Joseph Oyebog returned to Cameroon over the weekend with new balls, racquets, clothes and all sorts of paraphernalia for the tennis academy that he runs in his native country.
He also returned with blueprints to build a new structure on land that Oyebog Tennis Academy purchased. A donation from Westport residents Sunny Leigh and Guy Sherman helped Oyebog's group purchase nearly six acres to build a tennis facility that will include 16 courts. The players had been playing on makeshift surfaces since Oyebog, who teaches primarily in Westport and Fairfield during the summer, began the academy 12 years ago.
"Sunny and Guy have a very genuine heart. Even though they are very successful people, they have treated every child l brought over to their house from Africa with a lot of respect and love,'' Oyebog said before leaving for Cameroon.
Leigh and Sherman worked with Oyebog this year after their former instructor moved to Florida. They were touched by Oyebog's passion and by his commitment to the children of Cameroon. "His selflessness stands out,'' Leigh said. "He doesn't solicit. He never once asked for money. He's just so humble about it."
Leigh said supporting a cause where she and her husband can see a direct benefit was also important. "You know your money is going to help people,'' she said. "We've seen the children that Joseph helps. When you see tangible results, it means so much more. We knew we could affect change very fast."
Oyebog said Majesty Chief Ruben Essome of Sodiko Village in Douala played a large part in the land purchase. Leigh and Sherman, who are members of the Oyebog Academy board, are impressed by the children who attend Oyebog's academy.
"When you meet one here, they are so well-grounded,'' Sherman said. "Then you meet three or four or five, and they're all the same. They are just really terrific kids."
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