Skills for Life

June? Already??


It’s June! J.U.N.E. Holy cow.


Just a quick note to apologize for missing this week’s newsletter. I’m out of town for my brother-in-law’s memorial (he passed away in December), and time got away from me.

Lots is happening at the compound, including all the kids getting new clothes thanks to donors on DonorSee.

We are finalizing a “summer school session” on farming for a test group of girls during the term break.

And — something I always forget — we have shirts and bags at our Bonfire store, which is a great way to outfit yourself for summer AND support Ten Eighteen Uganda. There’s a sale for the whole month, 10% off with the code SUMMER24.


Back to regularly scheduled programming next week.



June? Already?? Read More »

An extra day of sunshine


Happy February 29th! If it’s your birthday, aren’t you so glad it’s finally here?!

The past month (except yesterday!) has been hot and dry in Kampala and at the farm. While that’s not so great for the last of our cabbages, it’s been wonderful for our heat-loving veggies like the eggplants Ronald is picking in the photo.

We’ve got more seeds going in almost every day for new produce and the girls at the compound have been excited by the changes in their diet — which is also a great nutrition boost!

We have a new project in the works, which we’ve been talking about for 2 years now:

Adding in a Farming class to Skills for Life!

We will be starting with a shorter course with 5 girls, timed for weekends and the term break to work out the kinks — like housing and feeding them for days at a time, who will be the chaperone, what Derrick will teach them exactly, etc.

But we are VERY excited that the farm is at the place now where we can bring this skill to our girls. For, while some grew up in the village, many were born in the Namuwongo slum and have never grown the first thing. The Rotary Club in the area has built a greenhouse in the slum… but hardly anyone uses it. What if our girls develop the skills to use it, and can provide fresh produce for their families?


We’ve also had the neighbors of Mikisa Farm coming to ask Derrick how we’re growing so muchand so differently than the traditional (inefficient) way. This will give us an opportunity to bring in some of them to learn, too.

What do we say? Go deep to change a culture!

We are so appreciative of all your support and encouragement.

Mwebele nnyo!


PS Our project to make liquid soap for the next couple of months is 84% funded – we just need $40 to finish it and buy the materials. If you’d like to donate today, here’s the link!


PSS Last year, either the IRS or our accountant made a keying error on our address and it currently shows we’re in Butner NC (27509) instead of Raleigh (27609) in their database. We thought we’d fixed it with a new filing, but it is still showing incorrectly, so searches in their database for 1018 using the correct zip or city aren’t showing us. Rest assured we ARE still a registered 501c3 — you can just put in our EIN of 26-3867682 and NC and find us. We’re still working on getting it corrected!

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Acclimation, Orientation, and Graduation


It’s hard to believe we’ve all been home for more than a week! It was a great trip, and everyone who went has had a blast sharing their experiences with their friends and family. I think I can safely say “fun was had by all!” (And hard work and emotional growth and jet lag!)

At Touch the Slum, things are moving on apace.

The new term started on Monday with Orientation for all the incoming students for Literacy, Tailoring, Hairdressing, and Media. Today was Day 1 in the classroom, and it was all smiles!

Trust me when I tell you (and as my grandmother would attest, given her unsuccessful attempts at teaching me to sew) — it’s hard enough sewing a straight line with a fast electric machine. Sewing a straight line with a slow-moving needles while pumping the pedal with your feet… super challenging! So the girls start out on paper, making straight lines with a ruler and pencil, until they’ve mastered it.

In Hairdressing, they spend a lot of time with head dummies before they get to a real person’s real head — and this is definitely for the best! Braiding in straight lines isn’t much easier than sewing in them, and braiding fast? Forget it.

Media spends a lot of time on digital camera basics, and also on phone photography/videography techniques beyond point-and-shoot. Editing will come soon, as they learn what they need to be professionals.

And the Literacy girls jump right into (or back into, for the ones who’ve remained for the next term) the three-r’s, games, puzzles, and art.

We also have a dozen girls out doing internships, with our Community Officers following up and keeping track of how they’re doing.

In short, controlled chaos has resumed! And we thank you all for your support that makes it possible for us to welcome these girls, give them a free education and food, and a safe place to learn and grow.

Mwebele nnyo!


PS Oh, I forgot about graduation! The girls who just finished up while we were there will be graduating on February 24th. As you know if you’ve followed us for awhile, this is a HUGE deal for these girls who have never been to school before. They get official Certificates, wear caps and gowns (make in-house), get tee shirts, local leaders come to the ceremony, and they have a feast and party. It’s such an important milestone and one we make as big as possible to celebrate girls who’ve never been celebrated before.

We have a project up to fund the graduation – we’d love your help to make it the best yet! Just click the button!


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Pregnant at 14 – Faith’s Story


Faith, left, got pregnant during Uganda’s severe pandemic lockdowns, like so many teen girls who were struggling to survive. She was 14.

Her family were unemployed and unable to care for her. Ten Eighteen got her into Wamukisa’s program for pregnant girls, where she gave birth to Diana, but they can’t keep girls after childbirth.

She went to live with her mother who, while unable to care for Faith and Diana herself, was able to bring her back to Touch the Slum and the Ross House.

