We (YOU) have funded the deep well for Wells of Hope Primary School and Rwakobo village in FIVE WEEKS. That’s $10,134 raised with only 9 donors in 5 weeks.
You know that word “gobsmacked?” Well, that’s what we are, especially Gideon.
I texted him last night after I got the email that the project had funded, read it about 6 times to make sure I wasn’t dreaming, and then cried a little. (True story!) Here’s what he said:
“Crazy crazy! It’s unbelievable! Thank yooooooou [yes, all those o’s!] so much, I didn’t see this coming through, I thought it was way too expensive. This is the biggest project we have done here, I’m super excited — I hope I get sleep!”
After that, he actually called the engineer in Kampala (11pm local time)! The engineer has sent a surveyor to Mbarara already (writing this on Tuesday). He will arrive tonight, and will start surveying the area Wednesday and talking with the local leaders tomorrow about where to place the well.
Y’all, this is SO amazing! This is what happens when people see what a difference they — YOU — can truly make in this world. This project will bring water, year-round, to over 3000 people. Three thousand people who currently have to collect water from ditches, compete with animals for it, and who get sick and die from typhoid on a regular basis.
It doesn’t take big corporations or big nonprofits. It just takes all of us, the average, ordinary people, coming together to accomplish something we could never do alone.
I’m so, so grateful!
PS If you didn’t see the project and original video with footage of the school and village, you can visit it by clicking the button. It was filmed in April when we were staying at Rwakobo Rock.
This week we welcomed Rebecca (Rosie) to Touch the Slum. She got in touch with us by way of an Expat Money friend I met when I was in Panama in December. (Gotta love networking!)
We love having visitors at the compound and get them quite often: students from Makerere University, groups from other organizations working in the area, and a few from the West who want to come check us out, like Rosie from Canada.
In this era of the internet and social media and even electronic missives like this one, it’s really wonderful to meet people in person. We post a lot (a LOT) of video online, and you get this newsletter twice a week, but there’s no way to truly understand the community of Namuwongo or the scope of our work without being there in person.
Obviously, you can’t all hop a plane and visit (although if you do, let me know and I’ll give you all the skinny on where to stay, going on safari, and more!).
My goal for this newsletter and our social media (Instagram mostly) is that you get a sense of our work. That you see where your donations are going and the difference they are making every day in the lives of the teen girls in our program. That you have confidence that we are using your hard earned money to its maximum potential to change the culture and impact individual lives.
If you don’t follow us on Instagram (or pop over there every once in awhile – you don’t need an account), I’d love for you to check it out. I post a Reel every single day (yes, every.single.day!): the farm, dancing, classes, DonorSee follow ups, visitors, day to day life, and more.
It’s the next best thing to being there!
PS We have a project up for 13-year-old Irene, whose mother makes less than $1/day. She is in our Literacy Program. Irene desperately needs clothes and shoes, and we only have $140 left to fully fund the project. If you can help, remember that 100% goes to the program! Click below —->
I’m from Florida, as were six generations before me. I have been accused of having “thin blood”, because I start wearing long sleeves in early September, and have been known to wear a wetsuit if the water temperature is below about 78 degrees.
I also do NOT like to sweat. That led me to have a young life filled with swimming pools, diving boards, sailboats, water skis, and canoes. No tennis or (heaven forbid) cross country running for me!
All that to say, I was never part of a TEAM. Yes, swimming and diving means you’re on a team, but they are individual sports at heart. You can win a First when the team comes in last. Really, you just need a ride to the pool!
I’m also an introvert, and could (honestly) probably be a professional hermit.
But THIS, Ten Eighteen Uganda, is truly a TEAM. It’s way beyond me, and that’s wonderful!
Our team in Uganda is 22 paid staff and another handful of full time volunteers who work tirelessly with and for our teen mom and teen girls. They are all from the Namuwongo slum themselves, and live there or nearby still, so they are well aware of the circumstances in which the girls live.
Our team outside of Uganda — me and our small board — does all the communications, fundraising, technical stuff, and project development. For free.
But NONE of that would have produced the incredible program we have now if it wasn’t for YOU. Every single donation, no matter the size, is put to work immediately. 100% of it. Day in and day out, you come through.
It’s not because I’m such a great communicator, or that the media team produces such great content, or that Ronald is an extraordinary administrator. It’s because, for some or all or none of those reasons but also because our mission lit a fire in you, you saw the need, you saw that you could do something, and then — most importantly — you took action.
Trust me, most people get hung up after that second one! They don’t think $5 or $10 or $100 can “do anything” so they end up not doing anything. But hundreds or thousands of people doing something equals an incredible movement that can shift a culture.
That’s what you’re doing. Shifting a culture!
I wish we had the budget to send you all… something. A hat or a shirt or fly a banner over your house to thank you. This will have to do.
This is Francis. We’ve known Francis since early 2010, when he was living at the children’s home run by some friends. We stayed there during all of our trips through 2015 — two a year — and got to know Francis really well.
He’s a WONDERFUL young man who has had a very difficult life. He was orphaned at the age of 8 when his village and the surrounding fields were consumed by fire. He wasn’t in the village at the time but saw the fire and rushed home to try to save his family. He couldn’t, and suffered significant burns in the rescue attempt.
He stayed at the home for about 8 years where he got an education and played football. Unfortunately, one of the other boys tried to stab him to death one night before fleeing, nearly killing Francis and causing significant injury. He spent a lot of time in hospital but made a full recovery.
Not long afterwards, the home closed down and the older kids were just left to fend for themselves. Most had some family somewhere in Uganda, but Francis did not. He had nowhere to go and no one to help.
Being smart and resourceful, he worked day labor and rented a small place. We were able to reconnect thanks to a messaging app in 2020, and Ten Eighteen has been helping him since then. And that’s where YOU come in!
We posted a project on Monday on DonorSee to pay for the certificate Francis had earned in computers. It was funded in a day! Yesterday he got the funds to the school, and should have the certificate in hand by the end of the week. We are working with him to finish his secondary education, find all the lost records from the children’s home, and figure out next steps.
We also had a project for windows at Wells of Hope Primary School in Rwakobo village funded this week. It’s the first of 5 that will be needed to get all the windows completed in the new building, so we’re really excited to be making progress there. The windows will be in by Saturday!
Most of our donations on DonorSee are between $10 and $25 – sometimes we have 20 donors involved in funding a project. And we LOVE that! We love that you all are coming together, giving what you can, and making a huge and immediate difference in people’s lives.
We are so grateful for your support, whether it’s a donation, a reply to an email, a Like on a social media post, or a text or call of encouragement. We don’t take any of it for granted, and really can’t thank you enough.