And finally, we’re pretty close to our goal for year end fundraising at DonorSee – which was a stretch goal to begin with. We’ve had 6 projects funded in the last 24 hours! If you want to help today or tomorrow, you can go to this page and either make an unspecified donation or see all our project.
We SO appreciate all your support, encouragement, emails, and (of course) donations over this last year — you’re the best!
When 15-year-old Brenda’s baby was just one week old, her mother beat her severely and threw them both out into the street in the middle of the night with nothing but the clothes they were wearing.
Fortunately, the local LC lady knew about our program and brought her to us in the early morning hours. Brenda got shelter, clothing, food, and, in the morning, medical treatment from Nurse Sherry at our clinic.
Next term, Brenda will start in Skills for Life, and she’s taking part in the Literacy program, too. All at no cost to her!
We have had several dozen teen moms in our residential and vocational programs. Some come to us homeless, desperate, and ill, like Brenda. Some live with a parent, an auntie, or a friend and have a somewhat stable (if challenging) home life.
All have little hope of a future outside of a cycle of sex work and unplanned babies, probably with HIV/AIDS thrown in at some point.
Until Touch the Slum!
We are the only organization in Namuwongo — home to over 30,000 people — working with teen moms. We are the only organization in the slum that offers free vocational and literacy training. And we are the only organization that has a free residential program for both teen moms and for Skills for Life students who become homeless while enrolled.
How do we do it? YOU!
Your generosity impacts the lives of these destitute teen moms every single day. It creates a safe harbor, opportunity, stability, education, medical care, food, and hope.
Every dollar you give to Ten Eighteen — 100% — goes to teen moms like Brenda who just need a hand up so they can create a sustainable life for themselves.
Your year end donation will enable us to keep saving lives and offering opportunity — not with handouts, but with hand-ups.
PS Please share this email with your family and friends and let them know why you support Ten Eighteen. Word of mouth is a precious gift that keeps on giving!
PSS As I wrote in the Subject line, last night we had our 200th project on DonorSee funded! The farm project is 85% funded and we have a donor who has said if we can “get closer” he’ll close it out by year end. Can you give a little extra to help us have a fully funded farm going into 2023?
Back before the social media days — and yes, there were days before social media! — there used to be a lot of talk about networking. In my (few) months of a misguided attempt to be a Real Estate Agent in the ’80s, it was alllll about networking.
Now days, I think we just assume everyone is connected all the time. And we are, in some ways… But are we really sharing the important stuff or just enjoying cat memes? (I love a good cat meme!)
With the Season of Giving upon us, I’d like to ask you a favor.
Would you “network” the old-fashioned way for us for just a few minutes? Could you:
Forward one of our emails to friends and family with a “Hey, I support this great work in Uganda and think you’d be interested?”
Like, Comment, and Share some of our social media posts, especially around Giving Tuesday next week? (buttons below)
Head to our Bonfire shop and grab a shirt or bag — then tell a few people about us when you wear it?
Word of mouth is THE most valuable tool in growing our work in the Namuwongo slum. There’s a lot of noise in the world these days, and your recommendation helps us cut through that.
We are so thankful for your support and encouragement! You’ve made 2022 such an incredible and impactful year for our girls at Touch the Slum. We can’t do it without YOU!
PS Cecilia is getting ready to move out on her own after over a year in our residential program. She’s in charge of our daycare and is going to continue that work plus keep her own small business. We’ve got a project up on DonorSee to bless her with an exit package (mattress, sheets, some household food, and food). If you can contribute $20 that would help her so much! Click the button!
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.
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.
Meet Jenifer and her daughter Victoria. Jenifer originally came to the Touch the Slum office when she was pregnant and homeless, and we were a small 2-room place in the slum.
We referred her to an organization we work with that helps pregnant teens called Amani, who had room to take her in. Jenifer gave birth and for a little while after lived with friends.
But about a year and a half ago she became homeless again. And she came back to Touch the Slum — only now we had a program just for girls like her: the Ross House.
Jenifer moved into the Ross House with Victoria, got medical treatment and a good diet, and she began to blossom. She started Skills for Life in Tailoring and it was apparent from the start that she was gifted.
After graduating, she moved into the Suubi House and on to Advanced Tailoring. She’s just finished with that and will graduate on October 1. In the meantime, she’s done so well that both tailoring teachers have been getting her side gigs. She’s saved up a good nest egg!
