Boyd, Turnbull share 'inspiring' Uganda trip

Tigers pitchers put in work with anti-sex trafficking organization

December 23rd, 2019

and have their offseason throwing programs to get ready for Spring Training. Throwing food to feed wildlife in Uganda wasn’t part of the scheduled program for either of them.

And yet, as their guards and drivers spotted baboons along the roadside on their way to Kingdom Home, they found a chance to loosen up their arms.

“They sit by the highway and kind of watch people go by and wait for food,” Boyd said. “So our guides were like, ‘Let's get some bananas and go see them.’ I tossed a few and they caught a few.”

Said Turnbull: “Some of them would catch them. Some of them were afraid, so they would wait for the bananas to hit the ground and pick it up.”

It was a fun moment for two Tigers pitchers who are more accustomed to hitting the corners of a strike zone with thousands of fans watching. Yet for Turnbull, it was nothing compared to look of joy on kids’ faces when they finally arrived at their destination.

Turnbull had heard enough about Kingdom Home from Boyd at fundraisers and on the road that he wanted to join the traveling party for the second annual offseason trek in November. He had no idea what to expect. Once he saw the project, and what an impact one player could make in preventing human trafficking, he was overwhelmed.

“Meeting the kids for the first time, that was incredible,” Turnbull said. “Every house that we went to, meeting the kids, meeting the people who ran the homes, that was incredible. I'll never forget those kids' faces.

“I'm glad I had a little nudge to go. Thank God I went, because it changed me and my heart, and maybe it can help others, too.”

It’s the same sentiment that drew Boyd and his wife, Ashley, when they heard about one woman’s plight in aiding three dozen children she and her husband had rescued. The kids had escaped forced marriages, prostitution rings and other harrowing situations. But when the husband passed away, they needed help.

The Boyds -- especially Ashley, who had been to Uganda and worked with the nonprofit Remember Nhu -- felt it was their calling and stepped in. They didn’t just donate money, they started their own nonprofit to try to keep the house growing.

A year and a half later, now four homes strong, they’re beyond what they would’ve ever imagined at the start.

“Beyond my wildest dreams and Ashley's wildest dreams,” Boyd said. “We're just going to keep being faithful with it and see. It's already taken shape.”

What began as an effort to help 36 children has grown to 146 kids. They’ve bought land and raised enough money to build two homes. Their winter goal is to raise the funds to build two more, putting all the kids on the same plot of land rather than renting four houses.

The 12 1/2 acres include a well for drinking water and enough land for a hydroponic farm.

“That day, looking at the new land, is a day I'll never forget. It was really, really cool,” Boyd said. “It’s pretty surreal just standing on that land and praying over it with the houseparents and the countryside director. Wow, this has happened in one year.”

It happened in a year in which the Boyds welcomed the birth of their second child, and in which Matthew emerged as the ace of the Tigers' pitching staff. It was a feat of organization, especially on Ashley’s part, which made last month’s trip all the more important.

Unlike last year, when the Boyds both made the trip, Ashley stayed home with the kids. Matthew prepared to travel with a group of board members and pastors, as well as Turnbull.

“He had his events during the year and I was really impressed by what he's doing and it became a faith thing,” Turnbull said. “Hearing him talk about it is one time, but then seeing it and talking with the woman who runs it.”

Boyd’s advice to him was to pack light and bring an open mind.

“They don't need us right now,” said Boyd. “We're going over there to learn.”

What Turnbull learned most was the power that athletes have to make a difference when channeling their efforts.

“That's what was so inspiring to me, to see the impact he's had and being inspired to see what I could do one day,” said Turnbull. “Could I do the same thing? I would love to be able to do something similar to what Boyd is doing. I'm excited to see what's possible.”

Said Boyd: “Everyone wants to help in varying degrees, and everyone has their own skills and tools to help out. But I've had a lot of conversations with guys that are wanting to start a nonprofit. And yeah, if you have a heart for something, the first step is the toughest part.”