Teen Pregnancy

Moms Helping Moms Is Key

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As an only child, I didn’t get to experience sisterhood. When I had my kids, my grandmother was there to help (and yell at doctors, but that’s another story). I never really minded not having a sister, although I did dream of having an identical twin so we could alternate school days… 😀

Most of our residential teen moms, like Kalunji and Leticia above, are either orphans or estranged from their families. They came to us totally alone, homeless, and either pregnant (Kalunji) or sick (Leticia). No one has prepared them to be a mom.

But at the Ross and Suubi Houses, we have girls in all stages of “new mom.” We have girls aged 15 to 19 in residence now — there’s a big difference in those ages, and it’s great to have older girls who can help the younger ones.

Mama Santa has been in the same situation our residential girls find themselves in. She had Ronald when she was just 14! As our House Mother and Cook she brings invaluable experience, empathy, knowledge, and a touch of “buck up” to our residential program. We all need all of those things!

Our residential program is completely donor supported. It costs us about $50/month for each teen mom and her child, and some of the girls are with us for 18 months. If you want to become a sponsor of our residential program, you can do it quickly and easily on DonorSee – just click the button! 100% of donations go to the program, so you are making a huge impact every single day.

Sponsor the Teen Moms

Moms Helping Moms Is Key Read More »

Bounced Around…

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In early April 2022 we had a referral of a teen girl who was four months pregnant and homeless. (We’ll call her Angela.) Unfortunately, we had no available beds to bring her into Touch the Slum, but we were able to refer her to another program called Wamukisa.

Angela lived at Wamukisa while she was pregnant, and gave birth at Amani, who offers free childbirth to low-risk teen girls.

Unfortunately, Wamukisa doesn’t keep girls once they’ve given birth, and Amani only keeps them for labor, delivery, and a short recovery period.

That left Angela homeless once again, and she’s spent the last 6 months bouncing around between friends and evictions.

Unfortunately, this is commonplace.

Angela is homeless now and came to the compound today. Fortunately, we have a bed this time and are arranging for an at least temporary stay as we work out if she has any family she can return to.

Girls like Angela face a huge amount of fear and uncertainty. They have not been to school and have little or no family (Uganda has a huge population of orphans and the youngest population in the world, with 65% under 18). This leaves them open to exploitation and abuse, disease, and potential death on the street.

While we don’t know yet if Angela will stay with us, we try to minimize the stress and anxiety of a life of homelessness for our girls. Our residents are with us an average of a year, and don’t move out until they have the skills necessary to earn an income they can live on. They have access to Touch the Slum forever – the clinic, the daycare, even dropping by for lunch.

They have a safe place to call home, and a safe community in which to thrive.

I’ll keep you posted on Angela’s story – you are the reason girls like Angela can have a safe place to come for help, whether during an emergency or for a year.

Webele nyo!

Jennings

PS You can help us help girls like Angela by becoming a monthly donor today! Just click the button – it’s quick and easy.

BECOME A MONTHLY DONOR

Bounced Around… Read More »

Look How We Grew in 2022!

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Dear {{contact.first_name}},

Y’all are the best!

After a whirlwind giving season, which I actually started in August with a Masterclass through Donorbox, I just sat down and got the books caught up. (Just as an aside, I really hate bookkeeping! Anybody else?!)

Here’s what I discovered – and it was even better than I guessed:

Y’all donated $83,332 in 2021 and $125,367 in 2022….. Um HOLY COW.

You:

  • purchased a farm
  • provided desks, windows, and blackboards at Wells of Hope
  • started a Literacy program, computer lab, Advanced Tailoring program, daycare, and clinic
  • helped treat countless illnesses
  • bought water bottles
  • funded graduations
  • gave a home to homeless teens with our dorm
  • provided for funerals and burials
  • created a safe place for rape victims
  • provided opportunities for 150 teens in Skills for Life
  • and allowed us to serve over 25,000 meals!

That’s not even all of it, because your generosity pays for the $1.50 a month trash service, water bills, septic pump outs, salaries, certification renewals, community outreach programs, continuing education, and more. It’s all day, every day, 365 days of the year.

Tweyanzizza nnyo, tweyanzeege — we are so grateful, thank you very much!

We’re so excited to see what 2023 brings and so thankful that you’re on this journey with us.

Webele nyo,

Jennings

PS Becoming a monthly donor really helps us with budgeting and it’s very easy! Just click the button!

I want to be a monthly donor!

Look How We Grew in 2022! Read More »

Brenda Needs Your Help

When 15-year-old Brenda’s baby was just one week old, her mother beat her severely and threw them both out into the street in the middle of the night with nothing but the clothes they were wearing.

Fortunately, the local LC lady knew about our program and brought her to us in the early morning hours. Brenda got shelter, clothing, food, and, in the morning, medical treatment from Nurse Sherry at our clinic.

Next term, Brenda will start in Skills for Life, and she’s taking part in the Literacy program, too. All at no cost to her!

