One Week Down – How It’s Going in Uganda

Happy Memorial Weekend from Uganda! I hope it’s as beautiful where you are as it is here today. I’ve been reading and sketching outside all day, and enjoying my day off… it’s been wonderful!

I’ve sent a couple of other updates, so here’s how the end of the week went:

  • I led a 5 hour retreat/workshop with all but 2 of our staff yesterday. (I’ll meet with Mr. Aziz and Mama Santa separately about facility issues.) It was a new experience for most of them, but we had a fun and productive time of games, discussion, problem solving, and laughter. Oh, and chicken and chips, of course!
  • Friday was both the Strong Minds group and Teen Talk. I didn’t know I was speaking at Strong Minds until I was introduced (!), but we had a good session on self-worth. Many of our girls are called “prostitutes” or “worthless” because of their past, but that’s not who they are now. They are learning to change their self-perception and it’s beautiful! (The baby at the top is one of the teen mom’s girls.)
  • We had a (probably temporary) emergency admission on Saturday, a late-teen (she’s not sure of her exact age) with a one year old daughter. Both were very malnourished. Esther had been referred by a European woman who found her sleeping in front of a church. Nurse Sherry discovered she is pregnant again, and that her “husband” has been violent and abusive towards her. We will be in the community tomorrow trying to locate her auntie; in the meantime she’s staying temporarily in the dorm.

We’ve got a busy 2 days ahead, then on Wednesday we leave at 7am to travel 4ish hours west to Lake Mburo and Wells of Hope Primary School. We’ll be out that way until Sunday — more to come on that part of the trip!

Thank you all so much for your encouragement and support!



Big Day In the Namuwongo Slum

Tuesday was “day 1”, and I had a short office day as I fought sleep deprivation and a 7 hour time difference.

I slept well, and Wednesday was a full and busy day. In the morning, we went down into the Namuwongo slum and visited about a half dozen families/guardians of Skills for Life students to see how they felt their girls were doing. The feedback was amazing!

Without exception, they had seen positive changes in their girls. Better behavior. Less hanging about with questionable friends and getting into trouble. More respect at home.


Traditionally, parents want their kids to go to school and become one of four things: teacher, doctor, lawyer, or nurse.

There is no room in the traditional thinking for musicians or artists, for mechanics or electricians. The way Ugandan schools are set up, to even go to a trade school you have to complete Senior 4.

This leaves most kids behind, especially since the covid lockdowns.

But parents are SEEING now. They see that girls with little or no schooling can still be excellent students in a vocational program.

They see that girls who had no direction or HOPE for the future were headed for disaster, but that those same girls are now focused, working hard, and setting themselves up for future success.


But it’s working. And THAT is changing the culture, slowly by slowly. (mpola mpolo)

THANK YOU for your support and encouragement! YOU are changing not only the lives of the girls in our program, but the hearts and minds of the community. That is a huge step forward.

Webele nyo!


PS Our food restocking project on DonorSee is 84% funded. Prices are going up every day, so we’d really appreciate your support to complete it! Click the link!


“Choice Greetings From Uganda!”

You know you’re in Uganda when there’s a tree growing through your room! To be honest, by the time I got to the Kampala Forest Resort (one of my favorite places to stay anywhere!) at 1:30am, I didn’t pay the tree that much attention. It had been a VERY long, frustrating day of bad weather, flight delays, and the “new normal” of travel (which doesn’t have much to recommend it). But waking up to the tree, and coming out for COFFEE and breakfast and seeing Lake Victoria in the distance were worth it.

I’m not heading to the compound until 12:30, and it’ll be a fairly short day. But I have ALL THE GOODIES that I was able to bring from donations over the past 2 years:

  • a tactical laptop
  • iPad Mini
  • iPhone 11 ProMax
  • 2 suitcases full of baby clothes
  • 1 suitcase full of women’s clothes
  • 66 sets of reusable sanitary pads
  • a full bin of disposable sanitary pads
  • medical equipment from MDS
  • books, toys, and games

In short, it’s going to be an *amazing* Christmas-in-May!

