Off-season adventure

JONATHAN HUNTINGTON -- Edmonton Sun

, Last Updated: 11:45 AM ET

So, did you travel anywhere interesting during the off-season?

Anybody who asks that question of Patrick Kabongo during Eskimo training camp is going to get an interesting answer.

After winning the Grey Cup last November, Kabongo travelled to Sri Lanka to help rebuild the country from the devastating tsunami.

"I went to different camp sites for the tsunami relief and I did simple stuff, like clean wounds," he said.

"And I did a sports camp. A lot of people wanted to work out down there, but didn't know what to do. I put on a two-day clinic about lifting, conditioning and simple things you can do on the beach when there are no dumbbells or any (weights)."

It was a three-week volunteer mission to the battered island country on the other side of the world. Kabongo believes he returned to Edmonton a better person.

"I think it is really important to go to different countries to see how they think," he said.

"You do help people (in Sri Lanka), but you come back a better human being - better informed about what is going on in this world."

But there are some sad memories still floating around five months later.

"It was hard to see some of the disaster that the tsunami left behind," he explained.

"We have infrastructure here - and God forbid something bad happens in Edmonton - we could rebuild in one year and probably make a movie out of it. There, a year later, there is still a lot of work to do.

"I was driving in the south of the country and they have beautiful beaches. But you see some of the houses on the beach and they are made out of nothing, really. A lot of them were made out of cardboard and trees."

But he can still chuckle about the impression his hulking six-foot-six inch, 340-pound frame left on people.

"Every time I was walking down the street people were turning around and were trying to touch me - thinking like: Is it really real? Do we have King Kong in the house?" he said.

'YOU COME BACK A BETTER HUMAN BEING - BETTER INFORMED ABOUT WHAT IS GOING ON IN THIS WORLD.'

- Patrick Kabongo, on volunteering abroad


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