Joy comes in the morning


May has been a challenging month for many at Touch the Slum. We’ve had:

  • Multiple incidents of flooding in the area where the Congolese refugees live, including last night with Neema’s family, who wasn’t effected in the floods last week.
  • A 14-year-old girl in our Literacy class being sexually abused by a relative.
  • Our managing director, Ronald had a systemic rash of some kind, plus two days of migraine. (He’s fine now!)
  • Both of our large charcoal stoves quit working properly and needed repairs at the same time, so Charity and Mama Santa had to start cooking lunch at 4am to feed everyone.

That’s not just TIA (This Is Africa) – life just comes at us all sometimes, and getting through every day is a big achievement.

But what is essential — and one of the most noticeable things about our program — is the JOY. Visitors universally comment on it. In the midst of lives that are at best challenging and at worst dangerous and terrifying, our girls laugh and dance and dive into creativity and hug enthusiastically.

Never underestimate the power of joy!

Thank you so much for your ongoing support and encouragement of our work at Touch the Slum. We couldn’t do it without you!

Mwebele nnyo!


PS. We are spending some of the funds that have some in for the flood victims’ project (on and off the DonorSee platform) in the morning for another round of food, adding Neema’s family to our list of recipients after last night’s flooding. (Fortunately, they were able to move their mattresses and personal items higher, but unfortunately lost all their food.) To help these families, please click the button.


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The 1st is for food


The first of the month is always for food restocking, at Touch the Slum and our two Primary Schools.

For about $1550, we give approximately 830 meals every week day, plus 125 on weekends. That’s a LOT! (About 4500!)

Not only do we have to buy it, but since all the dried goods are purchased at once, we have to have it delivered, carried, stored, protected. Produce like matoke, greens, tomatoes, and onions are bought weekly and kept fresh. Our cooks start very early cooking up breakfasts, move right on to lunch, and then, at Touch the Slum, get cracking on dinner for the residential girls and night staff.

Whew! I makes me tired just thinking about it!

But we do this, 365 days a year, for one reason:

These kids often get NO meals a day at home. In the Namuwongo slum, in Rwakobo village, in the Mbarara slum, parents and aunties and caregivers struggle every day to keep a roof over their heads and even one set of clothing per person on little backs.

This type of poverty — the type with no relief, no outside help, no hope for anything different of better — leads to abuse, alcoholism, abandonment, and even worse.

So one or two meals a day, most days of the week is about more than nutrition or a handout. It’s about kids who can focus on learning, which can lead to a better, self-sustaining future. It’s about a home life with just a bit less stress and tension. It’s about an incentive that keeps kids coming to classes even when their families may want them to fetch water or work in a quarry or help herd cattle.

We can do this because of you and your support. It may seem like a small thing, making a donation… But it means the world to these kids. We can’t thank you enough!

Mwebele nnyo!


PS Our food expenses come out of our general budget. Other than shortfalls caused by inflation, we don’t do DonorSee projects for food. If you’d like to become a monthly donor (or give a one-time gift) to help, just click below!


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Q&A on Mikisa Farm


Here in NC, spring has sprung! Apple and pear trees are blooming, the Carolina jessamine vines — beautiful yellow flowers — are popping up everywhere, and yes, the pine pollen has started to turn everything yellow.

In just the past few days I’ve had a lot of questions about our little Mikisa Farm in Uganda, so I thought I’d do a Q and A for you. Meanwhile, go out and get your hands in the dirt!

Q: What are you growing now?

A: We’re now in dry season, so the cabbages are finishing up and the wet season’s collards are done. Collards are great nutrition and easy to grow, so Farmer Derrick is putting in a new crop of them for “spring.” He’ll also be planting beans, maize, more eggplants, and some other types of greens. Our fruit trees should start bearing, and we can harvest cassava and matoke soon.

Q: What fruits do you have on the property?

A: We have papaya, mango, oranges, avocado, and sweet bananas. Matoke are a kind of banana but more starchy, like a tasteless plantain.

Q: How do you keep the plants watered during dry season since it’s, you know, DRY?

A: We have two irrigation tanks that are connected to a solar-powered drip irrigation system that waters the fields. The second tank is newer and will help us cultivate more of the property than we have been able to.

Q: Are you training any of the girls or staff on growing food?

A: Yes! Our staff loves (LOVES) to go to the farm and help with all the tasks, even hand clearing brambles and hoeing up the fields. We are going to run a pilot program for five students during the term break and a couple of months following to finalize a curriculum to add to Skills for Life.

Q: The farm cost a lot of money and you have to pay Farmer Derrick. Is it worth it?

