The trucks arrived in Rwakobo around 2:00 yesterday afternoon with very little notice. Gideon quickly called Ronald, who got on a bus with Fauza and Ritah to head back west – it was 9 hours, since it wasn’t a direct bus. Villagers quickly cleared roads and the land where the drilling would happen.
After a quick lunch cooked on a charcoal stove, they started drilling.
And 30 minutes, as I was driving home from an appointment, Ronald Face Timed me (I pulled over!) and showed me the water!
Even as I watched it got cleaner and clearer. How we rejoiced!
It was very loud, and the team was getting other footage, but it was the next best thing to being there for it. I’ll have more soon, but by Sunday or Monday it should be DONE.
THANK YOU ALL for your kind support and encouragement – we hope you are celebrating with us in this historic moment for Rwakobo village.
Can you remember a time where something you longed for was finally about to arrive, and then, for no apparent reason or fault of your own, it didn’t? Frustration, anger, perhaps a few muttered words (the kind we call “magic words” in our family)… until you accept your disappointment.
But then something happened that you didn’t expect, something even better than the thing that threw you for a loop. And looking back, you realize that this — had you known about it — was the thing you needed all along.
So it is with our well at Rwakobo. Last week, my email contained the exciting news of a spot with an 80% chance of success. Everyone was ecstatic! Cue the marching band!
Until the landowner decided we were trying to “steal” his land and demanded nearly $6,000 to use approximately 1/15 of the an acre for the well. (For the record, for $7,000 we bought 2 acres of farmland in a more accessible and desirable place than Rwakobo!) No assurances by the LC (local councilman) or Gideon made any difference. Appealing to his “better nature” and community spirit was a dead end. (We think he knew a mzungu was involved, but can’t say for sure.)
So we are back to square one, with the surveyor/engineer returning and the quest for a good spot starting once again. This time, several of the LCs are getting involved, though, and the whole community is taking ownership of the project to see it through.
And this is actually better!
It’s not Ten Eighteen Uganda’s project, or Wells of Hope School’s project, or Celebration Tabernacle Church’s project. Now that one man said no to clean water for 3,000 people, those 3,000 people are invested in making it happen! It’s now Rwakobo village’s project, and that is the hope filling the holes of our frustration. We are more optimistic than ever!
We’ll keep you updated on the progress this week, and I expect to have big news soon. We appreciate your support and encouragement!
PS We have a project up for resident teen mom Leticia’s hairdressing supplies. She’s 1 1/2 weeks into the Hairdressing course and loving it! The project only needs $145 to be fully funded – we’d love your help! Webele nyo.
Over the past week I’ve made a bunch of food for my very pregnant daughter to put in her freezer for after the baby is born. Today, as I ran bananas foster muffins, burritos, and smoothie packets to her, I got the video from Gideon with the follow up for DonorSee on most recent the desks project.
It occurred to me that we were doing the same thing, Gideon and I: delivering things that were hand made for a purpose. Things you might think you could just buy at a store. (Or from Amazon…)
In Uganda, in poor rural areas like Rwakobo Village, there isn’t a desk or school supply store. There isn’t a hardware store, a clinic, a supermarket, a warehouse store, a pharmacy, or a drive through. There’s no gas station or even a well.
Even in Mbarara, which is one of Uganda’s largest cities, you can’t just buy school desks “off the rack” — they are constructed to order. We ordered these desks last week, and today they were transported and installed in Wells of Hope Primary School, ready for the kids to start the new school year on Monday.
What’s exciting is that the kids know that these desks were made especially for them. In a remote, extremely impoverished area, this isn’t something that happens very often. This village, founded with refugees from “off over there” (Rwanda), has been forgotten by the governments large and small.
BUT YOU REMEMBERED THEM!
Because of you and partners like you, the 400 kids at Wells of Hope have desks, cement floors, blackboards, windows and doors, and panes of glass. They have mosquito nets, a water tank, a kitchen, dishes, and soccer balls.
Most of all, they have the knowledge that somewhere halfway around the world there are people that they don’t know, who they will never meet, who cared enough about them to help them get an education.
That’s more valuable than gold!
PS We have 2 urgent projects on DonorSee right now: the funding for the transport and burial of Teacher Justin’s murdered brother, and helping Teacher rebuild her tailoring business after a fire destroyed her shop and 8 other businesses. We’d so appreciate your support of our teachers as they deal with these tragedies.
