When a Mzungu Makes Chapati


I drove down to Florida on Sunday to visit my mom and also for two speaking engagements: the Cocoa Rotary Club and to launch our Sister School program at St. Mark’s Academy.

Both were really fun, but the one that stressed me out was St. Mark’s. I usually talk to adults, plus a lot of what we work with is “mature audience” stuff like sexual trauma, early teenage pregnancies, girls being sold off as brides when they’re 13.

I had a fun video tour of the Hopeland campus, a powerpoint presentation on getting to know Uganda and Hopeland, and a dance video. (The dance video was actually the Muganda dance from the Buganda trip in the Kampala area, but I didn’t figure anyone would know that!) I took fabric, a mosquito net, a phone charger plug (since the plugs are so different), and a bunch of handcrafts. We made beans and chapati and I burned the posho.

And yes, I made those chapati from scratch!

Derrick, our former Liaison and friend who now lives in Boston responded to my Instagram post with “Oh no you did not!” Ronald said it was pretty good “mzungu chapati.” hahahaha yes – I’m laughing even now!

Long story short, the kids had a great time, almost everyone loved the food (and the teachers snuck back in for more!), and our pilot program now has wings of its own.

Do you need to know how to make chapati to feel a connection to Uganda? No – and be thankful, because they’re pretty labor intensive! (I’ll send the recipe to you if you want to know how to make them, just hit Reply.) But do you need a connection to care about the kids at our two schools or the girls at Touch the Slum? Yes.

The point of these newsletters isn’t “news.” It’s connection. People tell me they look forward to them every week, almost like a serial story from earlier days. It’s why we’re launching the Sister Schools program and why I post real video from everyday life on Instagram.


We can’t thank you enough for being part of our family!

Mwebele nnyo!

PS Sadly, Nurse Sherry is leaving us to go back to school. Today is her last day. Sherry has been an absolute rock — and rock star! — for over 1 1/2 years and we will miss her so much! We wish her the best in her new endeavors, and welcome Nurse Brenda, who Sherry helped us choose, to Touch the Slum. We have a project for restocking the clinic up on DonorSee that’s 46% funded, if you’d like to help. Just click below!

Clinic Restock

PSS I’m going to post the St Mark’s videos up on YouTube this weekend, and we have some other great videos there, so check those out!

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I Could Talk All Day…


Since our trip to Uganda in March/April, we’ve been working to launch our Sister School program. While I do (of course) hope to raise some money for Hopeland and Wells of Hope Primary Schools over time, my main focus is just on connections. A broadening of the world for kids that are 8,000 miles away from each other.

While we’re all so “connected” all the time, I think real connections might have gotten lost. I remember my pen pal in elementary school, patiently (or not!) waiting for a letter to arrive, and trying to use my best handwriting to send one back. I honestly don’t remember much about her — not her name or age or even what country she was in. But I remember that feeling of connection and how special it was.

We need that to feel empathy, to feel curiosity, to feel that people “over there” are real.

So we’re launching our Sister School program, connecting Hopeland Primary School with St. Mark’s Academy (which is my elementary school alma mater). With the wonders of the internet, kids won’t have to wait for the postal service to bring the much anticipated letters and drawings.

They can share photos and videos, too!

Both sides can learn natural history and geography and zoology — and mostly about each other and make new friends.

Think of me next Wednesday morning! I’ll be dressed in my traditional Ugandan dress. We’ll learn how to dance a traditional dance. I’ll show them Ugandan handcrafts and a video tour of Hopeland’s campus. We’re even bringing in some simple Ugandan food to share.

It should be fun!

I’ll also be speaking to a local Rotary Club on Tuesday, which is always great! If you would like to connect your group with our work in Uganda, just let me know. I can talk all day…!



PS Teen mom Harriet, who has lived in our residential program for about a year and a half, is preparing to move back to the village with her son, her mom, and siblings. We are planning to gift her a sewing machine and enough supplies to get her started in her own small business, and the project is 64% funded. If you’d like to help Harriet and her family as they start a new life, just click the button! Mwebele nnyo!

