September 2022

YOU Are the HOW at Ten Eighteen Uganda!

I’m from Florida, as were six generations before me. I have been accused of having “thin blood”, because I start wearing long sleeves in early September, and have been known to wear a wetsuit if the water temperature is below about 78 degrees.

I also do NOT like to sweat. That led me to have a young life filled with swimming pools, diving boards, sailboats, water skis, and canoes. No tennis or (heaven forbid) cross country running for me!

All that to say, I was never part of a TEAM. Yes, swimming and diving means you’re on a team, but they are individual sports at heart. You can win a First when the team comes in last. Really, you just need a ride to the pool!

I’m also an introvert, and could (honestly) probably be a professional hermit.

But THIS, Ten Eighteen Uganda, is truly a TEAM. It’s way beyond me, and that’s wonderful!

Our team in Uganda is 22 paid staff and another handful of full time volunteers who work tirelessly with and for our teen mom and teen girls. They are all from the Namuwongo slum themselves, and live there or nearby still, so they are well aware of the circumstances in which the girls live.

Our team outside of Uganda — me and our small board — does all the communications, fundraising, technical stuff, and project development. For free.

But NONE of that would have produced the incredible program we have now if it wasn’t for YOU. Every single donation, no matter the size, is put to work immediately. 100% of it. Day in and day out, you come through.

It’s not because I’m such a great communicator, or that the media team produces such great content, or that Ronald is an extraordinary administrator. It’s because, for some or all or none of those reasons but also because our mission lit a fire in you, you saw the need, you saw that you could do something, and then — most importantly — you took action.

Trust me, most people get hung up after that second one! They don’t think $5 or $10 or $100 can “do anything” so they end up not doing anything. But hundreds or thousands of people doing something equals an incredible movement that can shift a culture.

That’s what you’re doing. Shifting a culture!

I wish we had the budget to send you all… something. A hat or a shirt or fly a banner over your house to thank you. This will have to do.

We really can’t ever thank you enough…

Webele nyo!

Jennings (and the team!)

YOU Are the HOW at Ten Eighteen Uganda! Read More »

Update on the Farm – Put a Roof On It!

Ronald picked a great day to go out to the farm yesterday – look at the blue sky! It’s been SO wet this rainy season in the Kampala area, and even worse in the west.

This is Hopeland School on Sunday! Not good…

Anyway, back to the FARM.

As you can see, the roof work is underway and nearing completion. The doors and windows have been ordered and are being made. The cement was poured for the floors on a dry day – which was followed by NOT dry days, but it’s finally hardened. And look at the beans growing out front!

The rains will last a few more weeks. (Then we’ll be complaining about it being dry, I’m sure!) Meanwhile, they’re pressing on with the construction as the weather allows, and it’s looking so good!

The farm project is 63% funded, which is amazing. We do need the other 37% to come in in order to be able to get everything done that we have planned, like the greenhouse, the grain mill, and the bore hole. But we’ve made HUGE progress since July 11 when we launched (only 2 1/2 months!!), and we’re so grateful to you for your support.

If you know anyone who might be interested in donating to this sustainable farm project, please pass the email along. 100% goes to the project, so even a small donation really goes a long way. We’d love for you to also consider it for some of your year end giving budget (because holy cow it’s almost October!).

Thanks for believing in us and for helping us create lasting and sustainable lives for teen moms and teen girls in the slum. We never, ever take that for granted and are so amazed at your continuing support. Webele nyo!



PS Here’s the link for the farm. When you go to DonorSee, make sure to Follow us, too, so you can keep up with all we’re doing there. We always have 12-15 projects up at a time — many more than I can update you on in a short newsletter!


Update on the Farm – Put a Roof On It! Read More »

You Guys Are Really the Best!

This is Francis. We’ve known Francis since early 2010, when he was living at the children’s home run by some friends. We stayed there during all of our trips through 2015 — two a year — and got to know Francis really well.

He’s a WONDERFUL young man who has had a very difficult life. He was orphaned at the age of 8 when his village and the surrounding fields were consumed by fire. He wasn’t in the village at the time but saw the fire and rushed home to try to save his family. He couldn’t, and suffered significant burns in the rescue attempt.

