March 2022

15 Years Old and a New Mom – Kalunji

Kalunji came to our program when she was 5-months pregnant. She was living with her grandmother (jaja) in a terrible wooden shack in the slum. They didn’t have enough food, but her jaja insisted that Kalunji eat to nurture the baby.

Our team, with help from our donors at DonorSee, provided food, a mattress, bedding, a mosquito net, and a water filter for this small family. Kalunji began spending her days at the compound, even though she wasn’t enrolled in any of our programs. We fed her two meals a day and got her enrolled with Amani, an organization that helps teen moms with prenatal care and childbirth.

In January, Kalunji began learning reading, writing, basic math, and English in our new Literacy Program.

A month ago, Kalunji presented to our nurse at the Haven Clinic with severe malaria. She began an IV treatment and went into labor (about 3 weeks early) that evening.

Unfortunately, Amani was completely full! We also hadn’t purchased the required birthing kit yet. But our nurse, Sherry, called all around Kampala and finally found Kalunji space at the KCCA Hospital, where she gave birth to a healthy baby boy, Kareem.

Kalunji moved into the Ross House, our residential program for teen moms in crisis, from the hospital. Two weeks later, her jaja died.

Raheem is a month old now, and doing really well! Sherry gives him all his regular checkups, as well as Mama. Kalunji is now back in Lit class, and she’s even rejoined dancing in Teen Talk on Fridays.

Next term, Kalunji will join one of the vocational classes in Skills for Life.


Girls like Kalunji, forced to trade sex just to have food or sanitary pads, are forgotten, shunned, ignored. Illiterate, desperately impoverished, and with no living family to help, her chances of even surviving childbirth were low.

But now she is safe, healthy, cared for, and learning.

There are thousands like Kalunji in the Namuwongo slum, and we can’t help them all. But those we can bring into our program are given sustainable skills, counseling, mentoring, and the life skills needed to not just survive but thrive.

These are hard stories… But they are stories of HOPE. OPPORTUNITY. CHANGE. And they are possible because of you.

Webele nyo!


I’m going to Uganda (finally!)!


Thanks to our recent global unpleasantness, I’ve had three trips to Uganda cancelled or postponed since our last visit in January-February 2020. What’s remarkable is that we’ve gone from a tiny, claustrophobic 2-room office in the slum with no paid staff to a thriving, bustling compound on the edge of the slum serving 70+ people a day with 14 paid staff!

That’s pretty incredible, and thanks in large part to video meetings being so easy now days. I meet with Ronald, our Managing Director, at least twice a week, and we use Signal to communicate every day. It’s *almost* like being there.

Of course, it’s not actually like being there. My communication is limited to Ronald and a couple of others who work on our videos and photographs. I haven’t ever set foot in our compound. I haven’t personally met most of our staff. I haven’t held the babies living in the Ross and Suubi Houses. We haven’t sat around over a meal and brainstormed.

Those things are so important for CULTURE – that indefinable something that makes Ten Eighteen Uganda + Touch the Slum unique and special and the reason you are reading this newsletter and entrusting us with your hard earned dollars.

I’ll have more in the coming weeks on my schedule and the events we’re working on during my visit. I’ll be gone May 22 through June 9, but will have (mostly) internet to keep you all updated.

THANK YOU for supporting us, sharing us with friends and groups, and sending all the encouragement that you do. We can’t tell you how grateful we are!



PS. Of course we have tons of projects on DonorSee – if you Follow us there, you’ll get updates when we post new ones. To be honest, the situation in Ukraine has taken away a lot of fundraising momentum for those of us working elsewhere, so we’d really appreciate you checking out our projects to see if any speak to you. Webele nyo!


As often happens when we have a BRILLIANT IDEA™, we underestimated the need. I know… you’d think we’d learn! But when the need is so great, it can truly be hard to put a number on it.

When we opened our daycare last month, we expected a few kids for each session (morning and afternoon) of Skills for Life. Oh, let’s say 6-8. We, of course, made the daycare available for our staff and the moms who have graduated out of the residential program.

Some days, we have as many as 30 kids in daycare. Yep. THIRTY. And they all get 2 meals a day, which is awesome and we wouldn’t change a thing.

Except our budget. We definitely need to change our budget!

