PS Emergency admissions and residential girls like Brenda cost us $50 a month to care for. Please donate today to help us care for the eight teen moms and their babies who are in residence! 100% of your donation goes to the program. Mwebele nnyo!
This week we welcomed 17-year-old Alice and her newborn baby (no name as yet!) into our residential program as emergency admissions. Alice had been given her final eviction notice by her landlord, who didn’t care a bit that she’d just had a c-section.
Earlier this year, Alice fled the conflict in the Congo because a Congolese man living in Uganda told her he could get her a job as a housemaid. She made her way to him in Namuwongo, where — surprise! — there was no job. Instead, he kept her with him, abused her, and got her pregnant.
A week before she delivered, he left to go shopping and never returned.
Alice doesn’t speak any local languages, and had to make her own way to the public hospital when she went into labor. There, she delivered by c-section and was released the next day. She took herself home, where there was no money or food.
After a week, she reached out to a lady who had helped her with food a couple of times. The lady is a women’s leader in the community and knows about our work at Touch the Slum. Fortunately, she called the office right away to let the staff know she was bringing Alice to the compound.
After the interview, Sarah returned to Alice’s home to pack up her meager belongings before the landlord returned to kick her out. She’s now settled into the Ross House, and the baby is being treated for malaria by Nurse Brenda. With food and clean water, Alice is able to nurse again, and they are resting and recovering.
This is, unfortunately, an all too common story.
Teen girls are at the bottom of the social ladder, used, abused, disposable once they get pregnant. Thousands of babies are unclaimed by a father, and there is no governmental or societal pressure to provide for them.
But thanks to YOU and your support, we had room to bring Alice and the baby in. We can feed her, give them clean clothes, provide diapers for the baby, give them medical care, and Mama Santa can teach her to care for her newborn.
You are (truly!) lifesavers, and we can’t thank you enough.
PS We have a project up to fund the cost of Alice’s entry package, which included a mattress and bedding, clothes, and personal supplies, as well as things for the baby. If you’d like to contribute, just click below!
After her father passed away, Harriet moved to the Namuwongo slum to live with her mother in a teeny tiny home. Her mother didn’t make enough to meet their basic needs, so Harriet “got a boyfriend” who could help provide some of the necessities of life, such as food and sanitary pads.
After she found out she was pregnant, the boy fled. Our social worker Sarah found Harriet in a squalid, bedbug infested, teeny tiny home with a one-week old baby who wasn’t thriving.
Harriet and the baby moved into the Ross House, and she moved through Literacy, Basic, and Advanced Tailoring. She is now running her own small tailoring business in the family’s home village.
This is her story.
It’s your support and encouragement that keep Touch the Slum open and providing such critical care and services to vulnerable teen girls in the slum. We so appreciate all you do for Ten Eighteen and Touch the Slum!
PS Just $35 pays for a month for a teen girl at Touch the Slum! 100% of your donation goes to the program, always. To give today, just click the button!
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.
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.
Kalunji, above on the left, has died. I think I shared recently that she had reunited with her brother and made the decision to return to her family village with him. She’s only been gone a few weeks.
But about 20 minutes ago, Ronald got word that she has died of a liver infection. (We’re trying to get the medical papers now.)
I’m really speechless… Kalunji came to us when she was 15 and four months pregnant. Initially she was living with her elderly jaja, but when the jaja passed on, she moved in with us. She was in our first Literacy class in 2022, then went on to Hairdressing. She had her baby, Rahim, with us, with Nurse Sherry helping her get to a private hospital. She had a brilliant smile.
We are all devastated, of course. I’d appreciate your thoughts and prayers for the girls and staff at Touch the Slum, as well as for Rahim and other family members.
Harriet came to live with us last year when she was 16 years old, with a one week old baby. Her mother was sick, the family had no food, and things were desperate.
Having never been to school, Harriet joined Literacy, then went on to Tailoring. She graduated from Basic Tailoring when we were there in April and is now in Advanced Tailoring – here she’s learning to use an interlocking machine. She’s quiet but smart and focused and happy, and doing really well.
But now her mother is making her leave.
Her mother has decided to return to her village with Harriet and her siblings, so that Harriet can support the family with tailoring. (Reminder, Harriet is now just 17 years old and not finished with her training…)
These are the situations that are so discouraging for me and for the team. As a mom in the West, I can’t imagine making my child leave an opportunity to take care of me. For the team, who sees what happens to these girls in villages, they worry for Harriet’s future health and safety.
And you know what? There’s nothing we can do about it. That sucks.