He stayed at the home for about 8 years where he got an education and played football. Unfortunately, one of the other boys tried to stab him to death one night before fleeing, nearly killing Francis and causing significant injury. He spent a lot of time in hospital but made a full recovery.

Not long afterwards, the home closed down and the older kids were just left to fend for themselves. Most had some family somewhere in Uganda, but Francis did not. He had nowhere to go and no one to help.

Being smart and resourceful, he worked day labor and rented a small place. We were able to reconnect thanks to a messaging app in 2020, and Ten Eighteen has been helping him since then. And that’s where YOU come in!

We posted a project on Monday on DonorSee to pay for the certificate Francis had earned in computers. It was funded in a day! Yesterday he got the funds to the school, and should have the certificate in hand by the end of the week. We are working with him to finish his secondary education, find all the lost records from the children’s home, and figure out next steps.

We also had a project for windows at Wells of Hope Primary School in Rwakobo village funded this week. It’s the first of 5 that will be needed to get all the windows completed in the new building, so we’re really excited to be making progress there. The windows will be in by Saturday!

Most of our donations on DonorSee are between $10 and $25 – sometimes we have 20 donors involved in funding a project. And we LOVE that! We love that you all are coming together, giving what you can, and making a huge and immediate difference in people’s lives.

We are so grateful for your support, whether it’s a donation, a reply to an email, a Like on a social media post, or a text or call of encouragement. We don’t take any of it for granted, and really can’t thank you enough.

Webele nyo!


You Guys Are Really the Best! Read More »

Another Graduation Is Happening Soon!

Graduation photo time! Don’t they look great?!

Our Advanced Tailoring class made these caps and gowns, which are not only amazing, they save us the cost of renting them each graduation. And more importantly, they’re special. They’re uniquely ours, just like our philosophy that no girl should be excluded just because she’s never had the opportunity to go to school.

They’ve never done graduation photos.

They’ve never been celebrated or had anything to celebrate.

They’ve never done something that they and their families were proud of.

Until now!

Now, no matter if they’ve gone to school, no matter if they are teen moms, no matter if they’ve done things they wish they hadn’t in order to survive, they can be proud. They can party. They can dance and sing and ululate and laugh til they cry.

Because they did this. It’s all theirs. No one can take the accomplishment or knowledge from them.

That’s why we make it a really big deal! And YOU have helped us get these 35 girls here, you’ve helped us put on the past graduations, and you’ve supported the girls’ journeys from start to finish.

It’s really a team effort, and you’re the starting lineup — we can’t thank you enough!

Tweyanzizza nnyo, tweyanzeege! (We are so grateful, thank you very much!)



PS To help put on the graduation shindig, just click the button. 100% goes to the graduation!


Another Graduation Is Happening Soon! Read More »

We’ve Had a Great First Year on DonorSee!

Meet Jenifer and her daughter Victoria. Jenifer originally came to the Touch the Slum office when she was pregnant and homeless, and we were a small 2-room place in the slum.

We referred her to an organization we work with that helps pregnant teens called Amani, who had room to take her in. Jenifer gave birth and for a little while after lived with friends.

But about a year and a half ago she became homeless again. And she came back to Touch the Slum — only now we had a program just for girls like her: the Ross House.

Jenifer moved into the Ross House with Victoria, got medical treatment and a good diet, and she began to blossom. She started Skills for Life in Tailoring and it was apparent from the start that she was gifted.

After graduating, she moved into the Suubi House and on to Advanced Tailoring. She’s just finished with that and will graduate on October 1. In the meantime, she’s done so well that both tailoring teachers have been getting her side gigs. She’s saved up a good nest egg!

And now she’s ready to move out into her own place! To begin an independent life that doesn’t rely on a friend who can take her in or a man who will give her food in exchange for sex. And she’s ready!

We couldn’t be more proud of her.

We have a project up to fund her exit package. When our teen moms are ready for independent living, we don’t just show them the door. We make sure they’ve worked and saved enough for several months rent. That their job or own small business is established and stable. Then we gift them a mattress and bedding, household goods, food, and personal supplies.