We have a project up on DonorSee to restock the food for our little ones in daycare. We need about $200 to fully fund it — CAN YOU HELP?

You can become a monthly donor using the button below. That really helps us know our base budget and things like regular food purchases.

As always, thank you for your support!




Photo Credit Bob Ditty Photography


Late last year, we posted our first big project on DonorSee – a computer lab for Skills for Life. This $10,000 project was highly ambitious for us, and to be honest, it has been slow going.

WHY do we feel strongly about introducing digital literacy to our community?

Many of Uganda’s government services have moved online, such as National ID registration.

  • Many good jobs require online applications, as well as basic computer skills.
  • Having knowledge of digital applications like Microsoft’s Office Suite vastly broadens the kinds of jobs open to our girls.
  • Digital literacy allows our girls to fully participate in civic life in their communities.

And NOW… thanks to two Roberts who each made a huge donation within 24 hours of each other…


For a whole year, including electricity, maintenance, and the teacher’s salary!

We are a small organization — small but mighty! For us, $10,000 is HUGE. And YOU made it happen!

We really can’t say THANK YOU enough! Webele nyo!



PS While we no longer have a big project up on DonorSee, we have plenty of small ones, from tailoring supplies to restocking the food for our daycare. 100% goes to the program — if you have any questions, just use the Contact screen and ask away!

Photo credit: Bob Ditty Photography


Ever since our first ever term of Tailoring, which ended in June 2021, we have been dreaming of an Advanced Tailoring class. Most of the girls in Tailoring go on to have a small business doing basic designs: school and work uniforms, traditional gomeza dresses, simple skirts, repairs. Some find good work in shops or with organizations like the ones who make Wonderbags in the Namuwongo slum.

But there are some, like Vivian and Jenifer who we’ve written about often, who really have a flair. Their designs are special, and only their skill level has kept them from great achievement.

Not any more!

About 2 1/2 weeks ago, our Advanced Tailoring class launched. Teacher Martha is a professional seamstress with a shop of her own, and she spent a great deal of time assessing the girls for both skills and dreams so she could design a curriculum to launch them into the next level.

Skills for Life currently offers 4 Basic skills and now one Advanced one. These courses are FREE to the teen girls and teen moms we serve. In addition to the actual coursework, they get free medical care at our on-site Haven Clinic, free child care at our on-site daycare, psycho-social counseling, mentoring, and peer groups. They also get 1-2 meals a day.

FREE. No strings attached.

Obviously, this isn’t free to Ten Eighteen! Your support of our projects on DonorSee, or with one time or recurring donations on DonorBox, are what make this possible. We grew 70% last year thanks to YOU.

We’ve got lots of great projects up on DonorSee right now, and you can always make a one time or recurring donation using DonorBox. The buttons are below – we’d love to have you join us!




If you’ve been with us awhile, you know that every month we do a One Fun Thing for our resident teen moms. This started way back in 2009, when my kids and I started going to Uganda and spending time in the slum, because it’s HARD. If it’s hard to visit, imagine how hard it is to live there!

So every trip, we do a One Fun Thing, and every month, our moms get treated to One Fun Thing – like the KFC Christmas party in December.

Since it was International Women’s Day last week, we had a feast to celebrate our girls. (Clearly the kids, like Imran, enjoyed it, too!)

We believe that everyone should have the chance at FUN. At laughter. At celebration. At dancing.

Is the One Fun Thing technically “essential”? We’d actually say yes! When you’re doing hard things, it’s always good to remember what you’re fighting for.

More One Fun Things. More dancing. More joy. More LIFE.

Maybe even more than ONE fun thing every month.



PS We’ve got a project on DonorSee to restock the food for the daycare. We are providing 2 meals a day to the children of our teen moms, staff, and teachers. Click on the button to help us with all that food!


We currently have 20 girls taking Basic Literacy. Some of them had a small bit of school, so they know the basics. Some were completely illiterate. English is “the common language” in Uganda, but many can’t speak it because they didn’t go to school. With 60 tribes and the slum melting-pot, it can be hard to communicate if you don’t know English.

After less than two months, the un-schooled girls know the alphabet and numbers, can read and write 3-letter words, and have done videos for us entirely in English! The other class, with girls who have had some schooling, are writing out the names of numbers and working with bigger words.

