Holistic Literacy


Last fall I started using the term HOLISTIC LITERACY to try to describe what our Namuwongo Skills for Life program is about. It’s probably a little different for a teen girl living in the slum than it would be for someone in a developed country, so I want to explain both the what and the why.


Many of the girls in our residential and Skills for Life programs have never been to school. Of course, that means no reading, writing, and arithmetic, but in Uganda that also means no English.

Why? English is, after all, Uganda’s official language.

But there are 60+ tribal languages spoken in Uganda. The Namuwongo slum is like every other slum — a mix of displaced and desperate people who come to Kampala to try to have a better life. People tend to spend time with those of their own tribe and language. They do not speak English.

English is learned in school. In fact, it is actually illegal for schools to teach the tribal languages. They speak, read, and write in English.

BOTTOM LINE —> No school = no English

But there’s more to literacy (for us, at least!) than the three Rs and English. We add a meaningful vocational skill so girls have a lifetime of income potential.

If needed for immediate survival, we teach a smaller skill that can start bringing in some money right away.

We conduct health and hygiene workshops so girls — and boys — can physically take care of themselves.

We are adding a computer lab in 2022 to bring digital literacy and enable routine things like national ID card updates and job applications to be done by the girls themselves.

And we will begin using Neema Development’s Entrepreneur training this spring to bring basic business literacy to the girls.


If you read through that list again, these are things that you probably already know. You may not have been taught them, per se, but you picked it up along the way. You already live in a world of holistic literacy, and you use these skills every single day.

We believe the teen girls and teen moms in our program deserve that opportunity as well. They are smart, motivated, and hard-working, and they know the alternative. They are choosing a better life and doing what’s required every day!

THANK YOU for partnering with us as well change lives AND change the culture. If you want to make a donation, click the button – 100% goes to the programs!


For two years now, LITERACY has been on our minds. I started using the phrase “holistic literacy” last year as a way to describe a literacy that encompassed the whole of life.

  • We provide several forms of literacy to our residential teen moms:
  • they learn a skill in Skills for Life
  • they learn parenting skills
  • they learn household skills like cooking and budgeting
  • they learn coping skills to recover from past trauma and deal with life in the slum

Skills for Life has been providing vocational skills – 40 girls learned a skill/trade in 2021.

But most of our girls have never been to school, or were only able to go for a couple of years. They can’t read, write, or do basic math.

Many of them don’t speak English at all, which excludes them from a lot of public life and job opportunities since it is the “1st language” of Uganda.

Girls who can read are computer illiterate because they have no access to the digital world. With more and more things going online, including government services, they are excluded, too.

That’s why we are SO excited that THIS WEEK our Basic Literacy Program has launched!

20 girls have started on a journey that will open up the world to them in ways they could never have imagined.

We are so grateful to Expat Money for raising the funds for this project and so proud and excited at what these girls will achieve.

Our computer lab project is up on DonorSee — it’s a big, ambitious project, but we believe it’s a vital part of our holistic literacy campaign. We won’t get shown to the wider DonorSee audience until we’ve reached 10% of our goal, so if you’d like to help us just click the button below.

THANK YOU for your continued support!


Bringing the 21st century to the slum!

Friend, can you imagine life without a computer or the internet? Sure, a lot of us are old enough to remember way back when to the dark ages… but can we imagine going back to that time?

Uganda has used the pandemic lockdowns to drive a lot of in-person activity online: registration for national ID, school services, job applications, and even some health service information.

The problem is, most of Uganda doesn’t have

  • power
  • internet
  • computers
  • computer literacy

Our goal at Ten Eighteen’s Touch the Slum Namuwongo project is to educate the teen moms and girls in our programs so that they can create a sustainable income and improve their quality of life. We feel that becoming computer literate is a key for all the girls as they grow into self-sufficiency.

This project is now up on DonorSee! Check it out — remember, you can give “in honor of” another person, so it makes a perfect holiday gift!