A: YES! The farm has helped us tremendously since Derrick started as our full time farmer in January 2023. Every week he is able to deliver fresh produce to the Touch the Slum compound, which has kept our weekly expense for those goods at the market down at manageable levels. The Sunday deliveries are a highlight for the residential girls, who get a Sunday dinner with whatever has been added to our larder.

We want to thank you all for your ongoing support of Mikisa Farm. You not only helped us buy it, finish the farmhouse, dig the well, install the latrine, and hire Derrick, you have come through every time we have needs. It has made an enormous impact, and we honestly couldn’t do it without you.

Mwebele nnyo!


PS We have a project up to upgrade our solar at the farm. This will allow us to put in more lights, both for Derrick at the farmhouse and for security farther out into the property. We still need about $300 — if you want to help, just click the button!

Solar Upgrade

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Farming for food


I grew up in a farming family — citrus growers in Florida — and am always growing something either hydroponically or outdoors. North Carolina, where I live, is a heavily agricultural state, so we have access to many wonderful farms and farmers markets.

But let’s be real… For virtually everyone in the US, we are growing for pleasure, for fun, for the taste of a fresh picked strawberry. But we can get food, any time, in any number of stores.

For the families of our girls in the slum, the cheapest things to buy are posho (finely ground maize) and beans. If they’re lucky, there’s one tomato and a small onion cooked into the beans, perhaps some semawiki (collards). But that’s “special” and doesn’t happen often.

We’ve always had a small “grocery” budget at Touch the Slum, which covers produce from a small local market. Like everything else over the last few years, the prices have gone up. You can’t grow food in the slum… so you have to transport it from villages, then the vendors have to walk or take a boda to get it from a Central market. All that adds to the cost.

When we started Mikisa Farm in last 2022, we did it to provide the nutrition that fresh produce brings, and that is so lacking in the typical diet of those living in Namuwongo. Now, thanks to your generous donations to get the farm, finish the farm house so we could have a full time farmer, and for seeds and tools and irrigation, we are getting weekly fresh produce.

It’s literally a life changing thing!

Ten Eighteen and Touch the Slum are not “rack up big numbers to get big grants” organizations. We are small, but we are deeply touching and changing lives every day. We don’t focus on one quick fix… We focus on deep change and education that will ensure a sustainable future for our girls.

We can do that because of YOU, and we can’t thank you enough!

Mwebele nnyo!


PS One of our Literacy girls, Anita, became homeless and her mom brought her to live at Touch the Slum so she could continue her education. The project for her entry package (toiletries, mattress, clothes, etc) is 65% funded and just needs $95 to be complete. We’d love your help!

Anita’s Entry Package

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Bringing Joy Never Gets Old


This picture may be our Photo of the Year for 2023 – Monica captured the unadulterated, absolute joy in this family when we surprised them with food, mattresses, household goods, and shoes.

14-year-old Rachelle, one of the students in our Literacy program, lives with her aunt and 7 cousins in a pretty bad part of the slum. (Yes, there are bad parts even in the slum!) While it’s nicer in dry season because they have a little bit of space, it floods in rainy season, and the house is mud-and-stick and not secure or made to last.

The family has virtually nothing to their name. (You can see some videos on Instagram – click the icon below.)

But thanks to a quickly-funded project on DonorSee, we were able to get them things they need – NEED, not just want – and able to surprise them after Rachelle got home from Touch the Slum.

This project was only $375 – to bring food, mattresses, household goods, and shoes for 9 people.

And to bring JOY.

Tears. Running to the team with open arms, shouting thanksgiving, children dancing and crying and laughing all at the same time.

This is what you all do. I know you can’t feel it like my team, or see or smell or experience it. (I so wish you could!) But this is the WHY that you share with us, the simple yet profound ways we can join together to change lives.

Mwebele nnyo,


PS We have a large project up for another irrigation tank at the farm. With large projects, they have to be 10% funded to show to the wider DonorSee platform. We’re at 5% — the project total is only $1274 total, so small for a “large” project! Can you help? $65 will get us full exposure so we can get the tank in to help with this dry season.

Bring the water!

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As often happens when we have a BRILLIANT IDEA™, we underestimated the need. I know… you’d think we’d learn! But when the need is so great, it can truly be hard to put a number on it.

When we opened our daycare last month, we expected a few kids for each session (morning and afternoon) of Skills for Life. Oh, let’s say 6-8. We, of course, made the daycare available for our staff and the moms who have graduated out of the residential program.

Some days, we have as many as 30 kids in daycare. Yep. THIRTY. And they all get 2 meals a day, which is awesome and we wouldn’t change a thing.

Except our budget. We definitely need to change our budget!

We have a project up on DonorSee to restock the food for our little ones in daycare. We need about $200 to fully fund it — CAN YOU HELP?

You can become a monthly donor using the button below. That really helps us know our base budget and things like regular food purchases.

As always, thank you for your support!




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