Prior to the start of this season, I went to Africa with my wife for the first time. It was an awesome trip with Arise Africa, and it helped lead me to an important decision as it relates to baseball -- for every strikeout I record, I am going to donate $100 to build a house in Zambia.

My wife, Ellen, had been to Africa five times before we went together. After she took her first trip there, she became drawn to the people and their cause. She told me a lot about her trips, and it's always been her dream to build an orphanage there.

A lot of people hear about the poverty and the things going on over there, but until you actually visit, I don't think you can begin to grasp the struggles they endure on a daily basis. It just makes you want to help in any way you can. It is a life-changing experience.

One of the country's big issues is malnourishment. It is a daily struggle to feed everyone. It is devastating to witness first-hand a whole generation wiped out by disease. It seemed to me that kids were raising kids, or grandparents raising kids. There are just so many kids that need help and need food and love. It's tough to see the poverty, really. It changes you.

Our plan now is to help by building more than an orphanage and, instead, making a home for those kids to live in. There are a lot of great kids there, and I liked spending time with them. The goal is to raise $70,000 to build a house in Zambia, and we're off to a good start.

I'm hoping that we will meet our goal. I want to be able to see the house built when I go there after the season. If not this year, then next year for sure.

Dodgers left-hander Clayton Kershaw, the club's Opening Day starter this year just weeks after turning 23, leads his club in nearly every pitching category including wins (6) and strikeouts (106). The Dallas-born Kershaw had 212 strikeouts in 204 1/3 innings last season, which ranked fifth in the National League overall and first among southpaws.