Feeding Program

It’s “Summertime” But They’re Still Coming To Class!

Uganda doesn’t have “summer.” I have spent a lot of time over the years trying to explain seasons, daylight savings time, and why our daylight is short in winter and long in summer.

When you’re on the equator, it’s a hard concept to grasp!

Their schools also don’t have a summer break. Typically, a school year starts in January and ends in December, with two breaks. As a vocational school, our schedule is a little different: we have about 5 month terms, with the last few weeks being exams. Other than Christmas, we’ve never actually taken a “term break” until now.

WHY are we taking a term break?

  • Well, first, the staff is TIRED! We’ve instituted a ton of new programs this year, including the literacy class, the computer lab, the daycare, the clinic, and Advanced Tailoring.
  • We went from 20 students per term to 60+. That meant Mama Santa is cooking a whole lot more food each day.
  • We went from 8 residential girls to 12, with the addition of our dormitory.
  • We went from 4 teachers to 9.
  • And finally, and importantly, food-inflation has more than doubled what it costs to feed all these people every day.

Everyone and our budget needed a break!

But we also recognize that we have girls who are particularly vulnerable to voluntary or involuntary sex work, starvation, and abuse. The girls in our Literacy program, both from the first term who are awaiting the start of Term 3 to learn a skill, and from this current term, have no way to make an income yet. For very many of them, the meals they get at the compound are the only meals they get. They are at risk of bad peer groups who influence them on drugs and alcohol use.

We just funded a food project on DonorSee to provide the extra food to keep these girls fed over this one-month break. But they don’t just come for the meals – they come to dance, to practice their English, to watch a movie, and to hang out in a safe place.

Our staff is taking rotating days off during this time so that we can accommodate the girls coming in, and the teachers are even coming up with some games and activities for them. We’re all committed to creating change in this community, and it doesn’t stop because school does!

Thank you for your tremendous support. We couldn’t do it without you! Follow us on social media (links below) to keep up with what’s happening at the compound during this break.

Blessings!

Jennings

PS. WE DID IT! We crossed $50,000 in all-time donations on DonorSee yesterday. That means we went from $30,000 to $50,000 in 27 days! WOW!

Patricia is in the Literacy Class and will start S4L Tailoring on August 15th. Her supplies project is over 60% funded – we’d love your help to get her set up for success! Just click!

Help Patricia with supplies!

Ways To Help During the Current Food Crisis

Stories like this one are popping up in Ugandan media, even as the government is trying to ignore the severity of inflation and supply chain issues. As the President said recently, “Just don’t eat wheat – have matoke instead.” (Sound like any French monarch you recall?)

Now, Karamoja and the northern portions of Uganda that are bordering South Sudan are very dry and arid. The Karamoja tribes are herders, and can travel large distances to find grazing for their cattle. But what is happening there is coming to the rest of the country if it can’t get a handle on a few things:

  • Stopping the export of commodity crops to other countries until the supply chain problems ease
  • Forming some sort of safety net program for the extremely poor who have never recovered from the pandemic lockdowns
  • Stopping the new post-pandemic policy of charging at “free” hospitals

I’m not holding my breath, and we’re not waiting for the government!

Here’s how YOU can help the teen moms and teen girls in our programs – as always, 100% goes to our programs:

  • Become a monthly donor on DonorBox. We will receive the money in 1-3 business days.
  • If you are a big Paypal user, we are part of the Paypal Giving Fund. We will receive the money electronically in up to 45 days.
  • You can give through GreatNonprofits, too. We get a check within once a quarter. (Leave a review while you’re there so we can be a 2022 Top Rated Nonprofit!)
  • We are a verified charity with the National Christian Foundation (NCF). We’ve received one donation through them, and it was a check delivered fairly quickly. They take no fees.

THE BOTTOM LINE – we’ll take money however you want to give it to us! 😀

Thank you for your support!

Webele nyo,

Jennings

PS Make sure to follow us on social media for the latest updates!

