I hope your Thanksgiving was filled with family, friends, fun, and zero-calorie food! Jackline and the teen moms in the Ross and Suubi Houses celebrated too, just not with turkey. (There actually are turkeys in Uganda, but trust me, you wouldn’t want to eat them!)
Giving Tuesday is coming up and we’ve got a matching grant! This is the kickoff to Giving Season and a great time for you to make your year-end donation to Ten Eighteen – especially since your money will be doubled up to $5,000! You can also choose to become a monthly donor through DonorBox or a monthly sponsor for a project on DonorSee. (As I used to say when I had my bakery, I’ll take everything but wampum!)
2022 has been a HUGE year for Touch the Slum. Thanks to you we are now housing 12 teens and their children, we have 65-75 students at the compound daily, and we are growing all kinds of things at our farm. In our wildest dreams, we wouldn’t have thought that you would get us this far this fast.
Yesterday, what we were most thankful for was you.
Your support is truly astonishing!
PS If you’re not already following us on Instagram, it’s a great way to see your support in action. We post videos every day! You don’t have to have the app or have an account – you can just visit on the web and check it out.
Back before the social media days — and yes, there were days before social media! — there used to be a lot of talk about networking. In my (few) months of a misguided attempt to be a Real Estate Agent in the ’80s, it was alllll about networking.
Now days, I think we just assume everyone is connected all the time. And we are, in some ways… But are we really sharing the important stuff or just enjoying cat memes? (I love a good cat meme!)
With the Season of Giving upon us, I’d like to ask you a favor.
Would you “network” the old-fashioned way for us for just a few minutes? Could you:
Forward one of our emails to friends and family with a “Hey, I support this great work in Uganda and think you’d be interested?”
Like, Comment, and Share some of our social media posts, especially around Giving Tuesday next week? (buttons below)
Head to our Bonfire shop and grab a shirt or bag — then tell a few people about us when you wear it?
Word of mouth is THE most valuable tool in growing our work in the Namuwongo slum. There’s a lot of noise in the world these days, and your recommendation helps us cut through that.
We are so thankful for your support and encouragement! You’ve made 2022 such an incredible and impactful year for our girls at Touch the Slum. We can’t do it without YOU!
PS Cecilia is getting ready to move out on her own after over a year in our residential program. She’s in charge of our daycare and is going to continue that work plus keep her own small business. We’ve got a project up on DonorSee to bless her with an exit package (mattress, sheets, some household food, and food). If you can contribute $20 that would help her so much! Click the button!
When she was kicked out of the local councilwoman’s house, 15-year-old Sylvia thought she would be left on the streets to have her baby.
The LC had found her near her office, homeless and 4 months pregnant, and taken her in. But her husband didn’t want Sylvia around. Fortunately, the LC is familiar with our program and brought Sylvia to Touch the Slum, where she has lived for the past 6 months.
Sylvia is the newest teen mom living at the Ross House, having given birth just last month. She came to us with nothing but the clothes on her back, but now she and the baby are safe, cared for, well fed, and Sylvia has done really well in Literacy class.
Teen moms in the slum live on a razor’s edge, with disaster always right around the corner. The Ross House is a residential program for teen moms in crisis, just like Sylvia. It is an entry point into Touch the Slum, where teen girls receive emergency medical care, food, clothing, lodging, and vocational training.
We don’t know when disaster will strike a teen mom, but you can help us be ready! Your donation of $50 can pay for a month of crisis care at the Ross House. Click the button below!
PS Make your year end donation today to give a safe harbor and a new start to girls like Sylvia!
When we started the Ross House in the fall of 2020, we put some parameters in place. We knew that the need for a crisis intervention residential program was far greater than anything we’d be able to “solve”, and we knew that we needed time to figure it all out.
Some of the criteria we’ve used over the past two years have been the mom’s age (usually 15 or above), no family members available to take them in (with added support from us), and a differentiation between a short-term emergency admission and a long-term full admission.
We also decided we couldn’t handle pregnant girls, and referred them to another local organization called Amani until after they delivered.
But things change!
Our first pregnant admission was 15-year-old Kalunji back in February, who was homeless after her grandmother died. Due to the rising rate of teenage pregnancy, Amani wasn’t able to take her in. Kalunji is still with us in the Suubi House and she’s doing great.
