PS Emergency admissions and residential girls like Brenda cost us $50 a month to care for. Please donate today to help us care for the eight teen moms and their babies who are in residence! 100% of your donation goes to the program. Mwebele nnyo!
Martha, like so many teen girls, got pregnant during the pandemic lockdowns in 2020 at 16 years old. She moved to the Namuwongo slum to get a job to try to support her family, but was taken advantage of instead.
Now she’s learning Hairdressing at Touch the Slum and looking forward to a sustainable future.
This is her story.
PS Martha’s education at Skills for Life costs us $35 a month. By donating today or Tuesday — on Giving Tuesday! — you help us keep Martha and the girls like her in the program.
This week we welcomed 17-year-old Alice and her newborn baby (no name as yet!) into our residential program as emergency admissions. Alice had been given her final eviction notice by her landlord, who didn’t care a bit that she’d just had a c-section.
Earlier this year, Alice fled the conflict in the Congo because a Congolese man living in Uganda told her he could get her a job as a housemaid. She made her way to him in Namuwongo, where — surprise! — there was no job. Instead, he kept her with him, abused her, and got her pregnant.
A week before she delivered, he left to go shopping and never returned.
Alice doesn’t speak any local languages, and had to make her own way to the public hospital when she went into labor. There, she delivered by c-section and was released the next day. She took herself home, where there was no money or food.
After a week, she reached out to a lady who had helped her with food a couple of times. The lady is a women’s leader in the community and knows about our work at Touch the Slum. Fortunately, she called the office right away to let the staff know she was bringing Alice to the compound.
After the interview, Sarah returned to Alice’s home to pack up her meager belongings before the landlord returned to kick her out. She’s now settled into the Ross House, and the baby is being treated for malaria by Nurse Brenda. With food and clean water, Alice is able to nurse again, and they are resting and recovering.
This is, unfortunately, an all too common story.
Teen girls are at the bottom of the social ladder, used, abused, disposable once they get pregnant. Thousands of babies are unclaimed by a father, and there is no governmental or societal pressure to provide for them.
But thanks to YOU and your support, we had room to bring Alice and the baby in. We can feed her, give them clean clothes, provide diapers for the baby, give them medical care, and Mama Santa can teach her to care for her newborn.
You are (truly!) lifesavers, and we can’t thank you enough.
PS We have a project up to fund the cost of Alice’s entry package, which included a mattress and bedding, clothes, and personal supplies, as well as things for the baby. If you’d like to contribute, just click below!
After her father passed away, Harriet moved to the Namuwongo slum to live with her mother in a teeny tiny home. Her mother didn’t make enough to meet their basic needs, so Harriet “got a boyfriend” who could help provide some of the necessities of life, such as food and sanitary pads.
After she found out she was pregnant, the boy fled. Our social worker Sarah found Harriet in a squalid, bedbug infested, teeny tiny home with a one-week old baby who wasn’t thriving.
Harriet and the baby moved into the Ross House, and she moved through Literacy, Basic, and Advanced Tailoring. She is now running her own small tailoring business in the family’s home village.
This is her story.
It’s your support and encouragement that keep Touch the Slum open and providing such critical care and services to vulnerable teen girls in the slum. We so appreciate all you do for Ten Eighteen and Touch the Slum!
PS Just $35 pays for a month for a teen girl at Touch the Slum! 100% of your donation goes to the program, always. To give today, just click the button!
I wanted to send this off-cycle announcement because it’s so exciting!
We have a new large project on DonorSee:
We are going to move our 12 residential girls to a new compound, just for them!
We opened the Ross House first, in October 2020, for teen moms in crisis. Since then we have added 2 more residential dorms, five skills, and have over 100 people in the small compound every day. It’s fun, loud, chaotic, and wonderful… but it makes it difficult for the residents to find any quiet time or splace, especially when they first come to us and are in crisis.
The project is $11,500 and will pay for the house, staff (Mama Santa and a security guard), utilities, food, furniture (living and kitchen), and everything else we’ll need for ONE YEAR.
We already have 10% funded — we’d love you to check out the video! Just click the button below.
I don’t know about you, but when I go shopping for clothes, I browse, scrutinize, reject, make piles, sort, try on… it’s exhausting! (And let’s not get started on bathing suit season…!)
Did you ever stop in the middle of TJMaxx and think, “Wow, this is quite a luxury?” Yeah, me neither.
When girls who join our residential program get to the point where they are in crisis and come to us, they have nothing but the clothes on their backs. And those are almost always infested with bed bugs, so into the fire barrel they go.
From Day 1, they have to rely on us for literally everything from a toothbrush to shoes to sanitary pads to clothes for their children. Choice, as a concept, is pretty limited — but that’s true for everyone living in the Namuwongo slum.
Donations have been slower this year, and inflation and wars make people justifiably afraid. Some of our larger projects, like clothing for the babies, have been slow to fund.
