I wanted to send this off-cycle announcement because it’s so exciting!
We have a new large project on DonorSee:
We are going to move our 12 residential girls to a new compound, just for them!
We opened the Ross House first, in October 2020, for teen moms in crisis. Since then we have added 2 more residential dorms, five skills, and have over 100 people in the small compound every day. It’s fun, loud, chaotic, and wonderful… but it makes it difficult for the residents to find any quiet time or splace, especially when they first come to us and are in crisis.
The project is $11,500 and will pay for the house, staff (Mama Santa and a security guard), utilities, food, furniture (living and kitchen), and everything else we’ll need for ONE YEAR.
We already have 10% funded — we’d love you to check out the video! Just click the button below.
Last week, we hosted Ray Majanga as he did a week long workshop for the media team on documentary filmmaking. It was a long 6 days for the team, as you can see from Fauza in the photo above (haha!), but they did an amazing job and soaked up knowledge like a sponge.
Our media team is “home grown.” Monica and Fauza were our first two students under Teacher Deo. They also learned a lot from Ray’s own mentor, Bob Ditty, when he came to visit. Monica and Fauza are now on our staff as our official photographer (Monica) and videographer/filmmaker (Fauza).
Monica and a few others who have gone through our course now have their own photography business called Hype Media — they do wedding and event photography, and do an amazing job!
We focus a lot on media, mostly video, and spend a lot of time and energy to create great content.
The world is now digital, and most people will never go to Uganda. People have short attention spans, too, thanks to the internet, and you have to capture their attention. Video is the best medium for that quick “HEY LOOK AT ME!” opportunity.
While we can’t bring you ALL the sensations of Uganda, like smell of the slum (bad) or the taste of the food (amazing), we can bring you sights and sounds so that you can connect with the people, the place, and the work. The genius of DonorSee’s founder, Grett Glyer, was exactly this: for donors to SEE both the need and the way their money was making an impact.
We use that in all our work, not just on DonorSee, because it is so impactful. This is why I encourage you to visit DonorSee and our Instagram page every day to see — actually SEE — the impact that you are making with your donations, your encouragement, and your thoughts and prayers.
We can’t thank you enough!
PS We now have TEXT TO GIVE in the US! It’s so easy! Just dial 801801 on your smart phone and put in the message TOUCHTHESLUM. It’s quick and easy, and you can easily give again later or even become a monthly donor via SMS.
For Canadian donors, use 1-855-575-7888 with campaign ID 505470.
I don’t know about you, but when I go shopping for clothes, I browse, scrutinize, reject, make piles, sort, try on… it’s exhausting! (And let’s not get started on bathing suit season…!)
Did you ever stop in the middle of TJMaxx and think, “Wow, this is quite a luxury?” Yeah, me neither.
When girls who join our residential program get to the point where they are in crisis and come to us, they have nothing but the clothes on their backs. And those are almost always infested with bed bugs, so into the fire barrel they go.
From Day 1, they have to rely on us for literally everything from a toothbrush to shoes to sanitary pads to clothes for their children. Choice, as a concept, is pretty limited — but that’s true for everyone living in the Namuwongo slum.
Donations have been slower this year, and inflation and wars make people justifiably afraid. Some of our larger projects, like clothing for the babies, have been slow to fund.
As you always do, you came through with much-needed clothes for our babies yesterday (hence the belated newsletter). And let me tell you how they shop:
Call a vendor on the phone.
Tell them we have a dozen babies and toddlers who need clothes.
Wait a few hours.
Receive a (literal) vacuum sealed brick of clothing in a tightly wrapped bundle.
Team up with friends to even lift it off the boda and carry it inside.
Carefully cut open the clothes from the UK and see what surprises wait inside. (You can watch the video on our Instagram page!)
It was like an early Christmas, and the clothing spread out everywhere gave the girls plenty of choice for their little ones. We also have some put aside for later needs.
Not every “win” is an exciting gotcha moment, but for girls who have learned to expect nothing from life, what you provide by supporting their basic needs as well as their education is HOPE. In humanity, in their futures, and for their children.
Have you ever been up in the middle of the night, finding yourself watching infomercials (am I showing my age here?!), ready to dial in for some FREE STUFF?
If you did, you likely discovered that the FREE STUFF cost you money to ship, or required a subscription, or some other back-door way of getting your money.
Uganda’s school “system” is like this.
First, there is no system. Not locally, regionally, or nationally. There are a very few “government schools” but not in the sense we in America and the West understand them. They aren’t open to everyone, and they aren’t free.
Second, “school” is a bit generous! They use a very antiquated semi-British colonial system requiring rote learning and endless repetitions of facts. Most are hugely underfunded, teacher pay is terrible, and the pandemic lockdowns where schools were closed for almost 2 years shifted many good teachers into other jobs.
