Kentucky Football players Calvin Taylor Jr., Boogie Watson and Landon Young discussing their week-long service trip to Ethiopia.

Landon Young, Jamar Watson and Calvin Taylor 

Transcript from UK Athletics 

#67, Landon Young, OT
Opening Statement …
“I just want to say how excited I was to be on this trip. I want to thank Jason [Schlafer], Coach Stoops,
and Mitch [Barnhart] just for being able to throw all of this together and for us to have the opportunity
to be able to go and just give back a little bit to the people of Ethiopia. I had a really, really good time
over there and I’m sure these guys will concur. It was a long ride over there, but we got to do a lot of
things throughout the week. For example, my biggest impact thing that I got to go through was, we did a
feeding program in Tonto Mountain, Ethiopia, where we hiked up what felt like roughly five miles, but it
was probably closer to a mile and a half, two miles, something like that. We got to go up there and walk
with some locals and feed roughly 300 kids or so in a feeding program there where they got to eat some
rice and bread. That was just amazing seeing all those kids and just how well behaved they were, how
disciplined they were, how selfless they were. We went up there and fed them all and ended up with
getting to where there were three left at the end that didn’t get food and we gave them some snacks to
make sure they got food as well. The process of being able to give an actual hungry kid food was just
something that will never leave my mind. Just seeing their face light up, seeing how grateful they were
just to get a meal. You saw at the beginning when we fed them that there were a couple of kids that
would even pour all of their food onto one plate and share from the same plate because of the different
serving sizes that they had. Just to see kids that literally have nothing, that this may be one of their only
meals for the week, and most definitely one of their only hot meals for the week, just be so selfless to
pour all their food and eat together as a community, that was amazing. Seeing them help out the person
next to them and feed the person next to them, give a little bit of food off their plate, that was amazing
too. Just to see they don’t have anything, and they’re willing to sacrifice everything for their friends and
their family and people up on that hill. Another thing going up onto Tonto [Mountain], we got to see a
lot of people that worked off the mountain. The kids that we were actually walking up the hill with, they
live on the top of the hill and walk down the hill every single day for school. While me Calvin [Taylor],
and Boogie [Watson] were over here, and Jason, sweating really bad, all the way through our shirts just
winded and breathing hard, these little kids were just walking up next to us with not a bead of sweat of
their forehead. It was absolutely insane. I said ‘Man, I am really out of shape,’ after I saw that. The fact
that they do that every single day just for the opportunity to go to school really humbled me a lot. We
saw women that would create these bundles of sticks that they would carry on their back all the way
down the hill every single day. They said it would take six hours to make the bundle of sticks and they
could be upward of 300 pounds. They could make these bundles, put them on their back, walk all the
way down the hill, sell them and walk all the way back up the hill for the night to make little to no
money all week. That was amazing. Calvin actually tried to pick one up and couldn’t do it, so that speaks
a lot to these 5-foot-nothing women who had these 12-foot-wide bundles of wood on their back
carrying them back and selling them on the hill.
What I took away from that trip and just being able to go up on that mountain and doing that feeding
program, is just how good we have it over here. Just the luxury of being able to get up in the morning
and get into our air conditioned-car. There’s no air conditioning over there anywhere. Just being able to
be able to drive to school and that we’re getting to play at the University of Kentucky for free, on
scholarship. That we’re able to have a hot meal whenever we want it and being able to eat as much as
we want. It just really humbles you that we have it so good and these kids are still so selfless that they will share maybe their only meal of the week with somebody else. But again, I’d like to thank Jason, Mr.
Barnhart and Stoops for putting this together and giving us this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to do
something I never would’ve been able to go on if it wasn’t for UK football to let me do it.”
On what impact they left on the children …
“This is something that those kids are going to remember forever. We sort of joked with Jason [Schlafer]
that it’s kind of like a fish story, it’s going to keep on getting bigger and better for future generations.
Just seeing the smiles on their faces and just giving them an experience that they may never have again.
Some of these kids, no matter what, it’s going to be hard for them to break the cycle. Some of these kids
are going to live in Korah for the rest of their life. Who knows, they may have an injury and be forced
into to Korah but they can always look back and say we had those big guys come over and we got to go
to a movie with them. We got to go eat dinner with them and we got a coke and a popcorn. That’s
impactful for us because it’s sort of like we’re leaving a mark and planting a seed for those kids. We’re
not trying to take all the credit for it because Ordinary Hero does a lot, and a lot of the other groups do a
lot as well, but if we can plant a seed to break that cycle for at least one kid, I feel like we’ve done good
work and we’ve helped out a lot. It’s just so rare to see somebody break out over there and do
something good. We met a guy named Tesfaye that ran sort of the Korah area. When he was young, he
lived in Korah and being able to get sponsored allowed him to get two degrees, including one in
computer engineering. Instead of going out and working a real job, he decided to give up everything to
help his village and help Korah. That was powerful considering you have guys who come to this
university and it’s not even a thought to when you get your degree to go and get a job in your field.
Imagine someone going and getting a doctorate degree and just abandoning everything to go help his
hometown. That’s what Tesfaye did. That’s really powerful just considering how much love and how
much care he has for that whole area. He’s willing to give up everything just to help one person break
the cycle.”
On talking to the kids about American Football …
“Usually when we said football, they thought we played soccer, and so we pulled out a little football and
sort of did a little demonstration of what we do. It was hard to do with only three people, but we gave
them a pretty good rough idea. I threw the ball to Boogie and Calvin tackled him. I asked if they had ever
watched American football and a bunch of them said yes but when we pulled out that actual football,
they all had wide eyes, like what is that? But no, I don’t think many knew about what American football
was.”
On riding camels …
“There are not 300-pounders in Ethiopia. That camel had never seen what was coming at it. The worse
thing was, the camel went and had lunch while we had lunch and it still wasn’t done when I had to ride
it after lunch, so it was hurting. It was very sore. You can ask [Boogie and Calvin], it tried to get up with
me a couple of times before it finally did it. It was growling.”
On absorbing the fact that their home is a landfill …
“It’s crazy because you see and hear people all around us every day that complain that their house isn’t
big enough or their car isn’t nice enough, and these people…you can’t even own land over there. It’s
pretty much a long-term lease, so to see people live in a trash dump…we met one woman that still has
to pay $40 a month for her section of land in the trash dump. To see that they have to pay for that, and
they’re literally living around trash with mosquitos, with flies absolutely everywhere, and I’m sure you
get used to the stench, but the smell was just something that you’ve never experienced. It’s crazy to
think that they still have shelter, but that people have such little improvements in their home life, and they literally have to dig through trash or find another tarp in the trash just to make sure rain doesn’t
leak on them while they sleep. It’s just amazing to know that there are people that even though the live
in that situation still have that amount of love and care that they do. Everywhere is just smiles, it’s love,
it’s holding hands and it’s hugs. That’s what really, really amazed me about that.”
On what they can take back from the trip …
“Something I talked about in one of our team huddles late one of those nights is a really powerful thing
that I took away from the trip and that’s even though your living conditions aren’t great, or if you get
three meals a day or you get one meal every week, nobody is better than anyone else. We’re all equal
and they treated everybody just as equal, no matter if they lived in Korah or if they lived on the
countryside. They look at everybody as family, they treat everyone accordingly, and if you need help,
they’re there to help you out. If you just need a hug, they’re there to hug you. It just really showed me
that there’s no difference and there’s no difference for people to treat anybody as their lesser because
they put their pants on one leg at a time just like you do every single day. They eat just like you do every
single day. They work just like you every single day. So, there’s no sense in treating them any different.”
On how the people remained joyous despite their living conditions …
“I think a lot of it for them was their faith. It was a very prominent thing over there. They had Orthodox
Christians and they had Muslims. They all believed that was their plan by God and that there were
always better days in the waiting if they believed. That resonated with me because I’m very strong
about my faith and to see a whole country that was so prominent in their faith that they could believe
that everything is happening for a reason and always have belief that it’s going to get better. The kid
that Calvin had, he was an amazing little boy. I literally swear to this that you could have probably
slapped that kid across the face and he still would have smiled at you. He always had joy on his face and
was always grateful for every little thing whether it be because he got drink a coke or just got some
popcorn. No matter what it was, he was grateful for it, even the candy. They love candy.”
On picking the kids up and tattoos …
“On Tonto Mountain, Calvin and Boogie made the mistake with all of these kids getting around us and
picking them up into the air. Every single 315 kids that were there then wanted to be picked up and
swung around, and if one got it once, the other wanted to do it twice. That was really cool just to see
that something like that could make them that happy, so we just had to start being like ‘we can’t pick
y’all up anymore.’
They loved their tattoos and there was a girl that had a marker there and she completely drew her arm
up and tried to match their tattoos. That was really, really funny to see and really cool that they just
looked up to us like idols even though we’re just normal guys there just to try and make a difference.”