We have had several dozen teen moms in our residential and vocational programs. Some come to us homeless, desperate, and ill, like Brenda. Some live with a parent, an auntie, or a friend and have a somewhat stable (if challenging) home life.

All have little hope of a future outside of a cycle of sex work and unplanned babies, probably with HIV/AIDS thrown in at some point.

Until Touch the Slum!

We are the only organization in Namuwongo — home to over 30,000 people — working with teen moms. We are the only organization in the slum that offers free vocational and literacy training. And we are the only organization that has a free residential program for both teen moms and for Skills for Life students who become homeless while enrolled.

How do we do it? YOU!

Your generosity impacts the lives of these destitute teen moms every single day. It creates a safe harbor, opportunity, stability, education, medical care, food, and hope.

Every dollar you give to Ten Eighteen — 100% — goes to teen moms like Brenda who just need a hand up so they can create a sustainable life for themselves.

Your year end donation will enable us to keep saving lives and offering opportunity — not with handouts, but with hand-ups.

Will you give today?

YES! I’LL GIVE TODAY!

Thank you so much!

Webele nyo,

Jennings

PS Please share this email with your family and friends and let them know why you support Ten Eighteen. Word of mouth is a precious gift that keeps on giving!

PSS As I wrote in the Subject line, last night we had our 200th project on DonorSee funded! The farm project is 85% funded and we have a donor who has said if we can “get closer” he’ll close it out by year end. Can you give a little extra to help us have a fully funded farm going into 2023?

FUND THE FARM!

Brenda Needs Your Help Read More »

End of the Year at Touch the Slum

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The girls get water bottles thanks to partners on DonorSee

When we homeschooled, I learned an important lesson: It’s almost impossible to do any “real” learning between Thanksgiving and Christmas! And I remember that as a child, too. While we all counted down to Christmas, it was really Thanksgiving (in the US) that was the start of the holiday distraction season.

Our girls are way more motivated to learn than we were!

We celebrated Thanksgiving with a feast, and tomorrow we’re having a Christmas lunch for all our students and residents. Then we start our Christmas break, which will go to January 9th. They’re already sad to go! (Don’t worry, the most vulnerable girls will be coming back daily for a meal.)

If you’re new here, you’ll soon find out that we believe in fun, celebration, and gratitude every bit as much as we believe in hard work, healing, and opportunity.

These next few weeks are important for everyone. We implemented a LOT of new programs in 2022: Literacy, Digital Literacy, Advanced Tailoring, Neema Development Entrepreneurship, the daycare, and the clinic.

Our staff has worked tirelessly to counsel, support, encourage, and teach. They’ve managed crisis situations, discovered abuse, provided love and support, and celebrated accomplishments. It’s not an easy job, but they are all from the Namuwongo community and committed to our mission.

None of this would have been possible without YOU, and all we can say is

Tweyanzizza nnyo, tweyanzeege — we are so grateful, thank you very much!

Blessings,

Jennings

PS If you haven’t visited our year end campaign page on DonorSee, head over there! It’s pretty cool, with a goal meter and all our projects! Click the box!

Year End at DonorSee

End of the Year at Touch the Slum Read More »

Update from Panama!

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I’m still in Panama until (earlyyyy) tomorrow morning. The weather has been great, the fundraiser was wonderful (donations still coming in), and yes, I’m looking forward to getting home. Because HOLY COW Christmas is right around the corner!

I don’t have a picture (yet) from the party. It was crowded and loud and I couldn’t get to my phone (and didn’t have any pockets), plus I was schmoozing and eating tacos. Mikkel’s wife was taking video though, so I should have something soon and I’ll share.

The Expat Money community has raised about $4,000 for Literacy 2.0 so far, which is amazing!

I’m going to open the project up to everyone now, so let me tell you what Literacy 2.0 is all about.

In 2022, we took 60 girls from illiteracy to speaking, reading and writing English as well as doing basic math. This is HUGE, as illiteracy is endemic in the slum, and most especially for girls.

In 2023, we want to vastly increase the number of girls we can take through this program. If we can triple it, that’s our big goal – but we’ll grow it as much as funds allow. Every girl deserves Literacy, and we’ll continue working to make that possible.

You can donate now by clicking the button!

As always, 100% goes to the program. We thank you so much for all your support and encouragement — because of you, 2023 is looking like the best year yet!

YES to Literacy 2.0!

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16-year-old teen mom Jackie in Literacy class with her daughter

Blessings,

Jennings

PS Did you know we have a (small!) YouTube channel? Check it out here!

Update from Panama! Read More »

It’s Giving Tuesday! (woohoo!)

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Jackie is a 16-year-old teen mom in our Literacy class. Sometimes she leaves her daughter in our free daycare, and sometimes she takes her to class. She’s not the only one – every class averages one baby or toddler every day!

But Jackie has never been to school, didn’t know how to read or speak English, and never dreamed she would have the chance to learn. Whatever she has to do to be in class she does.

We have 75 students at Touch the Slum. We are the only organization in Namuwongo that focuses on teen girls, offers free literacy and vocational training, has a residential program, and does community outreach.

How do we do all that?

