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 »


Arise Africa Babies Home, Bukaleba

If you follow us on social media (and if you don’t, please do!), you saw our partner and team profiles in November and December. But every once in awhile, I want to introduce myself to anyone new, and let you know the WHY behind Ten Eighteen.

My mom and grandmother were both lifelong volunteers. My grandmother didn’t stop until was 85, and even after that, did flowers at church for many more years. (She lived to 106 1/2!) My mom is still on boards and committees at 79. While my children were younger and we homeschooled, I had this vague idea to start a nonprofit, although I didn’t really know what that nonprofit would do exactly. For about eight years, the idea percolated in the back of my brain.

In the fall of 2008, I felt like it was time, and filed the paperwork — still without a hugely clear idea of what exactly we would do beyond help some missionary friends in Thailand and Zambia. I got the 501(c)3 designation in December, and around Christmas reconnected with a friend I hadn’t seen in almost 15 years, who was living in Uganda.

The first thing Ten Eighteen ever did was rent an office space for an NGO that my friend had been working with in the slums of Namuwongo. My daughter went over to visit in May of 2009, and my son and I in September. By the time we’d spent a couple of days there, we knew that Uganda was where were meant to be!

There are a lot of things I love about Uganda (and yes, some things I’m not so fond of!). But the big WHY, besides just knowing that’s where we were called to go, is this: NO ONE CAN DO EVERYTHING, BUT EVERYONE CAN DO SOMETHING.

The problems are much too big for one small nonprofit. And for the first 44 years of my life, looking at huge problems like the Namuwongo slum, three million orphaned children, HIV/AIDS decimating the 20-40 age group, devastating poverty, lack of basic necessities and services, would have completely overwhelmed me. And, to be honest, it is still overwhelming somewhere in the back of my mind. But somehow, when we were there in the slum, visiting women and children and picking our way through indescribable filth, I knew: We could do SOMETHING. Not everything… but something. And that was enough.

In our 12 years, we have actually done a lot of things:

  • Given out over 50 microbusiness grants and loans for women to start small businesses
  • Sponsored over 100 children in school, vocational training, diploma courses, and university
  • Paid for all the fuel Hospice Jinja needed to serve all their patients in the district for 3 years
  • Built the Arise Africa Primary School in Bukaleba
  • Provided over 200,000 meals to school children; and to the elderly and teen moms during the covid19 lockdowns of 2020
  • Opened the Ross House, a training center and halfway house for teen moms and other youth from the Namuwongo slum
  • Funded a covid19 awareness campaign for Namuwongo that reached over 20,000 people
  • Built a kitchen and cistern at the Wells of Hope School in the remote and vastly underserved village of Rwakobo in Lake Mburo National Park

All with very little funding, and a lot of hard work and effort by our Partners, Team, and Donors.

I’ve been to Uganda 13 times now, and pray I’ll be able to get back sometime in 2021. My heart is there, and I’m so grateful for the opportunity I’ve had to work with such amazing people.





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