And our door is always open – Victoria can come to daycare, and they can both get treatment from Nurse Sherry in the clinic. Mama Santa will be happy to serve them up some delicious plates of food, too.

This is the goal. This is the why.

You can’t make lasting, sustainable change without going deep. You can’t change a life without changing the way they see the world, without giving hope that’s based on a truly sustainable path.

Jenifer is a rock star, and I can’t wait to see how far she’ll go!



PS We have a project up on DonorSee for Jenifer’s exit package. I put it up yesterday afternoon and it’s already 40% funded! We’d love for you to bless her in her new life — as you’ve blessed her during her whole time at Touch the Slum. Just click! Webele nyo!

Jenifer’s Exit Gift!

We’ve Had a Great First Year on DonorSee! Read More »

Our Next Graduation Is Almost Here!

Mildred, above, is still our youngest graduate. She was 12 when she started Skills for Life in Tailoring, and 13 when she graduated. Her family was so impressed with her that they all pitched in to buy her a pedal-powered sewing machine – a big investment for a family in the slum. She was also offered a place at a school!

Now she attends school and makes money in her off-time to help support her family.

This is what it’s about — Mildred’s LIFE was changed, her family’s CULTURE was changed, and Mildred has a SUSTAINABLE way to create income for the rest of her life.

The graduation for Term 2 of Skills for Life, including the first Literacy Class, and Advanced Tailoring (which runs on a slightly different schedule since it’s longer) will be happening on October 1.

This is a really big deal!

We made our own caps and gowns, because it’s a really big deal.

We have a big party with cake and guest speakers, because it’s a really big deal.

We have them walk up by name to receive their certificates, because it’s a really big deal.

These are girls that no one has ever celebrated. No one has ever expected them to “amount to anything” except to repeat the cycle their own mothers were cast into.

But we celebrate them, and we know you do, too. Because honestly, it’s just a really really big deal.

Thank you for supporting us in all the ways that make days like this possible. We can’t thank you enough!

Webele nyo,


PS We have a project up to help us pull off graduation. We have 35 girls graduating this time around, a record!! If you’d like to contribute — any amount at all helps! — 100% goes to the project. Just click the button!

Graduation Rocks!

Our Next Graduation Is Almost Here! Read More »

Some New Features For Our Great Donors

ackline is one of the teen moms living in the Suubi House with her daughter Jasmine. She’s just completed Skills for Life and will begin working and saving money towards moving out to independent living.

This is our goal: sustainable self-sufficiency.

But like most worthwhile things, it’s a process. Jackline came to us homeless and destitute. They were both sick. She had nothing and no one.

Over the past nearly-year, she has worked hard in her classes. She’s participated in counseling, mentoring, and peer groups. She’s learned to identify things that are worth working and fighting for, and also the things (and people!) to stay far away from.

During the course of that time, we’ve provided for all her needs. She and Jasmine have been housed, fed, clothed, their illnesses treated, school supplies provided. Our only expectation has been her commitment to her future.

Obviously, free to her isn’t free to us, and you have been amazingly generous and consistent in your support of Touch the Slum over the last 2 years.

Now DonorSee has 2 new features that have opened up to us to make it even easier for you to support us:

Sponsorship — we currently have 2 projects up that need monthly sponsors: the clinic and the residential program.

The clinic is 40% funded, so we need $300 per month more so that the basic costs of running the clinic are covered. You can click here to become a sponsor.

The residential program doesn’t have any sponsors yet, so you can be the first! We house up to 8 teen mothers and their children in the Ross and Suubi Houses plus 4 in the dorm, and provide them with all their needs during their stay. (We currently have 5 teen moms and one teen who will give birth in the coming month, and 5 previously homeless Skills for Life students in the dorm.) It costs us $1,000 per month to care for these children, and we’d love to have your support — in ANY amount! Click here to become a sponsor.

Monthly Donor — Many of you are monthly donors through DonorBox, and we still use DonorBox for unspecified monthly donations and for other campaigns. But now, you can also be a monthly donor on DonorSee! When you click to donate, you will be given the option of “monthly” or one time. If you choose monthly, your donation will go to the largest project we have on the platform at the time of your donation. (Currently, that is the farm!)