Help Harriet!

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When Cars Bread Down in Uganda


It’s a fair drive from Kampala to Mbarara, about 4 hours. It’s interesting, as you’re mostly on a good road going through village after village.

Each village has a unique character: in some, the vendors display their produce tossed willy nilly onto a tarp. In others, any produce remotely round is stacked into neat pyramids on the upturned bottoms of buckets or bins.

Some villages seem to be able to keep garbage in check and others are overrun with plastic bottles and other refuse.

All of them are bustling, full of people going about their daily lives, children walking to and from school in their uniforms, and goats nibbling anything and everything they can find.

I’ve found that most people have a vision of “Africa” that is one dimensional. Uganda, Africa, and your own country is full of color, contrast, hope, need, joy, wealth, poverty, chaos, and order. I work in areas and with people of great need, and that can make for a compelling photo op… But even in those areas, that’s not the whole story.

In the photo above, I was presented with an amazing gift: a drawing from a favorite photo of Kamida greeting me for the first time last year. Kamida is a special needs girl living at Hopeland School who has epilepsy. Epilepsy in Uganda, especially in villages, is still thought of as demon possession or mental illness and not a physical condition. It was left untreated in Kamida leading to brain injury, and her relatives tried to kill her once her parents had died so she is physically disabled.

For the last 2+ years we have provided Kamida with her epilepsy medication and sanitary pads each month. When she sees me (and now my mom), she runs and gives huge, tight hugs. It’s one of my favorite parts of each trip!

The car broke down when we were less than a mile from the hotel, and Ronald and William spent all afternoon and evening at the garage getting it fixed. They didn’t get in until 10:30! We’re headed out to the bush and Wells of Hope School today, so say a quick prayer for the car!

You all are the reason we can do what we do here, and I can’t thank you enough…

Mwebele mnonga,


PS We have a project up for Christine’s exit package and it’s 75% funded — we just need $110 to complete it and get Christine ready for her independent life. Click below to help – as always 100% goes to the project!

Click Here!

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Patience Really Isn’t My Thing



So far, 2023 has been very slow in the fundraising department overall. Don’t get me wrong, I expected January to be slow, because everyone was so generous at year end. It’s kind of like when I had the bakery and everyone went on a diet in January, only to emerge from starvation just in time for Valentine’s Day treats!

But man alive, do you all come through time after time!

Just yesterday the water tank project for Hopeland Primary School got over 10% funded and so appeared to the wider DonorSee audience. Today, someone who subscribes to this mailing list funded the rest!

Not ten minutes later a medical project for Touch the Slum was 100% funded by one regular donor.

First, let me say THANK YOU to ALL of you who have been so supportive with your comments and donations. You are the only reason our programs keep going, and the only reason we can touch the lives of over 550 children and teens every day.

Second, I can’t tell you how much your support buoys all of us here in the trenches. There’s a lot of need in Uganda, and a lot of need that Ronald, Gideon, and all our team are surrounded by every day. It takes a lot out of us all sometimes, not gonna lie.

But then we get so many gifts: previously illiterate girls taking notes in class. An entire P7 class passing their national exams. A text or email or message of support for no particular reason from one of you.

It goes far beyond dollars, no matter how important those dollar are. It’s partnership and friendship and collaboration that makes Ten Eighteen Uganda run, and you are as much a part of that as any of us.

We really can’t thank you enough.

Mwebele mnonga,


PS We leave on Sunday! If you don’t follow us or check us out regularly on Instagram, make sure to put it in your calendar to do it while I’m gone. That’s the best way to keep up with all we’re doing, although I will still be sending this newsletter, too. Click the icon below to go to our Instagram feed! (You don’t have to have an account.)