Third, even at a government school, it’s not “free.” Students are required to bring many of the things we would consider the school’s responsibility, like toilet paper and brooms. They are required to wear uniforms including shoes, which many Ugandans don’t have. They have to bring paper and pencils and pay for testing. Even in a free school! If it’s a fee-based school, even if it’s very inexpensive, they have to pay at the beginning of each term.
This is why only about 60% of Ugandan children go to primary school on any regular basis, and less than half of those go on to Secondary. This is doubly true for girls, who many families refuse to spend money on.
This is why a program like Touch the Slum is so vital to the vulnerable teen girls in the slum. We actually ARE free. 100%, never-any-cost FREE.
We provide Literacy, Skills, food, medical care, daycare, sanitary pads, diapers, clothes and shoes, mosquito nets, water bottles, and, to those especially vulnerable, assistance to the family. AT NO COST.
I don’t know about you, but to me…. that’s what FREE means!
How do we do it?
YOU! You and others donate so our girls can create a self-sustaining life. It’s pretty amazing — and we can’t thank you enough for the impact you are making every single day.
PS We’re halfway there on our reviews at GreatNonprofits – can you take a couple of minutes to leave one today??
We’ve recently started using Dropbox to share all our media back and forth, so I get to go on and click through so many fun photos and videos looking for a good photo for you.
I was clicking through photos of a recent Game Day, and was really taken by the focus and intensity of every single person playing every single game in every single photo. Even Chutes & Ladders!
I thought about it for minute and realized why:
PLAYING is a big deal to everyone in our program.
They don’t have the kind of life where you just get to play a game, watch football on television, even just sit and do something fun, with no “work” purpose.
They have the kind of life where you start doing at dawn, and you’re still doing well after dark. Hand washing clothes. Walking to fill jerry cans of water and carrying them back home — multiple times a day. Cooking on a small charcoal stove. Washing dishes in a bucket. Doing day labor or a small hand-to-mouth business. Tending mostly-naked small children as they run around in muck-filled canals. Walking a half a mile for a workable toilet (that you have to pay to use).
Over the last couple of years, you have donated for us to buy board games and balls and balloons and art supplies and toys.
You have brought a totally new concept to hundreds of lives:
I would argue that it’s (almost) as important as the food, clothes, lessons, and medicine you also provide — becauseit gives the WHY for those things.
I love this quote: “Play is our brain’s favorite way of learning.” -Diane Ackerman
What really makes you guys amazing is that you don’t “require” us to to show you all the terrible things about the slum to want to give. You also give to bring joy and fun and sparkle and laughter.
Basically… you rock!
PS Are you following us on Instagram and YouTube? You need to be! We’ve been working on some new short documentaries with more in the works, and our daily Instagram at both Ten Eighteen Uganda and Touch the Slum are full of great content to keep you up to speed!
See my face? That’s kind of what my face looked like when Ronald said that the government body regulating community organizations told us on Monday that they’d passed a new rule on reporting, so we had to have a detailed accounting of ALL our activities for the year-to-date. ON FRIDAY
I love Uganda. I really do. But this? Nope. Don’t love!
It’s not like we couldn’t do it — and they did do it, for which I’m very proud. It’s just a reminder of how many things are out of our control.
We can’t control that there is no universal, free education so all girls get to go to school.
We can’t control that most people, from those in government to those living in expensive houses literally a street away from the slum, think that people living in the Namuwongo slum “deserve it” for some reason.
We can’t control that employment opportunities for youth are so bad (unemployment for youth in Uganda is over 60%) that sex work is often the only choice left to desperate young girls.
We can control our response, though.
We can seek to change all those things by rescuing, educating, and empowering one girl at a time. Going deep to bring healing from trauma and abuse. Redirecting pain and anger into learning skills that will empower their futures. Teaching and showing them that they have inherent worth — and it’s much more than fried chicken or pizza.
Plan International was looking for the “hidden mzungu” who was “secretly” adding funding to our work at Touch the Slum.
Well, that’s YOU! You all are the not-so-hidden mzungus who are giving, encouraging, praying, and even going over to Uganda to keep Touch the Slum going for our teen girls.
We can’t thank you enough!
PS Here are some buttons for you. We got about 30% of the reviews we need at Great Nonprofits for our 2023 Top Rated Nonprofit award (THANK YOU!), so if you’d like to take 5 min and leave a review, that would be great. We have 2 projects that are over 60% funded on DonorSee, plus some other great project, so you can check those out. And if you aren’t following us on Instagram, head over there to see daily updates!
