Why do we do Christmas at Touch the Slum?


There are a lot of things that make Touch the Slum different from other NGOs and community organizations in Namuwongo, but the main one is simple.

We believe in FUN.

When I say that to people, they are often skeptical. Sort of the, “Wait, I thought you were a *serious* organization!”

We ARE serious. We are also striving for something better: cultural change.

Uganda as a whole has a very clear social hierarchy. There are the village and the city people. There are the chiefs and the educated who run things, and the poor and uneducated underneath. There are the connected and the forgotten.

It is “common knowledge” that anyone living in a slum (and there are more slums in Uganda than just Namuwongo, which is the largest) deserves to be there. “Those people” are drug addicts, thieves, prostitutes… in short, they’re written off.

And guess what? “Those people” rarely get the chance to experience the full breadth of human existence. They get a heaping plateful of sorrow, struggle, starvation, and sickness. The only fun or hope they get is a few sprinklings here and there.

We reject that.

We acknowledge that life in the slum is often catastrophically hard. Our primary mission is to create opportunities for teen moms and teen girls to build a sustainable — ie less hard — life for themselves.

But we also want them to have a reason to make difficult changes in their lives. Something worth fighting for on hard days.

Love, laughter, dancing, joy, good food, an outing, pizza, chicken and chips, ice cream, new shoes… These things give dimension and color to an otherwise black-and-white monotonous existence.

So we believe in fun. We believe in dance parties. We believe in Santa Clause (hats) and Christmas trees and Thanksgiving feasts and roasted goat for Christmas Eve. We believe in game days and art and books.

In short, we believe in hope.



PS We have a dedicated “year-end” page on DonorSee now, with a goal meter and everything! You can check it out below — it shows you our progress and all our open projects. It’s pretty cool! (And we’re already more than 40% of the way there!)


PSS I did a fun podcast with Donorbox about writing newsletters (and really, writing advice in general). Thanks, Cara! You can check it out here:

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A Slow Return to Normal

In the nearly 5 months since the Covid19 crisis put Uganda into a complete lockdown, Ten Eighteen has been focused entirely on KEEPING PEOPLE ALIVE. By the end of June, we were feeding, providing charcoal, and hygiene items for nearly 525 people. In that time, we’ve sent nearly $20,000 to our partners.

To be honest, it’s been exhausting, with all that’s going on in the States as well… But what a blessing! Truly, when we talk about it, when we really see what God has allowed us to do during this unprecedented crisis, it blows my mind. We sure didn’t see that coming when we left in February!

So now…. Things are still not “normal,” but we’re easing our way back there. I think it’s important to remember that our philosophy is A HAND UP, NOT A HAND OUT. Additionally, our main mission is for education and food for those who are most impoverished. We’ve had lots of conversations with our partners at Guardian Angel Foundation and Hopeland/Wells of Hope, encouraging them (and reminding myself) that we have all been given a mission and ministry, and we need to get back to where our hearts and talents are.

Home tutoring for our P7 candidate students

As of now, the president has continued to keep schools closed. Supposedly, all homes will get a radio and all classes for all grades will be broadcast. (Yeah, we’re not holding our breaths!) However, the P7 students at Hopeland have critical testing coming up in December, which will determine if they can continue to Secondary school, so we have a team of teachers going house to house to do home tutoring for those students. We are also providing the scholastic materials necessary for this group of 20 students to continue their studies.

The president will made an address tomorrow. If schools are to remain closed, we would like to provide some home materials for the 230 P3-P6 students at Hopeland and Wells of Hope schools. The cost of this is about $600 per term, and not in our budget, but we are confident we can raise the support to allow these children to continue their education in these difficult times.

Receiving micro grants for new businesses

In the slums of Namuwongo, we are transitioning from giving away food to providing micro-business grants for our teen moms. The informal economy has slowly restarted, so it’s the perfect time for these energetic young moms to start on the road to self sufficiency. We are doing 4 grants at a time, with training and mentoring ongoing.

One thing that became apparent during this crisis is that there are many, many teen moms in the slums who are absolutely desperate. We were able to help some of them, but we are now planning for an even bigger plan: a halfway house called the Ross House, in honor of my grandmother, Ross Schlernitzauer, who died at the age of 106 in April. She spent her life volunteering, so I am thrilled to continue her legacy with this much needed home for teen moms. Stay tuned for more info as we get closer to our planned mid-November opening.

Finally, at the beginning of the crisis, we funded a lot of plants and seedlings for the babies home in Bukaleba. Now that the big rains have ended, that little farm is growing, and we are praying it will allow more self sufficiency for the babies and children at the home.

There’s a lot more going on, and a lot more to come — we are so so blessed to have you along with us, and so thankful for the donations that have come in during this very trying time. Please join our mailing list if you haven’t, so you get the latest updates. And remember, you can donate once, or set up a recurring donation. Any amount helps SO much, and 100% goes to the programs.

And our long awaited STORE is up! Please head over to shop — more items are on the way. 100% of the price of the items goes to to our programs.

Thanks for everything — y’all are amazing!



There are times when you find yourself horrified at what you don’t know…. This is one such time.

I have been to many villages in central and eastern Uganda, largely with Hospice. I’ve been inside tiny slum homes: 8×8’ where 9 people live. I’ve been in traditional round homes with thatch roofs, and regional hospitals that are best not remembered. But this village… It takes the cake.

We knew we were there for a reason as soon as we got there. We have focused on food and education, and our primary goals remain — but we have realized that if the people of the village are barely surviving, are, in fact dying of diseases brought on by contaminated water or lack of food — we also have an obligation to those people who surround the school.

We were able to get the kitchen built in record time, and on Monday, March 9, began feeding the children of Wells of Hope Primary School. It was a great day!

First day of FOOD!

But on Friday, March 13, we couldn’t feed the children. Why? There was no CLEAN WATER. Anywhere.

Over the last few days, we have been gathering information on the water situation. I learned what a “seasonal well” actually is: a depression in the ground that’s dammed up and fed by muddy trenches when it rains. The animals use it. The people use it. It’s contaminated and full of disease, amoebas, and parasites. Not even the survivalists on Naked and Afraid would drink it!

Seasonal “well”

Yesterday, they were able to catch enough rainwater to use for the meal, but today they had to fetch it from this “well.” This video shows the collecting of the water that was used to feed our kids…. That’s just NOT OK. Yes, they boiled it. It’s still not OK!

We have begun an EMERGENCY FUNDRAISING CAMPAIGN to get both a cistern for the school and a well for the village. The cistern will allow a clean catch of water during rainy season so that the porridge and any drinking water will be free of contamination. A well will give the entire village of 2700+ people fresh, clean water ALL THE TIME. During dry season, the school will use it for their daily needs, and everyone will benefit.



  • Use the Text to Give info in the photo above. Put in your own amount!
  • Use this link to our Water Project donation page. If you can select to pay the processing fee, that would be amazing!
  • Mail a check to us — please use the Contact page and we will send you our mailing address.

If you want more information, please reach out to us — we give 100% of your donations to the work, and anything we collect above the $7500 cost of this project will go to our main programs: food for 456 kids daily, education, and vocational training for teen moms in the slums.

For more day-to-day information, please FOLLOW US on Facebook and Instagrams (links below) — our social media is always the most up to date on what’s going on. Thank you for praying and partnering with Ten Eighteen as we take on this huge — but doable — endeavor!