June? Already??


It’s June! J.U.N.E. Holy cow.


Just a quick note to apologize for missing this week’s newsletter. I’m out of town for my brother-in-law’s memorial (he passed away in December), and time got away from me.

Lots is happening at the compound, including all the kids getting new clothes thanks to donors on DonorSee.

We are finalizing a “summer school session” on farming for a test group of girls during the term break.

And — something I always forget — we have shirts and bags at our Bonfire store, which is a great way to outfit yourself for summer AND support Ten Eighteen Uganda. There’s a sale for the whole month, 10% off with the code SUMMER24.


Back to regularly scheduled programming next week.



June? Already?? Read More »

Update on Farmer Derrick

I don’t normally post off-cycle, but a lot of you reached out after my last email regarding Derrick’s wife’s passing.

I wanted to let you know that the baby just passed away as well, literally minutes ago. I am so, so sad, and I know you will be based on the love you sent his way last week.

If you’d like to contribute to his new burial expenses, please use Donorbox with the box below.

Derrick’s baby

Update on Farmer Derrick Read More »

Life, Death, and Ugandan Health Care


When my son was fourteen, he spent 4 days in the International Hospital of Kampala, a private hospital started by an Irish doctor, for pneumonia. Despite being the premiere hospital in Uganda at that time, it was a pretty hair-raising experience. I’m very thankful for the British doctor who took over the case the second afternoon, and very thankful that we were able to make the daily payments at the bursar’s office to keep him in care.

I’ve also spent a fair amount of time in local and regional hospitals during the three years I worked with Hospice Jinja and Hospice Tororo. These are the kinds of hospitals with 1930’s style metal beds where you have to bring your own mattress if you want one, and a family member has to stay with you, often sleeping under your bed in a 40+ person ward and cooking on a charcoal pile outside so you have food and someone to change your bandages.

Unfortunately, the latter is the norm for most Ugandans. Since the pandemic, even the government hospitals, such as those I visited, charge in advance for care, effectively excluding most before they can even be seen. Maternity care and labor and delivery services are almost nonexistent.

Sadly, yesterday morning our farmer, Derrick, lost his wife in childbirth. The baby girl is healthy, but the mother passed away. I don’t know the specific reason, but it is probably something shocking to our Western sensibilities because it is so easily treated. This is way too common for Ugandan women.

We have a project up to pay for transport and the burial costs. Yesterday was a Muslim holiday so nothing could be done, but today Derrick will begin the process of burying his wife. We’ve already sent the money for his expenses, but this is outside of our normal budget. If you’re interested in helping, the project link is below.

Mostly, I want to thank you for your support of our compound clinic. While the majority of our nurse’s time is spent on things like malaria, typhoid, and pink eye, both Nurse Sherry and now Nurse Brenda have stayed with our teen girls as they give birth, rushed sick babies to the hospital in the middle of the night and made sure they got seen, and taken hurt toddlers to the children’s hospital in Mulago to make sure they get appropriate treatment and care.

YOU are doing that. You are giving a tremendous gift — the gifts of health and of life. We truly cannot thank you enough.

Mwebele nnyo,


PS – I woke up Thur morning and found that you all had already funded this project! That’s amazing!

If you’d like to make a donation to Derrick’s baby’s needs and care, you can still donate to this project (It can go over 100%) and we will purchase baby items and other things the caregivers may need with however much we get in.

Project for Derrick

Life, Death, and Ugandan Health Care Read More »

Q&A on Mikisa Farm


Here in NC, spring has sprung! Apple and pear trees are blooming, the Carolina jessamine vines — beautiful yellow flowers — are popping up everywhere, and yes, the pine pollen has started to turn everything yellow.

In just the past few days I’ve had a lot of questions about our little Mikisa Farm in Uganda, so I thought I’d do a Q and A for you. Meanwhile, go out and get your hands in the dirt!

Q: What are you growing now?

A: We’re now in dry season, so the cabbages are finishing up and the wet season’s collards are done. Collards are great nutrition and easy to grow, so Farmer Derrick is putting in a new crop of them for “spring.” He’ll also be planting beans, maize, more eggplants, and some other types of greens. Our fruit trees should start bearing, and we can harvest cassava and matoke soon.

Q: What fruits do you have on the property?

A: We have papaya, mango, oranges, avocado, and sweet bananas. Matoke are a kind of banana but more starchy, like a tasteless plantain.