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New Desks at Wells of Hope


Over the past week I’ve made a bunch of food for my very pregnant daughter to put in her freezer for after the baby is born. Today, as I ran bananas foster muffins, burritos, and smoothie packets to her, I got the video from Gideon with the follow up for DonorSee on most recent the desks project.

It occurred to me that we were doing the same thing, Gideon and I: delivering things that were hand made for a purpose. Things you might think you could just buy at a store. (Or from Amazon…)

In Uganda, in poor rural areas like Rwakobo Village, there isn’t a desk or school supply store. There isn’t a hardware store, a clinic, a supermarket, a warehouse store, a pharmacy, or a drive through. There’s no gas station or even a well.

Even in Mbarara, which is one of Uganda’s largest cities, you can’t just buy school desks “off the rack” — they are constructed to order. We ordered these desks last week, and today they were transported and installed in Wells of Hope Primary School, ready for the kids to start the new school year on Monday.

What’s exciting is that the kids know that these desks were made especially for them. In a remote, extremely impoverished area, this isn’t something that happens very often. This village, founded with refugees from “off over there” (Rwanda), has been forgotten by the governments large and small.


Because of you and partners like you, the 400 kids at Wells of Hope have desks, cement floors, blackboards, windows and doors, and panes of glass. They have mosquito nets, a water tank, a kitchen, dishes, and soccer balls.

Most of all, they have the knowledge that somewhere halfway around the world there are people that they don’t know, who they will never meet, who cared enough about them to help them get an education.

That’s more valuable than gold!

Webele nyo!


PS We have 2 urgent projects on DonorSee right now: the funding for the transport and burial of Teacher Justin’s murdered brother, and helping Teacher rebuild her tailoring business after a fire destroyed her shop and 8 other businesses. We’d so appreciate your support of our teachers as they deal with these tragedies.

Take me to DONORSEE!

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And They’re Back (at School)!


While everyone needed and enjoyed their holiday break, school’s back and we couldn’t be happier! Laughing, dancing, sewing machines whirring, kids playing, huge pots of steaming posho… We love our jobs!

Of course, we exist because of the problems teen girls face.

Yesterday, concerned neighbors notified Ronald and the team of the plight of the 15-year-old girl in the photo above. (We’ll call her Rachel.)

Rachel is a true orphan (meaning both parents are dead) who is under the guardianship of an auntie. The auntie sent her from the village to work as a maid in a house, where she was supposed to be paid 10,000 shillings a MONTH. (That’s $2.69 at the exchange rate while I’m typing this.) However, she has never been paid anything. She was being abused. Many times she was denied food. And last night the woman she works for kicked her out.

For now, she’s safe with us in the dorm. Today we are notifying the LC (Local Community leader) and trying to find her auntie in the village. The LC may get the police involved, but — let’s be honest — it’s doubtful that the police will do anything.

Because teen girls are the lowest in the culture.

We have a second case, identified by one of our teachers, of a 17-year-old girl who is being forced into sex work by her guardian who lost his job. Teacher Linda is working with the authorities for now, but if we need to bring her into the program as an emergency admission, we will.

This is what we do thanks to YOU.

It’s very easy to look at the world and see so much need that we feel paralyzed and numb. There’s no way that we, by ourselves, can fix it, so we try not to look.

But together, we CAN make a difference, each and every day, for girls like Rachel and the others in our program. That starts the slow process of culture change, and small culture changes ripple out to create a better life for teen girls in the slum and beyond.

Thank you for your support and encouragement – you make it all possible!



PS Thank you for your donations to the mosquito net project for Wells of Hope after our last newsletter! The project is 54% funded and we just need $220 to get the first 100 mosquito nets to these impoverished children. If you want to contribute even one net ($4!) that would help us so much! Just click below!

YES I’ll buy nets!

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Rainy Season in Uganda

I’ve spent a lot of time with my Ugandan friends trying to explain the concept of seasons. (I haven’t been that successful!)