And now she’s ready to move out into her own place! To begin an independent life that doesn’t rely on a friend who can take her in or a man who will give her food in exchange for sex. And she’s ready!
We couldn’t be more proud of her.
We have a project up to fund her exit package. When our teen moms are ready for independent living, we don’t just show them the door. We make sure they’ve worked and saved enough for several months rent. That their job or own small business is established and stable. Then we gift them a mattress and bedding, household goods, food, and personal supplies.
And our door is always open – Victoria can come to daycare, and they can both get treatment from Nurse Sherry in the clinic. Mama Santa will be happy to serve them up some delicious plates of food, too.
This is the goal. This is the why.
You can’t make lasting, sustainable change without going deep. You can’t change a life without changing the way they see the world, without giving hope that’s based on a truly sustainable path.
Jenifer is a rock star, and I can’t wait to see how far she’ll go!
PS We have a project up on DonorSee for Jenifer’s exit package. I put it up yesterday afternoon and it’s already 40% funded! We’d love for you to bless her in her new life — as you’ve blessed her during her whole time at Touch the Slum. Just click! Webele nyo!
ackline is one of the teen moms living in the Suubi House with her daughter Jasmine. She’s just completed Skills for Life and will begin working and saving money towards moving out to independent living.
This is our goal: sustainable self-sufficiency.
But like most worthwhile things, it’s a process. Jackline came to us homeless and destitute. They were both sick. She had nothing and no one.
Over the past nearly-year, she has worked hard in her classes. She’s participated in counseling, mentoring, and peer groups. She’s learned to identify things that are worth working and fighting for, and also the things (and people!) to stay far away from.
During the course of that time, we’ve provided for all her needs. She and Jasmine have been housed, fed, clothed, their illnesses treated, school supplies provided. Our only expectation has been her commitment to her future.
Obviously, free to her isn’t free to us, and you have been amazingly generous and consistent in your support of Touch the Slum over the last 2 years.
Now DonorSee has 2 new features that have opened up to us to make it even easier for you to support us:
Sponsorship — we currently have 2 projects up that need monthly sponsors: the clinic and the residential program.
The clinic is 40% funded, so we need $300 per month more so that the basic costs of running the clinic are covered. You can click here to become a sponsor.
The residential program doesn’t have any sponsors yet, so you can be the first! We house up to 8 teen mothers and their children in the Ross and Suubi Houses plus 4 in the dorm, and provide them with all their needs during their stay. (We currently have 5 teen moms and one teen who will give birth in the coming month, and 5 previously homeless Skills for Life students in the dorm.) It costs us $1,000 per month to care for these children, and we’d love to have your support — in ANY amount! Click here to become a sponsor.
Monthly Donor — Many of you are monthly donors through DonorBox, and we still use DonorBox for unspecified monthly donations and for other campaigns. But now, you can also be a monthly donor on DonorSee! When you click to donate, you will be given the option of “monthly” or one time. If you choose monthly, your donation will go to the largest project we have on the platform at the time of your donation. (Currently, that is the farm!)
Becoming a monthly donor, through either DonorSee or DonorBox, really helps us have visibility for our budget. We love seeing projects funded and one-time donations come in (so please don’t stop!), but we also love knowing that we have a defined amount that will come in each and every month.
Whichever you choose, we are so humbled and grateful that you choose to give to Ten Eighteen and our Touch the Slum project. We can’t thank you enough!
PS I’ve got several speaking engagements coming up in September and October. If you’d like to have me share about Uganda and our work at Touch the Slum at your group, just hit Reply and let me know!
When Ronald found this land, the most noticeable WOW was that it had a home already started. It’s a multi-room brick structure with a garage — the former owner had planned to move there before all the pandemic lockdowns and inflation. That’s a HUGE bonus, as we’d planned to have to build a house for our caretaker from scratch, and while it’s bigger than anything we would have built, we will be sure to maximize all the space.
With the cost of things right now, we won’t be able to finish out the whole building at one time, but our next project is finishing the garage area into a home, with a roof, windows, doors, and floor. We’ll also make another room into a store room for tools and supplies.