In short, they are flying through the course with amazing passion. They know what an opportunity free education is — it’s almost unheard of in Uganda! They know these are skills they will need once they’ve gone through a vocational skill course in Skills for Life and have jobs or small businesses. They are ON FIRE to learn!

Thank you so much for your support! Because of you, teen moms and teen girls in the slum are gaining invaluable skills for themselves and their families.




photo credit: Bob Ditty Photography

Last Friday, 15-year-old Kalunji gave birth to her son at KCCA Hospital. She was supposed to go through Amani which had been giving her free prenatal care, but she went into labor early and Amani was full.

Our nurse, Sherry, finally found her a spot in KCCA’s private ward, then stayed at the hospital all night. The baby was delivered at 2am, and Kalunji had only minor complications — a real risk with teens giving birth.

Kalunji and baby (no name yet!) are back at the Ross House and being taken care of by Mama Santa, Sherry, and all the other teen moms who are helping, advising, and loving on mama and baby.

This is why we do what we do. A 15-year-old giving birth in a filthy wooden hut is a recipe for disaster. But because Kalunji has been in our program for counseling and the Literacy class, she is being taken care of — for free. She will stay at the Ross House until she’s completed a Skills for Life course in the second term. She will move to the Ross House to transition to self-sufficiency. She will complete the Literacy Class, counseling, have a mentor group, and learn business skills.

And she will be able to sustainably care for herself and her child. Hopefully she will never have to turn to sex work again.

Your support and donations have made this possible. We are just so grateful for your partnership!



PS. We have a project up that was supposed to purchase the birthing kit for Kalunji – but she went into labor early and we didn’t get it in time. However, we do have a project for her Ross House entry package – click the button below!


17-year-old Vivian, above, designed and created this amazing outfit for her final project in Tailoring last year. That was just before the June 2021 lockdown.

After the lockdown happened, Vivian had a very difficult time coping, and, for her and a few other girls, we re-launched the Ndoto Cooperative. This gave them a small salary, a place to come every day, and the freedom to design and create items to sell in local shops.

Now that the lockdowns are over and Term 1 2022 is underway, we are FINALLY ready to launch an Advanced Tailoring class for girls like Vivian who really have a flair for fashion and design. Our new teacher, Martha, is a professional seamstress, and she is very excited to be spending the next 6 months with such talented teens.

We don’t have an exact date that we’ll start yet, but we are aiming for the middle of March. We have purchased the final 2 electric machines and all the materials and supplies that are needed. Martha is designing a completely new curriculum. The girls are having an orientation and conversations with Marth on what they want to learn to do.

We are SO pleased to be able to offer this opportunity to 5 or 6 girls who have waited and hoped for months! I’m sure you’ll be hearing a lot about it in the coming year – and make sure to check out our social media for great photos and updates.

Thank you for your support – these kinds of opportunities are really and truly changing lives.



PS If you want to help with our vocational program, we have several projects up on DonorSee to purchase supplies. Just click the button below! Webele nyo!


Bob Ditty is an international award-winning photographer and film maker who lives in Uganda. Through mutual friends, we connected with him a couple of years ago and asked him to do a shoot at the Ross House compound and around the Namuwongo slum. First covid and then a bout with malaria delayed his visit – UNTIL TODAY!

Bob is shooting both images and video for us today and tomorrow, and we cannot wait to see what he produces. Because he is just amazing at his craft.

But equally as exciting is that he is mentoring Fauza and Monica Angel, the two girls in our Skills for Life Videography class. They are training to be Namuwongo’s first-ever female videographers, and having someone like Bob spend time mentoring them, as well as letting them shadow him as he works, is absolutely priceless.

I woke up this morning to photos and videos like this one. Bob demonstrating, explaining, encouraging, answering questions… For two teenagers from the slum, this is an experience that could change their entire lives.

One of our core philosophies is that we empower our teen girls to create lasting, sustainable change in their lives. We provide OPPORTUNITIES which give HOPE and SKILLS, and those things drive CHANGE.

Bob’s visit will bless all of us with amazing images and video, and give us a glimpse into our work with new eyes. But what it is giving Fauza and Monica Angel is literally life-changing.

We can’t thank you enough for your support!