#31, Jamar “Boogie” Watson, OLB
Opening Statement …
“First, I just want to thank Jason [Schlafer], Coach Stoops, and Mitch [Barnhart] for the experience. It
was my first time out of the country so just that experience alone is something that I will remember
forever. The most impactful thing for me on the trip was going to an area called Korah. It is surrounding
a trash dump in Ethiopia. Basically, everyone in that area lives off of the trash dump. The food, their
houses, everything they get comes from the trash dump mainly. They said when the airport drops off
their trash that’s like a five-star meal for them because the airport has the best food. Seeing those kids and their families have to live off of that, seeing the trash dump and seeing that that’s where they get
their main source of food is kind of crazy to me. Growing up, I’ve complained to my parents that I don’t
want McDonalds, I want this. Stuff like that. Seeing them have to do that makes it very hard to complain
about a meal or anything ever again. Just the experience as a whole was very eye opening. They live
completely different out there, but at the same time, everyone has a smile on their face. They don’t
have much to be happy about from our eyes, but every person we came across was excited to be there,
excited to see us. They walked around with a smile on their face every day. Just being there makes me
very grateful to be in the situation I’m in. Every day I think of how grateful I am and how blessed I am to
be in the place that I’m in.”
On what is was like to leave the country …
“I saw some stuff that I expected to see, but for the most part it was new to me. There were all types of
animals. It was crazy. The flight alone, I’d never been on a flight that long. Just the whole experience of
going out of the country was great. I really enjoyed it.”
On riding camels …
“[The camel] was foaming at the mouth. Very different [from riding a horse.]”
On how they will re-focus on football …
“I think it’ll be easy becaue seeing that makes you work that much harder. I can’t imagine giving one of
them the opportunity that we have to go work out every day and have the opportunity to go to school
and get a degree for free. I’m just trying to put myself in their shoes. The opportunity that we’re blessed
with just drives me that much harder to go work out and go try and be great.”

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