids in diamond producing countries in Africa deserve a shot at their dreams, people start to think a little bit differently about what matters. I am so proud of them, Reggie’s mom, Denise, as well as Kim’s sister, Khloe Kardashian, and retired football legend Ray Crockett, who joined Kim and Reggie on this trip and part of this beautiful effort,” Simmons said following the group’s visit.
The celebrities and their family members visited the CIDA City Campus, which is supported by D.E.F. They also visited the Maharishi Institute and met with students from the African Leadership Academy. They saw firsthand how these D.E.F.-sponsored programs give children the chance to further their education and gain employment once finished with their schooling.
While in Johannesburg, the group visited the Cotlands, an orphanage for HIV-positive infants, where, the D.E.F. statement said, they shared special moments with each of the children. The group also visited the African Children’s Feeding Scheme (ACFS), which provides two daily meals to 18,000 AIDS orphans, school dropouts and child-headed families daily. “Initiatives like these are supported by companies like De Beers South Africa as part of their philanthropic initiatives,” according to the D.E.F. statement.
It was Kim Kardashian’s first trip to Africa. “I am excited to have seen how diamonds help empower the people of Botswana and South Africa, especially the wonderful students deserving of an education,” she said. Kardashian, 29, became a D.E.F. Africa’s Angels Ambassador following the trip.
Bush traveled to the continent with high expectations, all of which were met, he said. “The people, the culture and the landscape were all so enriching to me personally. I hope I can continue to give back to the people I met and hopefully many more. This trip will impact my daily life and the people I interact with from this day forward.” Bush, 24, became a founding member of D.E.F.’s Athletes for Africa program.
Crockett said he was personally moved by each place on the itinerary. “I traveled to South Africa with an open mind and heart and returned with a new outlook on life. Despite their problems, the African children in the facilities we visited there were so thankful and hopeful for a new and better day. I now realize how blessed we all are.”