In Uganda, there are just rainy and dry seasons – two of each per year. We are coming to the last few weeks (we hope!) of this fall’s rainy season, which has been brutal.

  • At least 24 were killed in flooding in Eastern Uganda in August
  • Thousands were displaced by flooding and landslides in Western Uganda in September

Our own programs have been affected, as you can see from the picture above of Hopeland Primary School in Mbarara. Wells of Hope and the surrounding village in Rwakobo have had even more significant flooding. The work on the farmhouse was delayed significantly by rains.

You may not know it, but Kampala is about 3000 feet above sea level. I’ve only had one trip in 14 where I was hot — often I’m wearing jeans and a sweatshirt! And few windows have glass in them so the damp cold is hard to get away from when it never seems to stop raining.

We’ve had several girls struggle to control their asthma during this time, and about three times the usual number of respiratory illnesses. We’ve even had some cases of dysentery due to all the contaminated water girls have to walk through to get to class.

So… Did you know that you can sign up as a monthly sponsor of our Haven Clinic? It’s true! We are at 40% right now. There’s no minimum to be a sponsor, and it really helps us keep all our teen moms and teen girls healthy by paying Sherry’s salary and restocking the medications we use daily.


Webele nyo!


PS Bonus picture of Sylvia with her new baby boy (no name as of yet) coming home from the hospital to lots of love yesterday!


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October Has Already Been Exciting!


October has been amazing!

Here’s what going on at Touch the Slum (and Wells of Hope Primary School) already this month:


Our biggest-ever graduation happened on Saturday and it was amazing! I’ll be making a video to put on our YouTube channel this week, but for now, you can see the joy in the girls’ faces above as 35 graduated in Literacy, Tailoring, Advanced Tailoring, and Hairdressing. We had quite the fashion show thanks to the Advanced Tailoring girls — you’ll have to wait for the video or check out the Reel I posted on Sunday on Instagram.

The project for graduation funded 100% on Sunday, which was wonderful! We ended up having to rent a tent because of the weather, and the regular costs add up, too. So we’re really grateful for the support!


HUGE thanks go out to Board member Mikkel Thorup and his Project Manager Dom Alves (who lives in Brazil!) for a complete re-do of our website. We’d been on SquareSpace for a long time because, well, it’s easy! But it lacked functionality, and we were ready to be able to do some new things with it. It launched this past weekend, and we’re SUPER happy and grateful — check it out and let us know what you think!



Some of you will remember from my last visit that Wells of Hope had gotten a loan to build a second brick building, but didn’t have the money for the concrete floors, blackboards, windows or desks. We’ve been chipping away at that on DonorSee, funding the blackboards, and going one class at a time for desks and windows.

A local donor funded the cement floors, which was amazing. Then last week, we got the first 5 windows put in. That so inspired someone that Gideon knew that they donated the remaining 19 windows! Now all we need is 12 sets of the glass inserts, and we’re rain-proof.

We also funded the 3rd classroom’s desks! The order went in for those yesterday, so we’ll be installing them in a week or so. Then on to classroom #4.

This is HUGE for the incredibly poor village of Rwakobo – who didn’t have a school EVER until Wells of Hope opened in 2019. (And then closed for 2 years thanks to government pandemic policies.) Gideon and everyone out there is amazed by the generosity shown to their little school, and we really are so grateful.

And y’all – it’s only October 4th!

Thank you so much for following along with us on this great journey.

Webele nyo!


PS We are planning our holiday cards EARLY this year! (I know, it’s a shock!) If we don’t have your physical address, we’d love to add you to our mailing list so you can get the occasional greeting from Ten Eighteen. Just hit Reply – we won’t share, spam, or visit, we promise!

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Why a Village School Is So Important

As a general rule, I’m not a big fan of institutional schooling. Our family homeschooled for 13 years, and the pandemic years certainly taught us a few things about the state of education.