YOU!

This year alone we have:

  • had over 140 completely projects funded on DonorSee,
  • seen our farm 3/4 funded,
  • increased the number of monthly donors by 50%,
  • received hundreds of pounds of donated clothing, diapers, and sanitary pads,
  • and had the privilege of speaking to several hundred people in person about out our work.

Most of this has happened because you gave, you told people about our work, you invited me to speak, or you thought of the girls while cleaning out closets or shopping.

This year, we have a generous donor who has offered to match all gifts up to $5,000!! That means every dollar you give is doubled!

Can we count on you for a year-end gift?

As always, 100% of your donation goes to the program. You can make sure we’re ready when the next teen mom like Jackie comes to us for help! Just click below, or mail a check to Ten Eighteen, 3500 Rock Creek Drive, Raleigh, NC 27609.

Tweyanzizza nnyo, tweyanzeege — we are so grateful, thank you very much!

Jennings

YES, I want to donate now!

PS I’ll be doing an Instagram Live today with Ronald at 12:30pm EST – pop over and say hi!

It’s Giving Tuesday! (woohoo!) Read More »

Tuesday is, well, Giving Tuesday!

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I hope your Thanksgiving was filled with family, friends, fun, and zero-calorie food! Jackline and the teen moms in the Ross and Suubi Houses celebrated too, just not with turkey. (There actually are turkeys in Uganda, but trust me, you wouldn’t want to eat them!)

Giving Tuesday is coming up and we’ve got a matching grant! This is the kickoff to Giving Season and a great time for you to make your year-end donation to Ten Eighteen – especially since your money will be doubled up to $5,000! You can also choose to become a monthly donor through DonorBox or a monthly sponsor for a project on DonorSee. (As I used to say when I had my bakery, I’ll take everything but wampum!)

2022 has been a HUGE year for Touch the Slum. Thanks to you we are now housing 12 teens and their children, we have 65-75 students at the compound daily, and we are growing all kinds of things at our farm. In our wildest dreams, we wouldn’t have thought that you would get us this far this fast.

Yesterday, what we were most thankful for was you.

Your support is truly astonishing!

Webele nyo,

Jennings

PS If you’re not already following us on Instagram, it’s a great way to see your support in action. We post videos every day! You don’t have to have the app or have an account – you can just visit on the web and check it out.

Tuesday is, well, Giving Tuesday! Read More »

Who do you know?

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Back before the social media days — and yes, there were days before social media! — there used to be a lot of talk about networking. In my (few) months of a misguided attempt to be a Real Estate Agent in the ’80s, it was alllll about networking.

Now days, I think we just assume everyone is connected all the time. And we are, in some ways… But are we really sharing the important stuff or just enjoying cat memes? (I love a good cat meme!)

With the Season of Giving upon us, I’d like to ask you a favor.

Would you “network” the old-fashioned way for us for just a few minutes? Could you:

  • Forward one of our emails to friends and family with a “Hey, I support this great work in Uganda and think you’d be interested?”
  • Like, Comment, and Share some of our social media posts, especially around Giving Tuesday next week? (buttons below)
  • Head to our Bonfire shop and grab a shirt or bag — then tell a few people about us when you wear it?

Word of mouth is THE most valuable tool in growing our work in the Namuwongo slum. There’s a lot of noise in the world these days, and your recommendation helps us cut through that.

We are so thankful for your support and encouragement! You’ve made 2022 such an incredible and impactful year for our girls at Touch the Slum. We can’t do it without YOU!

Webele nyo!

PS Cecilia is getting ready to move out on her own after over a year in our residential program. She’s in charge of our daycare and is going to continue that work plus keep her own small business. We’ve got a project up on DonorSee to bless her with an exit package (mattress, sheets, some household food, and food). If you can contribute $20 that would help her so much! Click the button!

Bless Cecilia with goodies!

Who do you know? Read More »

How Can You Make an Impact Today?

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When she was kicked out of the local councilwoman’s house, 15-year-old Sylvia thought she would be left on the streets to have her baby.

The LC had found her near her office, homeless and 4 months pregnant, and taken her in. But her husband didn’t want Sylvia around. Fortunately, the LC is familiar with our program and brought Sylvia to Touch the Slum, where she has lived for the past 6 months.

Sylvia is the newest teen mom living at the Ross House, having given birth just last month. She came to us with nothing but the clothes on her back, but now she and the baby are safe, cared for, well fed, and Sylvia has done really well in Literacy class.

Teen moms in the slum live on a razor’s edge, with disaster always right around the corner. The Ross House is a residential program for teen moms in crisis, just like Sylvia. It is an entry point into Touch the Slum, where teen girls receive emergency medical care, food, clothing, lodging, and vocational training.

We don’t know when disaster will strike a teen mom, but you can help us be ready! Your donation of $50 can pay for a month of crisis care at the Ross House. Click the button below!

Blessings,

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PS Make your year end donation today to give a safe harbor and a new start to girls like Sylvia!

Save teen moms in crisis today!

How Can You Make an Impact Today? Read More »