Moses, who has been helping us with everything out there, is getting the quote together, and hopefully we’ll be able to start this work next week! And that’s all thanks to YOU and your amazing generosity in funding this project. We’re at 63% now, and would love your help to get us over the finish line soon! There’s a button below.
Meanwhile, look at the cassava in the photo above! Once Moses cleared the weeds and invasive plants out (and sprayed for bugs!), we realized we had a LOT more stuff already growing than we thought. There is a lot of cassava (yuca in Central and South America), and Ronald and Fauza were able to bring some back to Touch the Slum for Mama Santa to cook up. Cassava is great, because you yank it up, harvest the big tubers, then replant it and let it keep going.
We also have mature matoke and mango trees and have planted bananas. Moses is getting us free beans for planting, as well as some small trees from a friend. We’re looking into moringa – we may be able to get some small trees free from the government!
This project already means so much to our team, and now we’ve brought home the first produce… It’s truly amazing, and we can’t thank you enough!
PS I did a one-hour interview with DonorSee for an upcoming Spotlight feature. I edited the footage I recorded on my phone, so if you’re interested in how Ten Eighteen was born and what we’re up to, you can check it out here!
People ask me all the time if I am scared about going to Uganda, especially when I go alone. My answer is always, “No, but…”
Just like when we lived in Nicaragua, when you visit a developing nation, especially as a “rich American,” you have to not be, well, stupid. You don’t leave your cell phone on the table when you get a drink refill. You don’t leave your purse in the shopping cart and turn your back to examine the cereal selection. You don’t walk alone in the dark. You don’t leave your laptop bag in your car.
Petty theft is 100% going to happen when half or more of the population is living in staggering poverty. It just is. But most of the time, violent crimes are perpetrated on their own people.
Early Monday morning, thugs, hopped up on moonshine or drugs, broke down the door to Monica’s house. They broke everything they could find, stole some of the mattresses and slashed the rest, and tried to rape one of the girls. Their 13-year-old brother fought back and is now in KCCA hospital.
Neighbors caught and beat one of the perpetrators severely — he’s at the police station but Ronald said, “The police won’t do much for now.” To be honest, that should read “for ever.” Because the police in the slum basically just manage crowd control, not actual crime. It’s just how it is.
Meanwhile, Monica’s family is left with virtually nothing and a brave boy in the hospital with a bill they will not be able to pay.
We love the dancing and happy success stories and smiling kids, of course. But this is also the reality of working in Uganda. And yes, it sucks.
We have an urgent project up on DonorSee for Monica and her family, to try to help them get back on their feet. We have purchased mattresses and bedding and some necessities in the meantime, which came out of our operating budget. We could really use your help on this one! Just click – it’s super fast and easy to donate, and 100% (minus processing fees of course) will go to the project.
When I was a teen, school months seemed to drag on and on, and summer flew by. Other than getting to go back-to-school shopping with my grandmother, I didn’t find a whole lot to be excited about! (Especially since my bus came at 6:45 and we ate lunch at 10:30!)
I’m pretty sure I never looked like Justine does in this photo!
It’s hard to overstate the danger that teen girls face in the slum: starvation, rape, trafficking, sex work, pregnancy, lack of access to education. In short, they all feel hopeless and trapped in the cycle that they see all around them every day. Even their mothers will encourage them into sex work to “contribute to the family.”
We opened the Ross House to help address teenage pregnancy and its challenges. Skills for Life addresses hopelessness.
Culture is changed one life at a time. Our focus is holistic — we don’t just teach a skill, or just provide a meal, or just take in a homeless teen mom.
We teach literacy to those who can’t read, write, or do basic math.
We teach English speaking — believe it or not, English is the official language of Uganda. But it’s taught in schools. No school = no English.
We address trauma through counseling and peer groups.
We provide support through mentoring and teacher engagement.
We do home visits to identify family issues early.
We provide food and a safe space for girls to hang out, off of the streets.
And we teach skills for sustainable self-sufficiency.
We don’t do the easy, high-number, flashy stuff. We do the real, long, hard work to create change, for these girls and for their children and families.
In Uganda, women can’t inherit land. We are giving them a legacy that no one can keep them from passing on.
Thank you for your amazing support and encouragement. We couldn’t do it without you!
PS We always have a lot of great projects up on DonorSee. We now also have sponsorship opportunities, where you can support us monthly. Two are up right now, for the clinic and for the residential program. Click to check them out!