As you always do, you came through with much-needed clothes for our babies yesterday (hence the belated newsletter). And let me tell you how they shop:
Call a vendor on the phone.
Tell them we have a dozen babies and toddlers who need clothes.
Wait a few hours.
Receive a (literal) vacuum sealed brick of clothing in a tightly wrapped bundle.
Team up with friends to even lift it off the boda and carry it inside.
Carefully cut open the clothes from the UK and see what surprises wait inside. (You can watch the video on our Instagram page!)
It was like an early Christmas, and the clothing spread out everywhere gave the girls plenty of choice for their little ones. We also have some put aside for later needs.
Not every “win” is an exciting gotcha moment, but for girls who have learned to expect nothing from life, what you provide by supporting their basic needs as well as their education is HOPE. In humanity, in their futures, and for their children.
Kalunji, above on the left, has died. I think I shared recently that she had reunited with her brother and made the decision to return to her family village with him. She’s only been gone a few weeks.
But about 20 minutes ago, Ronald got word that she has died of a liver infection. (We’re trying to get the medical papers now.)
I’m really speechless… Kalunji came to us when she was 15 and four months pregnant. Initially she was living with her elderly jaja, but when the jaja passed on, she moved in with us. She was in our first Literacy class in 2022, then went on to Hairdressing. She had her baby, Rahim, with us, with Nurse Sherry helping her get to a private hospital. She had a brilliant smile.
We are all devastated, of course. I’d appreciate your thoughts and prayers for the girls and staff at Touch the Slum, as well as for Rahim and other family members.
Harriet came to live with us last year when she was 16 years old, with a one week old baby. Her mother was sick, the family had no food, and things were desperate.
Having never been to school, Harriet joined Literacy, then went on to Tailoring. She graduated from Basic Tailoring when we were there in April and is now in Advanced Tailoring – here she’s learning to use an interlocking machine. She’s quiet but smart and focused and happy, and doing really well.
But now her mother is making her leave.
Her mother has decided to return to her village with Harriet and her siblings, so that Harriet can support the family with tailoring. (Reminder, Harriet is now just 17 years old and not finished with her training…)
These are the situations that are so discouraging for me and for the team. As a mom in the West, I can’t imagine making my child leave an opportunity to take care of me. For the team, who sees what happens to these girls in villages, they worry for Harriet’s future health and safety.
And you know what? There’s nothing we can do about it. That sucks.
Damalie and Sarah spent a long time yesterday talking to Harriet, and she said she has no choice but to do what her mother is asking of her. Legally, it’s a little grey, but in their culture, it’s unambiguous. Harriet will, at 17, become responsible for feeding, housing, and clothing five other people.
So what do we do now?
We are putting together a video for DonorSee to get Harriet a non-electric sewing machine and basic supplies. She will also take her mattress with her, and the clothing and other items she’s been given in the year since she arrived. We normally do a “exit package” that include food and household goods, but we feel the machine is the most important thing.
Please check our Instagram and DonorSee pages tomorrow for this project. We’d appreciate your help and, if possible, your sharing it so we can send Harriet off with hope for her future.
Did you know that in Uganda, girls and women still don’t inherit land? While *technically* a father, brother, or uncle can leave a female his land, if there is any male relative living, no matter how distant a relation, he can contest the will and win.
Did you know that in Uganda, polygamy is legal?
Did you know that in Uganda there are still child brides, a “bride price”, and dowries?
That’s why this photo is so important. We are engaging and enlisting young men to stand with us against teenage pregnancy. We are educating them about the value of girls, the dangers of casual sex (Uganda has the highest per capita rate of HIV/AIDS in the world, among other STDs), and the pitfalls of teenage parenthood.
And they’re listening!
I’m not going to tell you that we have changed all 30,000 people in the Namuwongo slum, 80% of whom are 18 and under. But I can tell you that every month we have more young men stepping into our compound and learning. More young men engaging in our community sensitization campaigns. And more young men volunteering at Touch the Slum.
Culture change is hard and slow and frustrating. But it can happen! Thanks to you and your support, it’s happening every day in our little corner of Namuwongo – you can be proud of your impact!
PS We are facing challenging times as the economic woes continue in the countries from which we get most of our donations. Becoming a monthly donor, even $10/month, helps us more than you can imagine. Or you can increase your current monthly donation. Just click below! Sign up is easy and fast, and you’ll be touching lives in the slum every day.
I am devastated to tell you that we lost baby Alpha today. His 16-year-old mom, Sylvia, is inconsolable.
Alpha suddenly spiked a high fever this morning with convulsions. Sherry got the fever down and she and Mama Santa rushed him to the hospital. The hospital REFUSED TO TREAT HIM because the pediatrician wasn’t there. By the time they got to the second hospital, he had no pulse.
Our community is in shock and mourning. They are holding a vigil all night tonight.
Please pray for Sylvia and everyone in our very close-knit Touch the Slum family.