Damalie and Sarah spent a long time yesterday talking to Harriet, and she said she has no choice but to do what her mother is asking of her. Legally, it’s a little grey, but in their culture, it’s unambiguous. Harriet will, at 17, become responsible for feeding, housing, and clothing five other people.
So what do we do now?
We are putting together a video for DonorSee to get Harriet a non-electric sewing machine and basic supplies. She will also take her mattress with her, and the clothing and other items she’s been given in the year since she arrived. We normally do a “exit package” that include food and household goods, but we feel the machine is the most important thing.
Please check our Instagram and DonorSee pages tomorrow for this project. We’d appreciate your help and, if possible, your sharing it so we can send Harriet off with hope for her future.
The Friday we were in the west, we were supposed to go to Rwakobo Village and do a walking tour of the several surrounding miles. This village is the poorest I’ve ever seen in Uganda, and is where Wells of Hope Primary School is located.
The best laid plans do go awry, and it POURED down rain that morning. The unanimous decision was to cancel the time at the village and go on to the lodge to start our “safari weekend” early. Cold rain, terrible roads, and herds of cattle trying to keep their feet out of the mud by standing on any hills in the roads made the drive take twice as long.
Then we came to a herd that just would not move. They stared at us, those huge Ankole horns pointed our way, and then William saw why: there was a small puppy in the middle of the road!
The puppy was huddled up and crying and very young, its eyes barely open, and there was no way I was leaving it. I hopped out of the car in the rain and the cows let me pass. I picked up the puppy but heard more crying – and there were two more in the ditch, completely soaked and shivering. Soon all three were in the car and they quickly found the warmest spot! And the cows parted for us to pass.
Even in a culture where dogs aren’t “man’s best friend,” the staff at the lodge jumped into action, started making phone calls, and found the owner of the puppies. Everyone thanked us for rescuing them. And of course we did — no one could have left them there to die of exposure.
Every day at Touch the Slum we rescue girls who are dying of exposure – exposure to exploitation, to malnutrition, to neglect.
Thanks to you, we can offer them a warm place, safety, food, reconnection with lost family, training and education, and — most importantly — HOPE.
We can’t thank you enough! Mwebele nnyo!
PS Our clinic restock project on DonorSee is 78% funded and we just need $85 to complete it! We’d love your help to make sure we have the medication and supplies Nurse Sherry needs to keep our population healthy. Click below!
Sylvia is a 16-year-old mom of one son who lives at the Ross House. She came to us when she was four months pregnant and homeless. She’s worked very hard to become literate over the past 6 months, and will be learning a vocational skill in Skill for Life starting next term.
“I am smart” is not something she ever thought.
She’d never been to school. She’d never been cherished or complimented or taken care of.
But now, that was the sign she chose. We had others for International Women’s Day: I am Brave. I am Powerful. I am Worthy. I am Strong. The girls got to pick the one they wanted to have in their photo.
Sylvia chose I am Smart to describe herself, and that makes me incredibly proud (and a bit teary-eyed!).
For International Women’s Day (which is today as I’m writing, yesterday when you’re reading), I hope you’ll take a minute to check out our Instagram page (link at the bottom) and see the videos of these amazing young women taking charge of their own lives, determining their own destiny, claiming their own strengths.
Teen girls in Uganda are at the bottom of the social ladder, but slowly by slowly (mpolo mpola) we are changing that culture.
THANK YOU for making it possible!
PS We launched the ecobrick water tank project on DonorSee last week and just need $130 to get to 10% so it can be visible to the entire DonorSee audience. We’d love your help – just click below!
As an only child, I didn’t get to experience sisterhood. When I had my kids, my grandmother was there to help (and yell at doctors, but that’s another story). I never really minded not having a sister, although I did dream of having an identical twin so we could alternate school days… 😀
Most of our residential teen moms, like Kalunji and Leticia above, are either orphans or estranged from their families. They came to us totally alone, homeless, and either pregnant (Kalunji) or sick (Leticia). No one has prepared them to be a mom.
But at the Ross and Suubi Houses, we have girls in all stages of “new mom.” We have girls aged 15 to 19 in residence now — there’s a big difference in those ages, and it’s great to have older girls who can help the younger ones.
Mama Santa has been in the same situation our residential girls find themselves in. She had Ronald when she was just 14! As our House Mother and Cook she brings invaluable experience, empathy, knowledge, and a touch of “buck up” to our residential program. We all need all of those things!
Our residential program is completely donor supported. It costs us about $50/month for each teen mom and her child, and some of the girls are with us for 18 months. If you want to become a sponsor of our residential program, you can do it quickly and easily on DonorSee – just click the button! 100% of donations go to the program, so you are making a huge impact every single day.