How a Farm Will Let Us Lean Into the Wind

Every week day, Mama Santa makes lunch for about 75 teens and adults, with another dozen or so children. The lunch above was on the day we went to the market for fresh groceries, so we go the added treat of eggplant, carrots, and avocado. Most days, we just had beans (made with a little onion and tomato) and posho or rice.

Posho is the least expensive carbohydrate available in Uganda — it’s finely ground maize mixed with water and cooked firm, or else mixed with water or milk and a little sugar for a porridge. On its own, it doesn’t taste like much, but it’s filling and good with beans. However, eating nothing but this day in and day out is not a recipe for optimal health!

For an increasing number of our day students, this is the only meal they get each day. There is no food at home.

Even before the daily price increases of the last 6 weeks, we had decided that we needed a self-sufficient solution for the growing food issues. We’ve spent a few months researching and pricing everything from laying hens to concrete posts to acreage, and will be launching our new farm project on DonorSee on Monday.

This is our biggest project to date, and our second “large” project on DonorSee. We have our computer lab thanks to our first, and we are even more excited about the farm.

Not only will we be able to provide vegetables and fruits, protein from eggs and moringa, and grind maize on site, we will be able to take any girls interested in learning about farming and agriculture out to work the land. While many of our teens’ families came from rural villages, our girls haven’t learned the skills that their parents and grandparents knew — and they are excited to learn!

Monday, you’ll get an email with the project link. For now, you can click the button below to get a preview of our project video. We need the project to be 10% funded from our own donors before DonorSee releases it to the wider platform, so we’d love for you to spend some time over the weekend watching the video, looking at our social media, and committing to a donation for Monday. Any amount will help us, and 100% goes to the project!

Farm Project Video Here!

Webele nyo!

Jennings

PS We were a Great Nonprofits Top Rated Nonprofit for 2021, which brought in a good number of donations through their site. We have til October 31st to get 10 new 4 or 5 star reviews to continue our status for 2022. We’d love for you to pop over there and leave us a review – it doesn’t take long! Click the button!

Yes, I’ll leave a 5* review!

There’s a Growing Food Crisis In Uganda

Just like everywhere these days, food prices have gone crazy in Uganda. While somewhat lucky in that it only gets 60% of its wheat from Russia and Ukraine (vs 100% for many African countries), it also usually gets a lot of the remaining supply from India, which has cut off wheat exports due to their own problems.

Additionally, fuel has doubled in the last several months, so that per gallon it’s now over $7.30. (They sell by the liter and it’s always more than here in the States, but this is brutal!) Obviously this effects the price of everything!

Finally, seasonality + fuel prices + supply chain problems have created a huge food crisis in the country, and particularly among the poorest — which is who we work with.

Our own food budget at the compound has doubled since January — and we’re even buying less food! Some things are completely off the menu, like chapati, and serving sizes have been reduced a bit to try to stretch the budget.

After a lot of talk, we have decided to create a large project on DonorSee to purchase 2-3 acres of land to start a small farm. Not only will this give us a sustainable source of food, it will also allow any girls who want to learn to grow food the chance to get new skills. (There’s not a lot of farming in a slum of 30,000 people!)

The project will launch next week! We’re still finalizing some prices, since everything seems to go up every day, and working on a video to show just what this project can achieve. We hope you’ll check it out once we launch, and help us continue our goals of sustainability and teaching lifetime skills to our teen moms.

Webele nyo!

Jennings

PS To donate to the farm project, click the button!

We Got Fired – From Serving Food!

Yesterday morning, we left Kampala at 7am and drove straight through to Mbarara. It was a 4 1/2 hour drive west, and, after we got out of Kampala traffic, was pretty easy.

We went straight to Hopeland Primary School, where we toured all the classrooms and then did the devotions gathering with all the students and staff. the kids sang, Ronald taught a lesson, and we presented them with a new soccer ball and volley ball.

Then it was lunchtime, and Ronald and I were roped into serving. I’m not sure why serving matoke and beans was so difficult! hahaha But somehow, we got fired from the job — no kids starved, fortunately, as the others kept the line going. (If it had been up to us, they might have finished around dinner time!)