Oh, and new 2024 tees and sweatshirts are now available!
I don’t usually do bullet-list updates, because I love to tell stories. But sometimes we just have so much going on that you should know about… Today is that day, so here we go!
Ronald is doing training with Plan International and one of their partner organizations, and has repeatedly been told that they can’t believe there isn’t a “hidden mzungu” somewhere funding everything because we get SO MUCH DONE on such a small budget. Y’all can take a bow, because that’s all YOU!
Ronald has also been asked to do a guest lecture at Mkerere University on our work with teen girls and children in the slum! Way to go, Ronald!
We had two sewing machine projects funded this week on DonorSee, one for resident teen mom Harriet for her new life in the village, and one for Husinah so she can support her family in the slum. It was all done in one day and both girls were so excited! Harriet is holding the sign, in the black and white strips. We’ll sure miss her!
On Sunday, Betty boarded a bus for a week-long intensive training with Neema Development, the provider of our Entrepreneur Training Course. This is going to enable us to expand this course to more girls, and also add the second half of it. Because you all have supported our Literacy program, we can move deeper into the training. Mwebele nnyo!
Our new nurse, Brenda, completed her time learning our compound Haven Clinic with Nurse Sherry and is now our full time nurse. We will miss Sherry so much, but we’re excited to welcome Nurse Brenda to the TTS family.
And last but definitely not least, we have now had 275 projects funded on DonorSee!That’s over $113,400!If you haven’t checked out our page there, just click here. We always have 10-12 projects up, and we have a new large project in the works which is super exciting. (Yep, that was a teaser… more to come!)
You all are the lifeblood of Ten Eighteen Uganda and Touch the Slum, and the only reason we can do so much to change lives and culture in the Namuwongo slum. We honestly can’t thank you enough for your generosity and support. (Really, take that bow!)
PS Don’t forget to follow us on Instagram where we have daily video of all that’s happening. When you get 100 people in a small compound every day, there’s always a LOT going on! We also have a YouTube channel with some fun video.
What do you think of when you hear the word “entrepreneur?”
For most of us, it’s tech startups and Elon Musk and a new coffee food truck in your town. Things that have a pretty hefty start up cost, and are reserved for the rarified few who are brave enough to enter “nothing ventured, nothing gained” territory.
According to the Mastercard Index of Women Entrepreneurs, Uganda is the 2nd most entrepreneurial country for women in the world. And I’m sure you’ve gathered from these newsletters that these women aren’t getting multi-million dollar venture capital investments and renting entire floors of office space in Austin and Raleigh.
But the extremely high unemployment (over 60% when you only count “jobs” with the government or businesses) and very low number of available paid jobs (many do multi-year free internships before ever getting paid!) means that women (and girls) are forced by default to become self-employed entrepreneurs.
Today, I sent the funds for two such young ladies in our program.
Harriet is a teen mom who has been with us for a year and a half. Her mother has decided to move back to their village, and she needs Harriet to go with them because Harriet is the only one with any skill to make money. In short, 16 year old Harriet is about to be the sole breadwinner for her family of 6.
Husinah, also 16, was in our first Literacy class, where she learned incredibly fast. She moved on to Basic and then Advanced Tailoring, where she was a shining star. She graduated when my mom and I were there in April and, as always, her smile was 1000 watts. Her single mother has been sick and unable to make any money for some time, and the family has really struggled.
Harriet is getting an exit package with a manual sewing machine, the supplies she needs to start a small tailoring business in the village, and money for transportation. We are also working with her to make sure she always has a working phone — we want to make sure that if she gets sick, she has a way to contact us. (We are all still grieving Kalunji’s death…)
Husinah is getting a semi-industrial electric machine which she will use at our compound. Our former in-house tailor, Vivian, has gotten a job elsewhere, so Husinah will take her place to fill special orders for items such as aprons and bags that come in. She will receive a small salary for that, and also be able to take special orders of her own for income. Additionally, being at the compound every day means regular food and a safety net for her.
Culture change is slow and requires flexibility and out of the box thinking. It’s very easy to look out at the sea of humanity walking around in bright gomesi dresses and American knockoff shirts and feel that it’s just too big of a job.
When I worked with Hospice Jinja at the very beginning, they had a motto:
Do what you can, where you can, for as long as you can.
We don’t have to do everything. We don’t have to solve Uganda’s problems (thank goodness!). We don’t have to shift from our go-deep philosophy. We just have to do what we can, where we are, for as long as we can.
And we CAN do that because of YOU!
PS Harriet’s project still has $25 left to be fully funded, although we are getting the items today. Her mom wants to leave for the village this weekend, so we went ahead and funded it and trust the remaining balance will come in soon. If you want to help, just click the button!