Bertille, who was born in Cameroon and raised in France, is earning her master's degree in international relations at the University of Central Oklahoma. She noted her studies are a natural progression for her passion for international nonprofit work that started with an organization her mother runs.
“It just made sense that we use the basketball platform to do something positive for where he's (Thabo's) from,” she said. “We didn't want to do just a basketball camp. We really wanted to do an after-school program that is more beneficial in the future and in the lives of the children.”
Thabo said he has a lot of family still in Mamelodi and has wanted to do something to help since he first visited at age 17.
“That opportunity came when we started working with IMBEWU,” he said.
On a recent weekday afternoon, they welcomed home their two young preschool-age daughters from school and smiled as they explain their latest art project, a painting of the recent dreary weather. The couple switched easily between French and English as they communicated and coordinated schedules.
They have enjoyed sharing their international work with Oklahomans.
“It's been nothing but a great experience sharing those roots for me with people from Oklahoma, and the response has been just great,” Thabo said.
Bertille said she had never heard of Oklahoma before her husband was traded to the OKC Thunder, but she has been thrilled with the community's support for their cause — from the generous sponsors who are helping put together the event to the people who donated to it the last time.
“I was very surprised how generous everybody was and how they connected to the cause even though it's so far,” she said.