After lunch and checking in the hotel, we walked up the road to the soccer pitch that a local high school allows the school to use. Those kids PLAYED! (As did Ronald and William!) The girls took the volley ball to play one game, the boys took the soccer ball for another, and the small kids took an older ball and played their own. They ran and ran and ran… and it was HOT! But they had a total blast, and it was great to watch them.

Today, we will head out to Rwakobo Village and Wells of Hope Primary School. We had hoped to spend time tomorrow, which is Martyr’s Day and a national holiday, around the village, but Gideon’s wife Winnie is in the hospital and they may have to go to Kampala tomorrow. (Prayers please!)

We will spend the morning with the kids at Wells and filming some new projects for DonorSee. We’ve got a BIG, exciting project coming up in a couple of weeks, which we’ll be shooting footage for, as well as a new ecobrick water tank project for Hopeland School.

I’ll be home in a week – that’s hard to believe! Thank you so much for your support while I’ve been here. We’ve funded quite a few projects and gotten a few new monthly donors, too. We’re so grateful for your partnership!

Blessings,

Jennings

PS If you’d like to become a monthly donor, click the link! Even a small monthly donation helps so much – and 100% goes to the work, so you are making a huge difference. Webele nyo!

COUNT ME IN!

Inflation Hits the Slum Hard

Just before I sat down to write this, Ronald sent me today’s quote from President Museveni on the food crisis happening in Uganda right now:

“Africans really confuse themselves… If there is no bread, eat cassava. I don’t eat bread myself. The issue of skyrocketing commodity prices, like petrol and fertilizers, is man-made by our friends in Europe.”

That was it. Don’t eat bread. (For what it’s worth, most Ugandans never eat bread. They do make chapati from wheat flour, though.)

So anyway…

Our food budget in January of this year, which included other items like office stationery and detergent, was about 4 million shillings, or $1100. For May, it’s 4,480,000sh for just the food, and another 1.3 million for the supplies, soap, detergent, and toiletries. That’s $1585. Nearly a 50% increase.

We do have a project up on DonorSee to help with some of this cost, and we’re working on some other ways to increase fundraising around food costs. One thing we AREN’T doing is not feeding our girls, their kids, and our staff.

If you’d like to help, there are buttons at the bottom of this email where you can either give a one-time donation to the DonorSee project or become a monthly donor in any amount to help us with our ongoing costs. We’d so appreciate your support!

I am also attaching a link to a new video that Bob Ditty’s assistant helped us make from the footage they shot in March at our compound and in the community. It’s really great! Click this button. (Yeah, I know there are a lot of buttons today… Sorry about that!)

Let me see the new video!

Thank you so much for your ongoing support! I know things are challenging everywhere right now, and that you have a lot of places you could invest your money. We really appreciate that you choose to invest in the future of teen moms and girls in the Namuwongo slum. Webele nyo!

Blessings,

Jennings

Take me to the DonorSee food project!

I want to be a monthly donor!

NEEDED: FOOD FOR OUR KIDS!

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!

Blessings,

Jennings

GOOD NEWS AMIDST THE CONTINUING LOCKDOWN

We’re at day 44, between the first partial shutdown, and the total lockdown. We’ve got about 10 days to go – in theory – but no one actually expects the lockdown to be lifted or even eased. FOOD INSECURITY and starvation continue to be the #1 issue throughout the country and our programs.

BUT THERE IS SOME GOOD NEWS, TOO!

  • Gideon, Director of Hopeland and Wells of Hope Primary Schools, welcomed his first child on Saturday. Wife Winnie and baby Nathaniel are doing great!
  • We’ve had local donations of food from businesses like Xara Ranch and Lekker Bakery, as well as from expats who have heard about our work and want to help. This is making a big impact!
  • The Suubi House is open and running smoothly. Gertrude, the caretaker, reports that the girls and their babies are adapting wonderfully. They are all still eating, bathing, and doing laundry at the Ross House — only a 5 min walk away.
  • We are able to keep the girls from Skills for Life who have been struggling with mental health issues busy with the Ndoto co-op and outreaches into the community. They are also receiving food for their families, which is relieving the burden there and minimizing the type of atmosphere that leads to child bride practices or other behaviors leading to teenage pregnancy.
  • ALL of the Primary 7 students from Hopeland School passed the National Leaving Exam in March, thanks to your donations that allowed us to hire teachers, provide transportation, and create home-study materials for them during the 15 month school closures.
Gloria, 16, has come SO far in her 4 months at the Ross House! She is now the “senior”, and is ready and willing to help new emergency admissions in the coming weeks.