I’ve spent a lot of time with my Ugandan friends trying to explain the concept of seasons. (I haven’t been that successful!)
In Uganda, there are just rainy and dry seasons – two of each per year. We are coming to the last few weeks (we hope!) of this fall’s rainy season, which has been brutal.
At least 24 were killed in flooding in Eastern Uganda in August
Thousands were displaced by flooding and landslides in Western Uganda in September
Our own programs have been affected, as you can see from the picture above of Hopeland Primary School in Mbarara. Wells of Hope and the surrounding village in Rwakobo have had even more significant flooding. The work on the farmhouse was delayed significantly by rains.
You may not know it, but Kampala is about 3000 feet above sea level. I’ve only had one trip in 14 where I was hot — often I’m wearing jeans and a sweatshirt! And few windows have glass in them so the damp cold is hard to get away from when it never seems to stop raining.
We’ve had several girls struggle to control their asthma during this time, and about three times the usual number of respiratory illnesses. We’ve even had some cases of dysentery due to all the contaminated water girls have to walk through to get to class.
So… Did you know that you can sign up as a monthly sponsor of our Haven Clinic? It’s true! We are at 40% right now. There’s no minimum to be a sponsor, and it really helps us keep all our teen moms and teen girls healthy by paying Sherry’s salary and restocking the medications we use daily.
Here’s what going on at Touch the Slum (and Wells of Hope Primary School) already this month:
Our biggest-ever graduation happened on Saturday and it was amazing! I’ll be making a video to put on our YouTube channel this week, but for now, you can see the joy in the girls’ faces above as 35 graduated in Literacy, Tailoring, Advanced Tailoring, and Hairdressing. We had quite the fashion show thanks to the Advanced Tailoring girls — you’ll have to wait for the video or check out the Reel I posted on Sunday on Instagram.
The project for graduation funded 100% on Sunday, which was wonderful! We ended up having to rent a tent because of the weather, and the regular costs add up, too. So we’re really grateful for the support!
HUGE thanks go out to Board member Mikkel Thorup and his Project Manager Dom Alves (who lives in Brazil!) for a complete re-do of our website. We’d been on SquareSpace for a long time because, well, it’s easy! But it lacked functionality, and we were ready to be able to do some new things with it. It launched this past weekend, and we’re SUPER happy and grateful — check it out and let us know what you think!
Some of you will remember from my last visit that Wells of Hope had gotten a loan to build a second brick building, but didn’t have the money for the concrete floors, blackboards, windows or desks. We’ve been chipping away at that on DonorSee, funding the blackboards, and going one class at a time for desks and windows.
A local donor funded the cement floors, which was amazing. Then last week, we got the first 5 windows put in. That so inspired someone that Gideon knew that they donated the remaining 19 windows! Now all we need is 12 sets of the glass inserts, and we’re rain-proof.
We also funded the 3rd classroom’s desks! The order went in for those yesterday, so we’ll be installing them in a week or so. Then on to classroom #4.
This is HUGE for the incredibly poor village of Rwakobo – who didn’t have a school EVER until Wells of Hope opened in 2019. (And then closed for 2 years thanks to government pandemic policies.) Gideon and everyone out there is amazed by the generosity shown to their little school, and we really are so grateful.
And y’all – it’s only October 4th!
Thank you so much for following along with us on this great journey.
PS We are planning our holiday cards EARLY this year! (I know, it’s a shock!) If we don’t have your physical address, we’d love to add you to our mailing list so you can get the occasional greeting from Ten Eighteen. Just hit Reply – we won’t share, spam, or visit, we promise!
This is Francis. We’ve known Francis since early 2010, when he was living at the children’s home run by some friends. We stayed there during all of our trips through 2015 — two a year — and got to know Francis really well.
He’s a WONDERFUL young man who has had a very difficult life. He was orphaned at the age of 8 when his village and the surrounding fields were consumed by fire. He wasn’t in the village at the time but saw the fire and rushed home to try to save his family. He couldn’t, and suffered significant burns in the rescue attempt.
He stayed at the home for about 8 years where he got an education and played football. Unfortunately, one of the other boys tried to stab him to death one night before fleeing, nearly killing Francis and causing significant injury. He spent a lot of time in hospital but made a full recovery.