Our next was 15-year-old Sylvia, who was homeless and rescued by a local LC (community leader) and brought to us. Sylvia gave birth just a few weeks ago!
In the last month, we’ve also welcomed 17-year-old Leticia and her one-year-old son Chin-may, and 15-year-old Brenda with her newborn son Elijah. (We now have custody of Brenda because of the abuse she was suffering at home.)
And – many of you will remember “the girl in the chicken coop” story from my trip this summer – 18-year-old Clare with her one-year-old son Samuel was just evicted from the chicken coop and has now joined the residential program.
That’s four moms, two with newborns, in just a few weeks!
Because of the skyrocketing cost of living right now, teenage pregnancy is on the rise again all around Uganda. We can only take in eight girls with their children at a time, but we are committed to helping them learn the skills they need to create a fulfilling and sustainable life for themselves.
How are we doing this? YOU!
Your support means the difference between homelessness and a life without choices and a life of literacy, a skill for a lifetime of income, and the hope for a good future. We really can’t thank you enough for all your encouragement and support!
PS One of our Skills for Life students is teen mom Isabellah. After she collapsed at the compound, Nurse Sherry discovered that she had no food over the weekends and her only meals were those she received at Touch the Slum during the week. We have been providing ongoing medical support to get her over malnutrition and she is now receiving meals at the compound during the weekend. Her project on DonorSee is about 30% funded and we only need $185 to complete it. Any amount will help! Just click!
I woke up to the good news and wanted to give you a quick update –
It’s a boy!
Sylvia went into labor yesterday evening, and the baby boy was delivered this morning. They’re both fine, and hopefully one of our team will be allowed in the hospital soon. Since minor surgery was involved she’ll be there for a few days – I’ll update you when I know more.
Sylvia’s labor stopped and the hospital sent her back to the Ross House with “exercises and advice to walk” to induce labor. She’s one week overdue now, according to estimates, and they’d rather the baby not get bigger.
We’ll keep you posted!
PS We do have a project up for the birthing kit we have to provide for all the pregnant girls to take with them to the hospital. It’s 22% funded (but 100% already paid for!) so we’d love for you to consider a $25 donation.
Sylvia, right in front of me in the striped skirt and top, is in labor. She was still 15 when I was in Uganda in June – very young!
Nurse Sherry took her to Amani, which is a charitable organization that helps teen mothers and will do deliveries if it isn’t high risk. Unfortunately, they have referred her to a hospital because her age and physical development mean she may not be able to deliver naturally.
They’re on their way to Naguru Hospital as I type this… Of course, everyone is a little concerned for both Sylvia and the baby.
We’d appreciate your thoughts and prayers today for a safe delivery for both, and, if she needs a c-section, for a skilled doctor to be on shift.
Brenda, above, is just barely 16. (I know, she looks about 12…) She was admitted in the middle of the night when the local authorities brought her to us with her ONE WEEK OLD baby.
Brenda has been living with her mother, who recently lost her job. On Saturday night, she beat Brenda severely and threw her and the baby out of the house and into the street.
Fortunately, we have a very good relationship with the police and local governmental authorities and they brought her to Touch the Slum. She is now living in the Ross House and receiving food, clothing, medical care by Nurse Sherry, and lots of love and attention from Mama Santa.
I’d love to say this kind of thing is uncommon.
Unfortunately, it isn’t, and the very high inflation and cost of food has caused an increase in domestic violence, child abuse, and teenage pregnancy in the slum.
We are the only program of our kind in Namuwongo, which is home to over 30,000 people. Fortunately, we had room to take in Brenda and another 16-year-old, Leticia, over the last week. And that’s because of YOU.
Your dollars are working 24/7 to keep girls like Brenda safe and to provide them a way out of this cycle of pregnancy and homelessness.
We are so grateful that you choose to partner with us so that we don’t have to turn these girls away. Webele nyo!
PS Of course we have projects up on DonorSee for Brenda and for Leticia! When girls like this come to us, they literally have the clothes on their backs and nothing else, so we provide an entry packet with toiletries, sheets and towels, clothes and shoes, diapers, and other items for the baby. We’d love for you to help support one of these girls as they get back on their feet!
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!