IT’S BEEN A DIFFICULT TIME, BUT THANKS TO OUR WONDERFUL DONORS AND SUPPORTERS, WE ARE STILL ABLE TO SERVE THE MOST VULNERABLE IN UGANDA.

THANK YOU!

To help vulnerable children and teens, you can donate here! 100% of your donation goes to the work – we can’t do it without you!

FOOD INSECURITY DRIVES EVERYTHING

For the last week, we’ve been posting photos on social media that don’t include faces. Since we love our beautiful girls, we’ve gotten some questions as to why we stopped showing them.

One word: SAFETY

With the imposition of the total lockdown a couple of weeks ago, the government has made the slum a dystopian nightmare of roving gangs robbing and even killing for food.

People are choosing between rent and food if they do have any money, and starving beats being homeless – so they are starving.

Even one meal of porridge a day seems like a luxury. People are showing up at our gate regularly who haven’t eaten in days, and the last thing they ate was a thin posho (ground maize) gruel.

ONE OF THE HARDEST FACTS WE FACE IS THAT WE CAN’T HELP EVERYONE.

We started our Adopt a Girl (AAG) program to provide food to those in our program who are the most at risk of being sold as a “bride;” or of voluntary or forced prostitution. Even within our program, we can’t provide food for everyone… But we CAN remove the single biggest factor for teen “marriage” and pregnancy at the moment, and that’s FOOD INSECURITY.

FOR $50, WE CAN FEED A FAMILY OF 5 FOR A MONTH. WILL YOU HELP?

AS ALWAYS, 100% OF YOUR DONATION GOES TO THE PROGRAM! THANK YOU FOR SUPPORTING THESE VULNERABLE TEEN GIRLS.

WHY THE GATE MONTHLY GIVING PROGRAM?

THIS WEEK WE LAUNCHED THE GATE – FOR A REALLY GOOD REASON!

Uganda is a developing country with the world’s youngest population. Unemployment numbers are a joke* — even young people with university degrees can’t find paying jobs and usually “intern” (work for free, even for the government) for years before possibly getting a paying job.

In our programs, we are dealing with the extreme poor, the uneducated, the orphaned or abandoned, the homeless. Unemployment, other than informal self-employment, is literally 100%.

So outside of our regular budget, we have regular problems come up, like three babies in two weeks getting pneumonia. Transport to the clinic or hospital, medical treatment, daily transport for IV antibiotics… All that adds up. And while it’s very small compared to US standards, our budget is pretty small too!

By joining our passionate supporters together in the Gate, WE get a stable revenue flow, and YOU get to really see the IMPACT of your donations on a monthly basis. We want you to know exactly what your money is doing, who it is benefitting, and how we go about our work.

By joining the Gate, you get:

  • Monthly updates with behind the scenes information, stories and photos
  • Quarterly LIVE video meetings with our US and UG staff where you can ask any questions and get to know us
  • For the first 100 members, you’ll become part of our Founding SUUBI ALLIANCE with extra perks

Nothing changes on your end — you choose your monthly donation and set it up on Donorbox. But you get all the access above so you get to know the people whose lives you are changing and be part of our life-changing community!

JOIN THESE SMILING FACES!

CHECK OUT THIS VIDEO WITH ALL OUR PROGRAMS – WE’D LOVE TO HAVE YOU JOIN US IN CHANGING LIVES TODAY!

*Unemployment numbers for Uganda are all over the place, depending on who is reporting it. Government numbers can be as low as 1.84% (an absolute farce which anyone who has ever been to Uganda knows), to as high as 80% – a much more likely number. The truth is, MANY millions of Uganda’s 43 million population have no employment, no way to gain employment, and no safety net to help them.