Q: How do you keep the plants watered during dry season since it’s, you know, DRY?

A: We have two irrigation tanks that are connected to a solar-powered drip irrigation system that waters the fields. The second tank is newer and will help us cultivate more of the property than we have been able to.

Q: Are you training any of the girls or staff on growing food?

A: Yes! Our staff loves (LOVES) to go to the farm and help with all the tasks, even hand clearing brambles and hoeing up the fields. We are going to run a pilot program for five students during the term break and a couple of months following to finalize a curriculum to add to Skills for Life.

Q: The farm cost a lot of money and you have to pay Farmer Derrick. Is it worth it?

A: YES! The farm has helped us tremendously since Derrick started as our full time farmer in January 2023. Every week he is able to deliver fresh produce to the Touch the Slum compound, which has kept our weekly expense for those goods at the market down at manageable levels. The Sunday deliveries are a highlight for the residential girls, who get a Sunday dinner with whatever has been added to our larder.

We want to thank you all for your ongoing support of Mikisa Farm. You not only helped us buy it, finish the farmhouse, dig the well, install the latrine, and hire Derrick, you have come through every time we have needs. It has made an enormous impact, and we honestly couldn’t do it without you.

Mwebele nnyo!


PS We have a project up to upgrade our solar at the farm. This will allow us to put in more lights, both for Derrick at the farmhouse and for security farther out into the property. We still need about $300 — if you want to help, just click the button!

Solar Upgrade

Q&A on Mikisa Farm Read More »

An extra day of sunshine


Happy February 29th! If it’s your birthday, aren’t you so glad it’s finally here?!

The past month (except yesterday!) has been hot and dry in Kampala and at the farm. While that’s not so great for the last of our cabbages, it’s been wonderful for our heat-loving veggies like the eggplants Ronald is picking in the photo.

We’ve got more seeds going in almost every day for new produce and the girls at the compound have been excited by the changes in their diet — which is also a great nutrition boost!

We have a new project in the works, which we’ve been talking about for 2 years now:

Adding in a Farming class to Skills for Life!

We will be starting with a shorter course with 5 girls, timed for weekends and the term break to work out the kinks — like housing and feeding them for days at a time, who will be the chaperone, what Derrick will teach them exactly, etc.

But we are VERY excited that the farm is at the place now where we can bring this skill to our girls. For, while some grew up in the village, many were born in the Namuwongo slum and have never grown the first thing. The Rotary Club in the area has built a greenhouse in the slum… but hardly anyone uses it. What if our girls develop the skills to use it, and can provide fresh produce for their families?


We’ve also had the neighbors of Mikisa Farm coming to ask Derrick how we’re growing so muchand so differently than the traditional (inefficient) way. This will give us an opportunity to bring in some of them to learn, too.

What do we say? Go deep to change a culture!

We are so appreciative of all your support and encouragement.

Mwebele nnyo!


PS Our project to make liquid soap for the next couple of months is 84% funded – we just need $40 to finish it and buy the materials. If you’d like to donate today, here’s the link!


PSS Last year, either the IRS or our accountant made a keying error on our address and it currently shows we’re in Butner NC (27509) instead of Raleigh (27609) in their database. We thought we’d fixed it with a new filing, but it is still showing incorrectly, so searches in their database for 1018 using the correct zip or city aren’t showing us. Rest assured we ARE still a registered 501c3 — you can just put in our EIN of 26-3867682 and NC and find us. We’re still working on getting it corrected!

An extra day of sunshine Read More »

Farming for food


I grew up in a farming family — citrus growers in Florida — and am always growing something either hydroponically or outdoors. North Carolina, where I live, is a heavily agricultural state, so we have access to many wonderful farms and farmers markets.

But let’s be real… For virtually everyone in the US, we are growing for pleasure, for fun, for the taste of a fresh picked strawberry. But we can get food, any time, in any number of stores.

For the families of our girls in the slum, the cheapest things to buy are posho (finely ground maize) and beans. If they’re lucky, there’s one tomato and a small onion cooked into the beans, perhaps some semawiki (collards). But that’s “special” and doesn’t happen often.

We’ve always had a small “grocery” budget at Touch the Slum, which covers produce from a small local market. Like everything else over the last few years, the prices have gone up. You can’t grow food in the slum… so you have to transport it from villages, then the vendors have to walk or take a boda to get it from a Central market. All that adds to the cost.

