Africa We Want

DIASPORA: River’s inspiring journey from Rwandan orphan to football star

ST. LOUIS — On the surface, it looks like any other journey for a stand-out football player. Star on the high school gridiron, then move up to division one. But River Lakey’s path to Lindenwood University’s football team is anything but ordinary. By Kevin Ryans

“I see how much of a blessing it is to be here,” said River Lakey. River was born in Kigali, Rwanda in 2004.

“River was found in a ditch in a rainstorm or after a rainstorm late at night, 11 p.m. His umbilical cord scab was still in place and the lady who found him, brought him in. She didn’t have much in her home,” said father Jimmy Lakey. “He ended up in an orphanage. They were well taken care of, for the most part, but it was just poor.”

Jimmy adopted River in 2008 and moved him to Colorado. He didn’t want to turn his back on River’s friends from the orphanage in Rwanda. The family started a foundation called River’s Promise. The goal was to make a difference in River’s hometown.

“We totally closed out that orphanage. We gave all the kids families and school support and ever since then we’ve been doing God’s work and taking care of everybody,” said River Lakey.

“Several years later, I still go back to Rwanda and see those kids. Some of them are married now. Some of them, who were older than River, have kids now. But we took care of them,” said Jimmy Lakey.

River’s quest to do good in his home country is only just beginning.

“We built a ‘K-12 over there in Rwanda. After doing that, I want to build a college over there and bring the gift of education at a higher level,” said River Lakey.

“River has become quite and upstanding citizen. He is always kind, gentle, humble and when we go back to Africa and realize that his heart is still about helping the people there,” said Jimmy Lakey.

“When I think about it, I think that God chose me, and he put me here for a good purpose: To change the world just like my dad. I just want to follow in my dad’s footsteps, do what I can even better, and just make everyone proud,” said River Lakey.

Author: MANZI
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