When my son and I were here last, Touch the Slum was working out of a cramped 2-room office in the slum.

Now we have a full compound, 12 resident girls, 60 students, 18 staff, and 30+ babies and children every day. To say that’s a big change in the last 2 years is an understatement, and it’s all thanks to YOU and your support.

I’ll be adding a 3rd weekly email for the 2 1/2 weeks I’m gone, since the schedule is full and I want you to see all that we’re doing.

Webele nyo!


Off To Uganda – Finally!


My son, Zeke, and I went to Uganda in January 2020, returning on February 8th. Little did we know that the world was going to go mad soon after!

But finally, I am headed back — on SUNDAY.

Since I was there last, we have built a complete program from the ground up: the Ross House for teen moms in crisis, the Suubi House for teen moms transitioning to independent living, Skills for Life vocational school, Teen Talk, Turning Point, an on-site clinic, a free daycare, and more.

In 2021 we grew 70%. SEVENTY PERCENT!

Since 2009, I have often been asked about the WHY of going to Uganda:

WHY do you go when you could spend that money on the programs?

WHY do you go when a two or three week trip “doesn’t accomplish that much?”

WHY do you go when [insert “there’s no power” or “there’s no internet” or “you spend so much time driving on terrible roads”]?

Well, why do you get together with your family at the holidays, or go across the country to visit your best friend?

There are just things that happen when you are together, in person, sharing a meal or a laugh, enjoying a sunset, or simply sitting and watching children play that CANNOT happen otherwise.

It’s connection. Community. Relationship. Family.

So FINALLY, I am leaving on Sunday. I’ll be in Kampala working with our Namuwongo project for about 10 days, then heading west to visit our schools in Mbarara and Rwakobo. I’ll be taking Ronald on his first-ever safari (our “one fun thing”), then spending another three days in Namuwongo.

It’ll be BUSY. I’m leading a full day retreat, meeting with staff to do trainings on various things like learning styles and working with learning disabilities, meeting with the local Rotary club to establish ties with our wonderful Olde Towne Beaufort Rotary who has been so very generous to us over the last couple of years. And yes, I know enough to take a bit of time off.

I AM SO EXCITED! Uganda is my heart-home, to be honest. I may never live there full time, but my heart is always longing for it. You’ll see why in the photos I share.

Make sure to follow us on Facebook, Instagram, and now Twitter. I’ll also write our twice-a-week newsletters as long as I have power and internet.

More soon!

Webele nyo!


PS To become a regular, monthly supporter, click the link! 100% goes to the program!


What’s My Uganda Trip Itinerary?

The last time I went to Uganda was January 2020, before the world fell apart. At the time of that visit, I’d been re-starting Ten Eighteen after a several-year hiatus, and our entire project consisted of

  • Providing food for Hopeland Primary School and the Arise Africa Babies Home
  • Funding a soap-making vocational project for teen girls in Namuwongo
  • Consulting on the teenage pregnancy problem

That’s it.

In the two years since, we’ve created the Skills for Life vocational and Ross/Suubi House residential programs; provided well over 300,000 meals; started a free daycare and free clinic; built an eco-brick water tank at Wells of Hope Primary School in Lake Mburo National Park; and grown from zero to 18 paid Ugandan staff.

So… There’s a lot of talk about!

Currently on the agenda for my trip:

  • A full day staff retreat, geared towards problem solving, team building, communication, and growth strategies
  • Several days of training with the Literacy Class teachers to discuss learning styles, learning disability assessment, and teaching modalities that are different than the Ugandan system
  • Formalizing the Digital Literacy curriculum to ensure competency in day-to-day use of needed computer skills
  • Speaking at the various group meetings during the week, such as Strong Minds, Teen Talk, and Turning Point
  • Visiting the families of participants in Skills for Life and our residential program to assess the home-life conditions of the girls in the program
  • Visiting Western Uganda to spend a day each at Hopeland Primary and Wells of Hope Primary Schools where we provide food


I’m also taking some of the mountain of stuff that’s been donated to us over the last two years. I can’t take it all in one trip, but I’ll be going through and taking the most needed items: clothes, shoes, electronics, medical equipment, books, games, and toys. THANK YOU ALL for your donations — I’ll have photos galore once the items are distributed!