Becoming a monthly donor, through either DonorSee or DonorBox, really helps us have visibility for our budget. We love seeing projects funded and one-time donations come in (so please don’t stop!), but we also love knowing that we have a defined amount that will come in each and every month.

Whichever you choose, we are so humbled and grateful that you choose to give to Ten Eighteen and our Touch the Slum project. We can’t thank you enough!

Webele nyo!


PS I’ve got several speaking engagements coming up in September and October. If you’d like to have me share about Uganda and our work at Touch the Slum at your group, just hit Reply and let me know!

Some New Features For Our Great Donors Read More »

What Day Is It?!

While we have a fair amount of holidays here in the US, they have a LOT of them in Uganda. All the Ugandan ones, and then they celebrate (take a day off) for a lot of the International ones, like International Day of the Child and Women’s Day.

But the girls at Touch the Slum don’t want a holiday — they want to learn! During our term break last month, most of the girls in the Literacy class showed up anyway. Teacher Martha kept them busy with fun things like Bananagrams (above), art, creating clay pots, movies in English, and more. And yes, we fed them lunch!

Let’s be honest… Most of us in the West never once considered showing up at school on a holiday! We were much more likely to play hooky, right?

When something is scarce, we value it.

For the teen moms and teen girls in Touch the Slum’s programs, they spent their childhoods watching brothers and neighbors go to school. Whenever their family had a bit of extra money that could fund school fees, it went to any male relative first – and to the girls almost never.

They understand the value and the opportunity that Touch the Slum and Skills for Life gives them.

They understand that we are working for a culture shift, not just a quick-fix solution to the many problems that teen girls face in the slum.

And they are beyond grateful for the opportunity to shine! (And shine they do!)

We couldn’t do it without you! Your support – financial and by words of encouragement – are the HOW of how we do it. We can’t thank you enough!

Webele nyo!


PS We’ve now funded 163 projects on DonorSee and are coming up to our 1-year anniversary on the platform. Amazing! Every month we supply 250 girls with free sanitary pads, which they otherwise can’t afford. Our current project needs about $300 to be funded – we’d love your help!

September Sanitary Pad Project!

What Day Is It?! Read More »

What’s Next for the Farm?

When Ronald found this land, the most noticeable WOW was that it had a home already started. It’s a multi-room brick structure with a garage — the former owner had planned to move there before all the pandemic lockdowns and inflation. That’s a HUGE bonus, as we’d planned to have to build a house for our caretaker from scratch, and while it’s bigger than anything we would have built, we will be sure to maximize all the space.

With the cost of things right now, we won’t be able to finish out the whole building at one time, but our next project is finishing the garage area into a home, with a roof, windows, doors, and floor. We’ll also make another room into a store room for tools and supplies.

Moses, who has been helping us with everything out there, is getting the quote together, and hopefully we’ll be able to start this work next week! And that’s all thanks to YOU and your amazing generosity in funding this project. We’re at 63% now, and would love your help to get us over the finish line soon! There’s a button below.

Meanwhile, look at the cassava in the photo above! Once Moses cleared the weeds and invasive plants out (and sprayed for bugs!), we realized we had a LOT more stuff already growing than we thought. There is a lot of cassava (yuca in Central and South America), and Ronald and Fauza were able to bring some back to Touch the Slum for Mama Santa to cook up. Cassava is great, because you yank it up, harvest the big tubers, then replant it and let it keep going.

We also have mature matoke and mango trees and have planted bananas. Moses is getting us free beans for planting, as well as some small trees from a friend. We’re looking into moringa – we may be able to get some small trees free from the government!

This project already means so much to our team, and now we’ve brought home the first produce… It’s truly amazing, and we can’t thank you enough!

Webele nyo!



PS I did a one-hour interview with DonorSee for an upcoming Spotlight feature. I edited the footage I recorded on my phone, so if you’re interested in how Ten Eighteen was born and what we’re up to, you can check it out here!

What’s Next for the Farm? Read More »

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