When we started Mikisa Farm in last 2022, we did it to provide the nutrition that fresh produce brings, and that is so lacking in the typical diet of those living in Namuwongo. Now, thanks to your generous donations to get the farm, finish the farm house so we could have a full time farmer, and for seeds and tools and irrigation, we are getting weekly fresh produce.

It’s literally a life changing thing!

Ten Eighteen and Touch the Slum are not “rack up big numbers to get big grants” organizations. We are small, but we are deeply touching and changing lives every day. We don’t focus on one quick fix… We focus on deep change and education that will ensure a sustainable future for our girls.

We can do that because of YOU, and we can’t thank you enough!

Mwebele nnyo!


PS One of our Literacy girls, Anita, became homeless and her mom brought her to live at Touch the Slum so she could continue her education. The project for her entry package (toiletries, mattress, clothes, etc) is 65% funded and just needs $95 to be complete. We’d love your help!

Anita’s Entry Package

Farming for food Read More »

Menu testing, picking collards, and my feelings about jackfruit


Hello from the quiet Kampala Forest Resort, our next-to-last day in Kampala. Wow, has the trip gone by quickly!

We woke up in the EARLY morning to a huge thunderstorm, with pounding rain. With metal roofs, that’s loud! Connie, Bertie, and Harriet were supposed to leave for the farm at 5:00, but those of our staff living in the slum who were also going couldn’t get to the compound, so the departure was delayed.

Then, of course, we had stragglers… But the team eventually took off for Mikisa Farm at about 6:40. As you can see from the above photo, the weather at the farm has been good for them, and they were put right to work harvesting collards and other fresh-picked food to take back to Touch the Slum. They also picked and ate a jackfruit — a fruit I have strongly negative feelings about! (I also have strongly negative feels about collards, which may get me kicked out of the Southern-ladies club, but what can you do?!)

Thursday is our last day in Kampala, and everyone will be playing to their strengths: Bertie and Harriet will be doing Q&A health seminars in the am and pm, where the girls can ask anything. Connie will be making bolognese sauce to serve with their choice of rice or pasta — a previously unknown meal that I know they will enjoy. Susan will be doing her final art classes, in which I’ll likely play assistant, and I will be having a few final meetings.

Friday morning we head west, driving 4 1/2 to 5 hours to see the well that YOU helped construct in Rwakobo village. I am SO excited to see it, and will have some photos and video for you once I get back. We will also stop (briefly) at Wells of Hope School to say hello and donate some soccer balls.

And that’s the end of the work! We will go into Lake Mburo National Park from there to do a boat safari on Friday evening and a driving safari on Saturday morning. On Sunday, we head back east and, for three of us returning to the US, to the airport. By Monday evening, we’ll all be back home!

It’s been a great trip — great to introduce the work to three new people, great to have my mom along again, great to work and play with some of my favorite people on the planet. It’s always such a blessing to be in Uganda, and to see how well our program is growing and maturing. I’ll have a more “businessy” update next week, but until then…

Tweyanzizza nnyo, tweyanzeege — we are so grateful, thank you very much!


PS If you want to follow along (or backtrack) on our trip, just go to via a web browser and search for Ten Eighteen Uganda and also for Touch the Slum. You can see the videos we’ve been posting every day and don’t have to have an account!

To find great projects to support, click here!

Menu testing, picking collards, and my feelings about jackfruit Read More »

Our Vision for 2024

2023 has been a banner year for Ten Eighteen, at Touch the Slum and in the west where we provided the well for Rwakobo Village.

Over a hundred girls have learned to read, write, speak English, and do basic math.

They have learned a skill in Tailoring, Hairdressing, Photography/Videography, or Digital Literacy.

We were selected by Plan International to be one of only two nonprofits in their referral program in the entire (LARGE) district, made up of millions of Ugandans.

We introduced drawing and painting and unleashed creativity in both students and staff — NOT something that’s very common in Uganda!

Every day, girls were rescued, supported, treated, respected, and lifted up, in ways big and small.

And guess what? 2024 is going to be even better!

January marks our 15th year working in the Namuwongo slum and in Uganda!

Also in January, we are taking a team of four amazing women who will bring lifetimes of skills in art, writing, cooking, organic farming, nursing and public health, and psychiatric social work to our staff and students.

In the spring, our “community organization” status will be officially upgraded to a country-wide NGO.

