Village Life

Working In the Wild West

After our “fun with food” at Hopeland School last Wednesday, we spent Thursday out at Rwakobo Village and Wells of Hope School. This photo is the home of one of the parents from the school, who has 3 kids there.

This village is, essentially, “a refugee camp without the UN.” (Per Gilbert, the Assistant Director at the school.) It was planted inside the then newly formed Lake Mburo National Park forty years ago, when the government needed something to do with refugees from the Rwandan genocide. They put them in the middle of this game park with no well, no clinic, no school, and lots of rules. That was pretty much the last time the government has done anything for the people there.

Anyway, we combined our planned 2-day visit into one because Director Gideon’s wife was suffering terribly with gall stones and they were going to have to go to Kampala on Friday. It meant a long day, a 2 mile walk, a lot of sun, and a lot of these kinds of houses.

We toured the school, which has come a long way since our last visit, with one real brick building in service and a second nearing completion. (DonorSee project on the way for the floors and blackboards soon!) There are 340 students in buildings that would legitimately hold 150, but it’s pretty hard to turn them away.

In the West, this classroom would hold *maybe* 10 students, with desks and chairs. There are 40+ children in it now. All the old mud and stick classrooms look like this, so a move to the new building will be a huge help.

I’m a huge fascination out in Rwakobo — a mzungu is rare out there! So I wore my hair up, long sleeves (to cover up my tattoos which caused MUCH interest last visit!), and long pants. Still, they all wanted to touch my hands or feet, and kept surging forward to be ever-closer to us. haha It was a bit intense, but I always love to visit them.

It’s Sunday and I leave in THREE DAYS! Thank you all for your encouragement and support while I’ve been gone. We’ve funded a lot of DonorSee projects over the last two weeks, so THANK YOU!





Thanks to our generous donors, with the administrative support from Equal Aqua Uganda, and construction by The Ichupa Upcycle Project , our first ecobrick water tank is up and running with harvested rainwater!

Check out this video for the whole story:

Now, the kids at Wells of Hope School AND the residents of Rwakobo Village have access to safe water!


This was the kick-off project for our WASH Campaign. Our 2021 goals are ambitious – but that’s good, right?

  1. Ecobrick Water Tanks
  2. Pit Latrines with Handwashing Stations
  3. Deep Water Well
Gideon, school Director, checks out the growing tank

Ten Eighteen has 3 missions in Uganda: vulnerable girls and teen moms, water/sanitation/hygiene for Rwakobo, and food for three schools. In short, FOOD, WATER, SHELTER, AND EDUCATION.

It’s supporters like you, and our partners in Uganda, that allow us to accomplish this big mission, one small step at a time. We are so thankful!!

Boy in Rwakobo village


Ecobricks for a sturdy water tank!


Almost exactly a year ago (March 12, 2020), we built a small cistern at Wells of Hope School in Rwakobo Village. Nearly 40 kids were out of school with typhoid due to contaminated water, we didn’t have the funds for a well — but we DID have the funds for a small 200-liter tank that would at least provide cleaner (and on-site) water for hand washing and cooking.

Almost as soon as the work was finished, the Covid19 lockdowns started. I don’t know if the community was able to use this small bit of clean water during that time, but I hope so. It’s still there, and will still be collecting water for the BACK TO SCHOOL students. (School officially started back on March 1!)


10,000 liters!

Starting on Monday, March 8, Equal Aqua Uganda will be building a new additional tank holding 10,000 liters of rainwater captured from the roof of the new school building! We’ve written about ecobricks before… They’re made using recycled plastic bottles, filled with sand, and cemented into a large structure to give it strength. The tanks have spigots at the bottom, are fed with rainwater, and covered to prevent contamination.

While technically, that small 200-liter tank was the (unofficial) start of our WASH Campaign for Rwakobo Village, THIS TANK is the official kick-off of a multi-year, ambitious plan to bring tanks, wells, new pit latrines, handwashing facilities, and a hygiene campaign to this village.


Access to clean water and sanitation is the UN’s Sustainable Development Goal 6: “Ensure availability and sustainable management of water and sanitation for all.”

In Rwakobo Village, this goal is 100% a dream right now.



Today we welcome Gideon, Director of Hopeland and Wells of Hope Schools, and our liaison to Rwakobo Village. I’ve known Gideon for about ten years when he was a teacher/tutor at Father’s House in Kampala. We’ve been working together on the schools since May 2019, when my bakery began a Pound for Pound program to provide food for Hopeland School and the Arise Africa Babies Home. I’m so glad to have a chance to chat with him about Rwakobo Village!

J: When and how did the village at Rwakobo come to your attention?

G: We visited it in 2018 when our church [Celebration Tabernacle Church in Mbarara] was doing outreaches to the poorest and most needy areas in our region.

J. What was the first thing Celebration Tabernacle did in the village?

G: Together, the church fed the hungry, built a few mud houses with iron sheets for those who slept in grass huts or were basically homeless, and talked to the parents about the dangers of forced child marriages and other associated vices.

J: How many people live in Rwakobo Village?

G: Almost 3,000 now!

J: What is life like for those living there?

G: They live hand to mouth, well below the poverty line [so below $2 per day]. They hardly have any clean water, getting food is a struggle, and they have no health facilities so they depend on herbs for the treatment of illnesses.

J: What impact has the school made on the lives of the villagers?

G: They have seen the importance of education! Forced early marriages have been reduced, as well as the behaviors associated with that [like abuse, early pregnancy and related complications]. The value of girls has been resurrected!

J: How will the new school building and the reopening of the school after the Covid lockdown affect the children who attend Wells of Hope?

G: Their lives were being threatened over the last year! Not only were schools closed, but churches were also closed so they began to lose hope. They fell back in their educational achievements [school had only just started its third-ever term], and were giving up! The news of the opening will be amazing to them!

J: What impact did the Covid lockdowns and the loss of the full school year have on the children. What negative effects did you see during the last year, and what negative impacts do you anticipate because of the “lost year?”

G: Some children were starving and malnourished. Some were abandoned by their parents in their houses and left alone. Others were forced into early marriage, early pregnancy, and some girls were exchanged for food. The girls who were forced into marriage will not be able to return to school [Wells of Hope only goes to Primary 6]. We also anticipate that the little tuition some parents were able to pay will be reduced, as the parents have lost what incomes they had during the pandemic. Additionally, the families had to eat any seeds that they were saving for planting after the rainy season, so there is little income on the horizon.

J: What difference would having access to clean water, as well as good sanitation and hygiene, have on the school and village?

G: If the village didn’t have to rely on seasonal wells [ponds] and had clean water, the incidence of disease and illness would be greatly reduced! Waterborne illness is one of the biggest problems in the village and the school and accounts for many lost days of class. Diarrhea kills many children in the village. Handwashing stations and clean pit latrines would also help a lot!

J: What is the greatest need in Rwakobo Village?

G: A bigger school so all the children can attend, and funds to pay the staff. Clean water and water easily available for washing. And improved homes for the families who live in grass huts or mud homes.

J: Thank you so much for all your work in this village — and for introducing us to it last year! We can’t wait to get back there as soon as Covid allows!