We opened the Ross House, a halfway house for teen moms in the country’s largest slum of Namuwongo, and have our first two residents. The Ross House is also serving as the office for Guardian Angel Foundation; training facility for Skills for Life, GAF’s vocational training program; and counseling center for high-risk youth.
We provided 150,000 meals to the kids at Hopeland and Wells of Hope Schools, the Arise Africa Babies Home, and the elderly and children during the lockdown.
We gifted 30 families with Wonderbags to enable them to cut cooking fuel costs by 4/5.
We built a kitchen and cistern at Wells of Hope School.
We funded a Covid19 Awareness Campaign in the Namuwongo slums that reached over 20,000 people.
We funded the P7 Candidate Class at Hopeland School, even while schools were closed so that those children didn’t lose their chance to pass the exam that determines whether they can continue on with their education.
When we returned to the US on February 9, 2020, no one knew that the world was about to be turned upside down. Lockdowns and fear have caused economic hardship everywhere, but countries like Uganda have been hit hardest, with extreme lockdowns for nearly four months. Hunger and unemployment, as well as skyrocketing teenage pregnancy and forced marriages, caused huge growth in the number of those facing extreme poverty.
Ten Eighteen, Guardian Angel Foundation, our partners at Hopeland and Wells of Hope Schools, and Arise Africa International, all pivoted to feeding people to keep especially children and the elderly from further harm. It was a huge mobilization effort! But thanks to YOU, we have been able to continue.
In the nearly 5 months since the Covid19 crisis put Uganda into a complete lockdown, Ten Eighteen has been focused entirely on KEEPING PEOPLE ALIVE. By the end of June, we were feeding, providing charcoal, and hygiene items for nearly 525 people. In that time, we’ve sent nearly $20,000 to our partners.
To be honest, it’s been exhausting, with all that’s going on in the States as well… But what a blessing! Truly, when we talk about it, when we really see what God has allowed us to do during this unprecedented crisis, it blows my mind. We sure didn’t see that coming when we left in February!
So now…. Things are still not “normal,” but we’re easing our way back there. I think it’s important to remember that our philosophy is A HAND UP, NOT A HAND OUT. Additionally, our main mission is for education and food for those who are most impoverished. We’ve had lots of conversations with our partners at Guardian Angel Foundation and Hopeland/Wells of Hope, encouraging them (and reminding myself) that we have all been given a mission and ministry, and we need to get back to where our hearts and talents are.
As of now, the president has continued to keep schools closed. Supposedly, all homes will get a radio and all classes for all grades will be broadcast. (Yeah, we’re not holding our breaths!) However, the P7 students at Hopeland have critical testing coming up in December, which will determine if they can continue to Secondary school, so we have a team of teachers going house to house to do home tutoring for those students. We are also providing the scholastic materials necessary for this group of 20 students to continue their studies.
The president will made an address tomorrow. If schools are to remain closed, we would like to provide some home materials for the 230 P3-P6 students at Hopeland and Wells of Hope schools. The cost of this is about $600 per term, and not in our budget, but we are confident we can raise the support to allow these children to continue their education in these difficult times.
In the slums of Namuwongo, we are transitioning from giving away food to providing micro-business grants for our teen moms. The informal economy has slowly restarted, so it’s the perfect time for these energetic young moms to start on the road to self sufficiency. We are doing 4 grants at a time, with training and mentoring ongoing.
One thing that became apparent during this crisis is that there are many, many teen moms in the slums who are absolutely desperate. We were able to help some of them, but we are now planning for an even bigger plan: a halfway house called the Ross House, in honor of my grandmother, Ross Schlernitzauer, who died at the age of 106 in April. She spent her life volunteering, so I am thrilled to continue her legacy with this much needed home for teen moms. Stay tuned for more info as we get closer to our planned mid-November opening.
Finally, at the beginning of the crisis, we funded a lot of plants and seedlings for the babies home in Bukaleba. Now that the big rains have ended, that little farm is growing, and we are praying it will allow more self sufficiency for the babies and children at the home.
There’s a lot more going on, and a lot more to come — we are so so blessed to have you along with us, and so thankful for the donations that have come in during this very trying time. Please join our mailing list if you haven’t, so you get the latest updates. And remember, you can donate once, or set up a recurring donation. Any amount helps SO much, and 100% goes to the programs.
And our long awaited STORE is up! Please head over to shop — more items are on the way. 100% of the price of the items goes to to our programs.
What a long 5 weeks it’s been in Uganda. In mid-March, when the Novel Coronovirus was coming on the scene everywhere, but before there had been any cases in Uganda, we sponsored a campaign with Guardian Angel Foundation to educate people on the virus, and on the basic hygiene needed to try to prevent or slow a spread in the slums. We were able to reach 20,000 of the 30,000 people in Namuwongo, and the campaign was written about in several newspapers and appeared on television news.
On March 29, when the number of cases was only in the low thirties, with no deaths, we received unofficial word that the president was going to order a complete lockdown of the country due to Covid19. We had expected some form of shutting down, but a complete lockdown, including all transportation, was not what we’d expected!
While this was still just a rumor, we felt that there was great risk to the people in our three programs, and immediately reached out to our partners. We sent over $7,000 on Friday to secure two months worth of food for 352 people (which became 368, and then 380…). Due to our quick actions, the food was purchased before crisis-induced inflation kicked in — by Monday, food prices had doubled!
Since that time, we have sent money weekly for charcoal, fresh vegetables, medicines, sanitary and hygiene products. Charcoal prices have gone from 60,000 shillings a bag to 130,000 shillings a bag — about $36 — in Namuwongo, although they have remained under 80,000 a bag so far in Mbarara. To date we have sent nearly $15,000 for almost 450 people.
Uganda is experiencing severe food shortages, people are starving to death, the government isn’t handing out food (as they’d promised to do), and parents are trying to give away, or are killing, their children because they’ can’t feed them. In short, it is a huge crisis, and sadly completely self-inflicted. As of today, Uganda has had 74 cases and no deaths.
We’re also now incurring additional costs for security, because the situation around the country has gotten so dire. However, we have been able to distribute smaller amounts of food around during the night hours, or to individual homes in small packages, so that we have avoided problems so far. We pray that continues to be the case, as there are at least 2 more weeks of lockdown ahead.
Meanwhile, on the positive front, we have partnered with Wonderbag to provide 30 of their Wonderbag non-electric slow cookers to our program participants. Wonderbag has a co-op of HIV+ women out of the Alive Clinic in Namuwongo, just 10 min from Guardian Angel Foundation’s offices. On Friday, we will be able to pick up the bags, buy pots, and distribute 23 of them in Namuwongo, as well as send 7 to Mbarara for our foster families. The cost of a medium Wonderbag plus pot is 140,000 shillings — only 10,000 shillings more than a single bag of charcoal — and will save us a LOT of money over the next couple of months as the country tries to get back on its feet. Check the bags out — they’re really amazing!
So there has been lots going on, and none of it what we’d planned! (of course) We still plan to build the well in the Rwakobo village, and have a donor who wants to fund it once they are back to work. We hope the children can get back to school, and parents back to their jobs in the informal economy that makes up most of Uganda. We’d love to have you partner with us on these projects, as well as the ongoing COVID19 crisis.