With the funding of our newest large project on DonorSee, we will be able to move the residential girls to a separate nearby house. This will give them more peace and quiet and room to heal, and it will free up space in the Touch the Slum compound to expand our vocational skills program.

As our farm continues to produce, we will start taking teams of girls from TTS who are interested in learning farming skills to get hands on experience. (You can’t grow much in the slum!)

All this and more is thanks to generous donations like the one you made last year. Will you consider making a year end donation to help us again?

As always, 100% of your donations go to the program, and we SO appreciate your support and encouragement!

Mwebele nnyo,



PS If you aren’t following us on Instagram, now is a great time to start. Our home-grown media team does amazing work, and we have new content up every day. It’s a great way to keep up with all we’re doing in Namuwongo and to see all the fun we have on the team trip next month.

Our Vision for 2024 Read More »

300 kg of Maize! What a Harvest at Mikisa Farm!


Most have you have followed us since we started fundraising for what is now Mikisa Farm over a year ago. You saw the shell of a brick house, the weeds, and two acres of land with nothing else. You gave, you cheered when we bought the land in August 2022, you’ve supported our projects since then, and have sent many comments here and on Instagram.

Now you can celebrate a huge milestone: our first maize harvest!

Ronald went to the farm on Friday with 3 others from the Touch the Slum team. They were joined by four of our teachers on Sunday. And this is what they did: pulled dry maize off the stalks, bundled the hundreds of cobs into bags, hauled them to the farmhouse, then helped bag the 300 kilograms (that’s 660 pounds!) of maize kernels as they came out of the thresher.


This maize will be milled to posho, and will feed our girls (and cut our grocery budget!) for many weeks. We could not be more excited, grateful, and (speaking for the team) tired!

All of us make up the Ten Eighteen Uganda team — you, me, our Board, our staff, our students, their parents and guardians, and the community in Namuwongo who has come alongside our mission to change the culture for teen girls in the slum.

We did good, y’all!

Mwebele nnyo!


PS We still need funds for the second irrigation tank at the farm. We’re 25% there, and just need $960 to get it purchased and installed, with the solar and piping. It’s dry season now — that’s why we could dry the maize on the stalks — so it would really help Derrick to have more irrigation to help him every day. Just click below!


300 kg of Maize! What a Harvest at Mikisa Farm! Read More »

The Girls Are In Love With Farming


Growing up, my family farmed citrus. I remember going out to the groves with my dad or grandfather, running around the barn, afraid of the ponds because alligators lived in them. One time I had a face to face encounter with a Florida black panther… Fortunately we stared at each other down the dirt road, me terrified and him deciding if I was a snack, and then we went slowly in separate directions.

Even growing up on the Indian River, out of town, the groves were special. Quiet, peaceful, beautiful, full of life.

Four of our staff girls are learning that about Mikisa Farm. These young women are all from the slum. While full of life, the slum is anything but quiet or beautiful. It’s certainly never peaceful.

We have a dorm room set up at the farm to accommodate groups. Right now, we’re taking staff and volunteers out there because we’re in the final “set up” phase: Hoeing, spreading manure and fertilizer on the bananas and other trees, getting beds ready for seeds.

It’s a labor opportunity, not so much a learning opportunity at the moment!

But everyone LOVES it. They didn’t want to leave! I had a meeting with Ronald yesterday and he said, “It’s so quiet, there’s a breeze and fresh air, and you can see so many stars!”

We started the farm as a way to grow food for Touch the Slum. We knew we’d open up opportunities for any girls in the program who wanted to learn about farming, or who grew up in the village and missed it. But we were thinking in practical, problem solving terms.

We forgot the value of peace and quiet. Of space to think and look at the stars and laugh over a fire on a chilly night. Of pride in a physical job well done. Of the healing that happens under the wide Ugandan sky.

I can’t wait to get there next month…

Thank you all for your generous donations to our farm over the last 7 months! Tomorrow is the last day that the farm project will be up on DonorSee. If you can make a donation today to help us with these final infrastructure costs, we’d so appreciate it. 100% goes to the program!

Oh, and visit our Instagram to see videos of the work at the farm this week and the girls smiling and dancing their way through their work. Link below!


Webele nyo!


PS If you or your group are in the Raleigh or Beaufort NC or Cocoa FL areas and want to donate sanitary pads for us take over next month, please REPLY to this email and we’ll coordinate with you!

The Girls Are In Love With Farming Read More »

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