In Uganda, and especially in terribly poor, remote areas like Rwakobo Village, schools are critical. Especially schools like Wells of Hope that operates on a pay-if-you-can tuition system, with no mandatory uniforms, no testing fees, no “bring a broom, a case of toilet paper, and paper or you can’t come” rules.

For 40 years, this village’s children either didn’t go to school at all, or had to WALK nearly 10 miles each way to go. (It takes a half hour in the car to reach the closest town!) If they were lucky and had relatives in a town with a school, they could attend more easily, but for most, school was not even a remote possibility.

I absolutely believe that reading, writing, math, science, and geography (they learn American geography in primary school – for some reason no one knows – and don’t learn Uganda’s geography until secondary) are important. It’s a key to MORE in their lives.

But even more than that, for these village children, it’s a safety net.

  • They get food at school. For many, it’s the only food they get in a day.
  • They have advocates in their teachers and the administration, who are able to spot abuse and illness.
  • Gideon, Gilbert, and the other staff regularly visit the homes — even those that are 2-3 miles’ walk from the school — to check on families, to see why children have missed days, to try to help the families prioritize education.
  • For the girls, being in school has at least stalled childhood marriage practices. (We lost a handful of girls during the lockdown closure to this practice, and it’s heartbreaking.)

I know that many people, especially those familiar with the overall abysmal academic performance of schools in countries like Uganda struggle with the idea of helping them. For our newest board member Mikkel, the social and welfare aspects of supporting schools was new — and a game changer.

Because of the overwhelming demand when schools started back up after the 2-year break at the end of January, Wells of Hope took out a loan to build a second “real” building. (The photo above is the current P2, very overcrowded classroom!) We have been fundraising on DonorSee to get blackboards and furniture. The first classroom’s furniture project is over halfway funded — we just need $175 to complete it.

Click the button to donate!

Let’s buy desks and chairs!

We so appreciate your support!

Webele nyo,


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And So It Ends… Leaving On a Jet Plane

I leave tonight (Wednesday) at 11:30pm. I’ll check out of the hotel at 10:30 in the morning, grab some of my son’s favorate Kamulali hot sauce, spend several hours at the office, and then go on to Entebbe and the airport. There’s a good lounge in EBB, and honestly, what else is there to do when you’re just sitting around anxious to be on your way?!

The trip has been GREAT. Really great.

After 2+ years away thanks to the pandemic response, I am thrilled to see in person all that we — and YOU — have built.

The Touch the Slum compound is thriving, with 12 residents, 60 students, a clinic, a daycare, 20 staff, and so much enthusiasm.

The Literacy class went even better than we expected, and those girls are ready to sit in on vocational classes and get a feel for what they’ll be doing next term.

Our photography and videography team — which started as a vocational class, too — has been producing the really great work we use in social media and on DonorSee. Their short film was part of the Ugandan Film Festival. They’re also getting outside gigs, and are now “influencers” on TikTok and getting paid just to mention businesses!

We’re reaching even more teens with Teen Talk and Turning Point each week.

And out west, schools are back in session FINALLY, and the students are doing well. The school building at Wells of Hope Primary in Rwakobo Village is almost usable. We’re going to put an ecobrick water tank at Hopeland Primary to help them have enough — and free — water.

Spending time with all the wonderful people we’ve been able to gather to Ten Eighteen Uganda, Touch the Slum, and the two schools has been inspiring and motivating. I’m headed back with renewed energy (okay, maybe renewed AFTER I get over jet lag!).

I’ve been really grateful that we’ve video chats and messaging over the last two years. But there is nothing like sharing meals, walking the slum or village, laughing, chatting, and watching in person. The former will let me come once a year and still be 100% “in the know.” The latter lets me truly KNOW. I’m grateful!



PS. We have 2 projects up on DonorSee to allow the Wells of Hope building to open – one is for floors and blackboards, the other for desks and chairs (part 1). (That one is almost 20% funded already.) We’d so appreciate your support to move the kids from the overcrowded mud-and-stick classes to the spacious new ones as soon as possible!

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