Los Angeles, July 26, 2021 – The philanthropic work of NBA Global Ambassador Dikembe Mutombo is the inspiration for Los Angeles-based singer-songwriter Charlie Marie Lyons’ new single “Change”, and she will donate all streaming revenue from the single to support the Dikembe Mutombo Foundation’s work to build a new school in his home country, the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC).
“Not only did I literally look up to Dikembe Mutombo, but I also saw his heart and what he wants to achieve in this world,” said Lyons, whose compositions and performances share unfiltered stories of pain and hope and intimacy. “He inspired me to use my voice as a tool for change.”
The new single was released today and is available on Apple Music, Spotify, iHeart Radio and other streaming platforms.
“This is not a story about tragedy, in fact, this is a story about overcoming. It’s a story about hope, and Dikembe Mutombo really inspires the people around him to have hope with a presence that encourages selflessness, self-reflection and self-improvement,” added Lyons.
Located in a rural area outside the Mbuji-Mayi district, the ancestral home of the former NBA superstar’s parents, the modern pre-K through 6 school broke ground in July 2020 and is scheduled to open this October. In its first phase, the school will welcome 440 girls and boys to its classrooms.
Named after Dikembe’s late father, a teacher and school principal, the future Samuel Mutombo Institute of Science & Entrepreneurship will serve a region where 240,000 children have no access to modern education. The DRC spends 1.5 percent of its gross domestic product on education, 166th in the world. By comparison, the United States spends 5 percent. France spends 5.5 percent.
As part of the planned long-term relationship between Lyons and the foundation, the school will include a “Change” classroom devoted to music and art. Lyons will help build the classroom’s curriculum, and the room will include an artists’ wall of signatures to commemorate the student-artists who pass through the program.
“This project will build a modern high school in the Congo emphasizing science, technology, engineering, mathematics and the arts,” said Mutombo, who after 18 seasons in the NBA became the league’s first global ambassador. He has devoted his post-basketball career to improving primary health care, disease prevention and education in his native land.
“I don’t see myself as a basketball player; I see myself as a humanitarian – someone who wants to see the world get better. I want to create the great leaders of tomorrow, but I cannot do it by myself,” he added.
The school is not Mutombo’s first humanitarian project in his homeland. After its launch in 1997, the foundation’s first initiative, along with several international and local partners, was leading a 1999 campaign to stop the spread of polio. In three days 8.2 million children were vaccinated resulting in a near polio free DRC for four years.
Next, the foundation spearheaded construction of the Biamba Marie Mutombo hospital in the capital city of Kinshasa. Named after Dikembe’s mother, the 170-bed facility opened in 2007 as the first new hospital of Its kind constructed in the DRC in 45 years and, to date, has treated almost 600,000 people.
In addition, the hospital collaborated with the U.S.-based Starkey Hearing Foundation to provide almost 10,000 hearing-impaired people with new hearing aids at no cost.
To donate, go to the Dikembe Mutombo Foundation web site at dmf.org.
Computer animation of the completed school is available on YouTube.
“Change” is available on Apple Music, Spotify, iHeart Radio or wherever you stream music.
For more on the artist, visit charliemarielyons.com.
The Dikembe Mutombo Foundation is dedicated to improving the health, education and quality of life for the people of the Democratic Republic of the Congo. The Foundation strives to accomplish this goal through an emphasis on primary health care and disease prevention, the promotion of health policy, health research and increased access to health care education for the people of the Congo.
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