Diana is now learning hairdressing and looking forward to a sustainable future.

This is her story.

Faith’s Story



PS It costs $50 a month to feed, clothe, house, and educate the residential girls (and their children) in our program. By making a one-time donation or becoming a monthly donor today, you ensure girls like Faith are safe as they work towards their future!


Pregnant at 14 – Faith’s Story Read More »

Fauza’s Story – from drugs to the head of our media team


Fauza grew up in a dysfunctional Muslim family in the Namuwongo slum. In her middle teens, she was in a dance group and using drugs, barely getting by.

She joined Touch the Slum in January 2021 and is now on staff as the Lead on our Media team and a documentary film maker.

This is her story.



PS It costs $35/mo for us to take a girl like Fauza through Skills for Life, where they can become literate and learn a vocational skill that will allow them to earn a sustainable living. By donating today, you can impact these girls for the rest of their lives!


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From Desperation to Independence – Gloria’s Story


At 16, Gloria became pregnant.

She was living in a tiny one-room house with five other girls, and had turned to drugs and informal sex work. She came to touch the slum for counseling and was later enrolled in the Ross House, Hairdressing, and Literacy. Now, she is on our staff and lives independently.

This is her story.




PS Girls like Gloria come to us every single day. It only costs $35 to pay for one month of instruction in Skills for Life, and $50 pays for a month in our residential program + Skills for Life. By donating today, you help girls just like Gloria get out of the grinding poverty and into a sustainable future. 100% of donations go to the program!


From Desperation to Independence – Gloria’s Story Read More »

Our Vision for 2024

2023 has been a banner year for Ten Eighteen, at Touch the Slum and in the west where we provided the well for Rwakobo Village.

Over a hundred girls have learned to read, write, speak English, and do basic math.

They have learned a skill in Tailoring, Hairdressing, Photography/Videography, or Digital Literacy.

We were selected by Plan International to be one of only two nonprofits in their referral program in the entire (LARGE) district, made up of millions of Ugandans.

We introduced drawing and painting and unleashed creativity in both students and staff — NOT something that’s very common in Uganda!

Every day, girls were rescued, supported, treated, respected, and lifted up, in ways big and small.

And guess what? 2024 is going to be even better!

January marks our 15th year working in the Namuwongo slum and in Uganda!

Also in January, we are taking a team of four amazing women who will bring lifetimes of skills in art, writing, cooking, organic farming, nursing and public health, and psychiatric social work to our staff and students.

In the spring, our “community organization” status will be officially upgraded to a country-wide NGO.

With the funding of our newest large project on DonorSee, we will be able to move the residential girls to a separate nearby house. This will give them more peace and quiet and room to heal, and it will free up space in the Touch the Slum compound to expand our vocational skills program.

As our farm continues to produce, we will start taking teams of girls from TTS who are interested in learning farming skills to get hands on experience. (You can’t grow much in the slum!)

All this and more is thanks to generous donations like the one you made last year. Will you consider making a year end donation to help us again?

As always, 100% of your donations go to the program, and we SO appreciate your support and encouragement!

Mwebele nnyo,



PS If you aren’t following us on Instagram, now is a great time to start. Our home-grown media team does amazing work, and we have new content up every day. It’s a great way to keep up with all we’re doing in Namuwongo and to see all the fun we have on the team trip next month.

Our Vision for 2024 Read More »

Justine escaped from an abusive home – this is her story


15-year-old Justine moved to the Namuwongo slum to live with her father. Unfortunately, her stepmother was abusive from the start, beating her and eventually throwing her out. The father did not intervene, so Touch the Slum was granted custody of her.

Now living in our dorm, Justine is doing great!

This is her story.



PS $50 pays for a month for a girl in our residential program. All of her needs are covered, from clothing and food to medical care and vocational training. Your gift today will keep girls like Justine safe and in the program!


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Brenda’s mom kicked her out when her baby was one week old – this is her story


Brenda is 16 years old and has lived at the Ross House for a little over a year with her son Elijah. She lived with her mother, who is a vendor in the market, when she became pregnant.

A week after giving birth, her mother kicked her out in the middle of the night, but fortunately a neighbor brought her to Touch the Slum.

This is her story.

Brenda’s Story



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!


Brenda’s mom kicked her out when her baby was one week old – this is her story Read More »

13-year-old Joyce is on her way to her own small business!


When Joyce came from the village to the Namuwongo slum last year to live with her auntie, she had never been to school. While her aunt is a tailor herself, she was unable to take the time to teach her niece the skills she’d need to earn a living.

But she did make time to bring her to Touch the Slum and enroll her into the Literacy Program, and that has made all the difference!

This is Joyce’s story.

Joyce’s Story

TODAY IS GIVING TUESDAY — please forward this to friends and family and ask them to help support Touch the Slum today! 100% of donations go to the program.



PS Every day we have 75 students in Skills for Life, a FREE literacy and vocational program for vulnerable teen girls in Uganda’s largest slum. It only costs $35 per girl per month to learn, have a meal, receive medical care, and have a safe place to spend their time. Can you donate today so girls like Joyce can secure their future? Mwebele nnyo!


13-year-old Joyce is on her way to her own small business! Read More »

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