Sometimes I get asked WHY I go to Uganda, with the accompanying expense. The fact is, it matters that I am there, on the ground, getting to know the staff, the girls, representing YOU and YOUR donations, using my skill set of problem solving and “project” mentality to streamline and help make things run more smoothly.

In short, accountability, for all of us at Ten Eighteen Uganda and Touch the Slum.

Thank you for your continued support! If you’d like to help me pay for the extra luggage I’ll be taking, just click the button. Every $100 extra baggage fee will save us $500 or more — that’s huge!

Click Here!

Webele nyo!


Securing the Compound

When we opened the Ross House in November 2020, one of the first people we hired was Mr. Aziz, our security guard. He has done an AMAZING job keeping our girls and compound safe, but even he has limitations.

Every day, we have over 60 students, 18 staff and volunteers, 30 kids, and various deliveries and repairs going on. We also now have a room full of electric sewing machines and another room containing our computer lab (5 desktops and 5 laptops, a projector, and a printer). AND a fully stocked clinic.

It’s a LOT!

Now, we’re really proud of how we’ve been able to grow (thanks to YOU!). But we also want to steward the donations we’re given to the best of our abilities.

Last week, we installed a security monitoring system. At a cost of $325, we installed a complete system that Mr. Aziz can monitor — and there are no monthly fees.

That money came out of our general budget because we felt it was vital. We have a project up on DonorSee to reimburse our budget for it, and your donation of ANY amount makes a big difference. (While you’re over there on DonorSee, give us a Follow and/or a Review – that helps a lot, too!) Just click the button – it’s almost like magic!

More to come soon on my upcoming trip to Uganda!



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!



Let’s be honest, 2021 probably wasn’t anyone’s favorite year ever… but you stepped up for Ten Eighteen in a big way, and we can’t thank you enough!

Donations for 2021 were up a little over 70% from 2020 and that’s AMAZING.

We met not just our year-end giving goal, or our stretch year-end giving goal… you donated 20% more than even that!

We really can’t thank you enough!


Last fall I started using the term HOLISTIC LITERACY to try to describe what our Namuwongo Skills for Life program is about. It’s probably a little different for a teen girl living in the slum than it would be for someone in a developed country, so I want to explain both the what and the why.


Many of the girls in our residential and Skills for Life programs have never been to school. Of course, that means no reading, writing, and arithmetic, but in Uganda that also means no English.

Why? English is, after all, Uganda’s official language.

But there are 60+ tribal languages spoken in Uganda. The Namuwongo slum is like every other slum — a mix of displaced and desperate people who come to Kampala to try to have a better life. People tend to spend time with those of their own tribe and language. They do not speak English.

English is learned in school. In fact, it is actually illegal for schools to teach the tribal languages. They speak, read, and write in English.

BOTTOM LINE —> No school = no English

But there’s more to literacy (for us, at least!) than the three Rs and English. We add a meaningful vocational skill so girls have a lifetime of income potential.

If needed for immediate survival, we teach a smaller skill that can start bringing in some money right away.

We conduct health and hygiene workshops so girls — and boys — can physically take care of themselves.

We are adding a computer lab in 2022 to bring digital literacy and enable routine things like national ID card updates and job applications to be done by the girls themselves.

And we will begin using Neema Development’s Entrepreneur training this spring to bring basic business literacy to the girls.


If you read through that list again, these are things that you probably already know. You may not have been taught them, per se, but you picked it up along the way. You already live in a world of holistic literacy, and you use these skills every single day.

We believe the teen girls and teen moms in our program deserve that opportunity as well. They are smart, motivated, and hard-working, and they know the alternative. They are choosing a better life and doing what’s required every day!

THANK YOU for partnering with us as well change lives AND change the culture. If you want to make a donation, click the button – 100% goes to the programs!