Touch the Slum

Last chance to give in 2023!


2024 is almost here, but you still have time to make a donation before the champagne corks fly!

Your support keeps Touch the Slum going, providing crisis care, vocational skills training, literacy, medical care, and more each and every day.

100% goes to the program – your money makes a huge impact!


2023 has been great — we can’t wait to see what 2024 brings.

Mwebele nnyo!


Last chance to give in 2023! Read More »

It’s almost our birthday! We’ll be 15 next month


Just before Christmas in 2008, I got the news that my 501c3, called Ten Eighteen Inc., was approved by the IRS. To be honest, I didn’t have a really clear idea what I was going to do with 1018… We had missionary friends in India and others in Zambia, so I had a vague idea that I would help them raise more money.

I got sick over Christmas and was on bedrest — which is SO boring and most especially at Christmas! But I reconnected with a friend who was living in Uganda and also homeschooling her kids, so we chatted a lot on Facebook. (I mean, how many times can you watch that movie with kid with the glasses and the air rifle before you just can’t take it anymore?!)

In mid-January, she sent me a message and asked if I could help a community organization in the Namuwongo slum called Ray of Hope to rent a building and pay for a full year up front. My American mind said, “Uh NO!” because that sounded like a LOT of money.

But it was only about $1200 — as long as Suzanne didn’t negotiate and get the much higher mzungu price — so we did it, and I started learning more about Ray of Hope and Uganda and Namuwongo.

We visited for the first time in September 2009 — the photo above is of my then 13-year-old son getting his first slum experience. I say “first time” because that became obvious in hindsight. But when we were planning the trip, we assumed it would be a “once in a lifetime” trip.


On that trip, we started sponsoring kids’ school fees.

On the next trip, in late February 2010, we began working with Hospice Jinja and ended up paying for 100% of their fuel costs for four years.

On the next trip, in July 2010, we began working with Arise Africa and ended up building a primary school in Bukaleba.

And so it went until 2016, when my husband and I moved to Nicaragua. There had been some changes in management in the organizations we had been working with, and had found some financial irregularities, so I had a strong suspicion that we were done in Uganda.

But surprise again!

Fast forward to 2018 and we were back in NC, and I had a bakery. I started a Pound for Pound program with our granola, helping fund food at Hopeland Primary School run by a long-time friend of mine.

In January 2020, my son (now a lot older!) and I went back to Uganda, thinking we might be saying goodbye for good. Instead, we came away with a new purpose and a new focus… and a new partner in Ronald, who we had known for 10+ years.


Here we are, sheltering in Mama Santa’s stall in the slum during the rain.

And that’s how Touch the Slum was born. We moved to the current compound to start the Ross House in October 2020 and have grown from there. Now, we focus on our work at Touch the Slum and the two schools in the west.


We’ve grown exponentially thanks to YOU – your donations, your encouragement, your engagement, and your love. We can’t thank you enough for getting us to 15 years!

Mwebele nnyo!


PS Like all nonprofits, we depend on year end giving for about 30% of our annual budget. If you haven’t given yet, will you please give today? 100% goes to the program!


It’s almost our birthday! We’ll be 15 next month 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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Amazing matching grant opportunity starts NOW!


I feel about as excited as Neema is in this photo, because a regular donor has offered an amazing matching grant opportunity:

They will match all donations dollar for dollar up to $3,000 — AND, if we meet or exceed $3,000, they will donate another $1,000!

That means that your donation is at least doubled, and maybe even more! Since 100% goes to the program… well, it’s hard to make a much better investment than that!

The match runs from today, December 14th, through Christmas day. If you’ve been thinking about giving to our work in Uganda, now’s the time to really make an impact!

We do what we do with vulnerable teen girls in Uganda only because YOU give through us to do the work. We can’t thank you enough!

Mwebele nnyo!



Amazing matching grant opportunity starts NOW! 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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When not owning knickers is the norm


The trip coming up in January will be my seventeenth trip to Uganda. In January 2009, we funded the rent for a building for Ray of Hope’s outreach to women and children in Namuwongo. On our first trip in September of 2009, we made our first visits to the slum.

I’ve been down in the “community” (the slum proper) at least a hundred times, conservatively.

And I can still be shocked.

Many of our girls have one outfit and one pair of shoes, usually knock-off cheap “Crocs”. I know this. I’ve known this. It’s a challenge.

But what I’ve learned since launching Touch the Slum is that many have no knickers (underwear) at all, and that their families often don’t consider it their “responsibility” to provide them.

Let’s be real for a second: teen girls have periods.

Even girls who can’t get sanitary pads need to use rags during their cycles. Practically speaking, underwear is pretty vital at least a week a month.

Owning zero or just one pair of knickers is a problem. They can’t come to class one week a month. They can’t go out of their house one week a month. They can’t launder their one skirt or dress without being left unclothed while it dries, which obviously leaves them completely housebound.

I don’t know about you, but I find that completely unacceptable. (To be honest, very few things make me actively angry… but this is one of them!)

Each term, we do a project to supply girls in need with underwear, a toothbrush, and toothpaste. Each term, you come together to help us fund this, so that no one misses class due to a lack of knickers. Together with our monthly sanitary pad distribution, you keep girls in class and active their community. And you help them keep their dignity.

It’s amazing how such a small thing can completely transform a life! To help, just click the button.

Knickers Project

Tweyanzizza nnyo, tweyanzeege — we are so grateful, thank you very much!



PS If you’ve missed our My Story series so far, you can always visit our YouTube channel to see those and other great videos on our work in Namuwongo.

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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 »

Creativity and Confidence


The slum is not a nice place.

You probably thought, “Well duh…” to that, because obviously it wouldn’t be called a slum if it was somewhere lovely.

But seriously. Beyond the obvious (filth, muck, abuse, drugs and moonshine, starvation, illness… SMELLS), everyone there operates in survival mode 100% of the time.

In survival mode, you’re not creative. Your body is flooded with cortisol and adrenaline. Your immune system is terrible. Your brain is a weird combination of hyper-alertness and fuzzy thinking.

This is how our girls live all the time when they’re not at the Touch the Slum compound. In the community, they can turn to little baggies of waraji (moonshine made in 50 gallon drums that makes turpentine seem like fine wine) or marijuana to try to ease the stress. If they escape that, they turn to young men who promise some stability but just leave unclaimed babies after they disappear.

One of our missions at Touch the Slum is to create an atmosphere where the girls can not only learn but also RELAX. Feel safe. Laugh. Dance. And create.

In March, my mom, Susan, introduced the girls in the Literacy class to drawing and painting. They loved it! Ever since, we’ve made it a regular part of the curriculum and it’s one of their favorite things.

When the team goes in January, we will have my mom again, who will continue to teach drawing and painting to the girls and staff. Connie is a glass and pottery artist so she’s going to teach those skills. And I’ll be bringing creative writing to the girls with some fun activities to help them have fun with their newly learned English words.

Much of life involves creating: outfits, artwork, stories, hairstyles. Once they can envision the small stuff, they can see the project that will be their masterpiece:

A life.

Thanks to you, these girls are learning to think creatively and expand their dreams. That’s an amazing gift and we can’t thank you enough.

Mwebele nnyo,


PS Are you following us on Instagram yet? We’ve had some great reels there, and the media team is doing a great job with our content. Click the icon below or here to check it out!

Creativity and Confidence Read More »