Not long afterwards, the home closed down and the older kids were just left to fend for themselves. Most had some family somewhere in Uganda, but Francis did not. He had nowhere to go and no one to help.
Being smart and resourceful, he worked day labor and rented a small place. We were able to reconnect thanks to a messaging app in 2020, and Ten Eighteen has been helping him since then. And that’s where YOU come in!
We posted a project on Monday on DonorSee to pay for the certificate Francis had earned in computers. It was funded in a day! Yesterday he got the funds to the school, and should have the certificate in hand by the end of the week. We are working with him to finish his secondary education, find all the lost records from the children’s home, and figure out next steps.
We also had a project for windows at Wells of Hope Primary School in Rwakobo village funded this week. It’s the first of 5 that will be needed to get all the windows completed in the new building, so we’re really excited to be making progress there. The windows will be in by Saturday!
Most of our donations on DonorSee are between $10 and $25 – sometimes we have 20 donors involved in funding a project. And we LOVE that! We love that you all are coming together, giving what you can, and making a huge and immediate difference in people’s lives.
We are so grateful for your support, whether it’s a donation, a reply to an email, a Like on a social media post, or a text or call of encouragement. We don’t take any of it for granted, and really can’t thank you enough.
As a general rule, I’m not a big fan of institutional schooling. Our family homeschooled for 13 years, and the pandemic years certainly taught us a few things about the state of education.
In Uganda, and especially in terribly poor, remote areas like Rwakobo Village, schools are critical. Especially schools like Wells of Hope that operates on a pay-if-you-can tuition system, with no mandatory uniforms, no testing fees, no “bring a broom, a case of toilet paper, and paper or you can’t come” rules.
For 40 years, this village’s children either didn’t go to school at all, or had to WALK nearly 10 miles each way to go. (It takes a half hour in the car to reach the closest town!) If they were lucky and had relatives in a town with a school, they could attend more easily, but for most, school was not even a remote possibility.
I absolutely believe that reading, writing, math, science, and geography (they learn American geography in primary school – for some reason no one knows – and don’t learn Uganda’s geography until secondary) are important. It’s a key to MORE in their lives.
But even more than that, for these village children, it’s a safety net.
They get food at school. For many, it’s the only food they get in a day.
They have advocates in their teachers and the administration, who are able to spot abuse and illness.
Gideon, Gilbert, and the other staff regularly visit the homes — even those that are 2-3 miles’ walk from the school — to check on families, to see why children have missed days, to try to help the families prioritize education.
For the girls, being in school has at least stalled childhood marriage practices. (We lost a handful of girls during the lockdown closure to this practice, and it’s heartbreaking.)
I know that many people, especially those familiar with the overall abysmal academic performance of schools in countries like Uganda struggle with the idea of helping them. For our newest board member Mikkel, the social and welfare aspects of supporting schools was new — and a game changer.
Because of the overwhelming demand when schools started back up after the 2-year break at the end of January, Wells of Hope took out a loan to build a second “real” building. (The photo above is the current P2, very overcrowded classroom!) We have been fundraising on DonorSee to get blackboards and furniture. The first classroom’s furniture project is over halfway funded — we just need $175 to complete it.
Back in August, we got invited to chat with DonorSee to see about becoming one of their partner organizations. I’d never heard of them before, but Mikkel (our newest board member) had done a podcast with DonorSee’s founder Grett, which led to the connection.
Long story short, we did our trial private project, got that funded, and launched site-wide in September. It was a pretty steep learning curve, but we were determined to figure it all out — and here we are!
TO DATE, we have:
Had 117 projects funded
Raised almost $29,000 (at the time of this writing)
Seriously, maybe I need to go away more often because just in the time I was on my trip, we raised nearly $4000 on DonorSee!
FOUR THOUSAND DOLLARS! Wow. I’m blown away!
What did you accomplish?
blackboards for the new Wells of Hope Primary building
a substantial start on part 1 of desks and chairs for the building
orphan Miriam’s medical care after she was hit by a boda
almost 60% of the transportation for Kellen to her father’s burial
medical care for teen mom Mabel’s two sick children
a metal crutch for Emmanuel, who was born with one leg
help for Clare, the teen mom living in the chicken coop
an exit package for teen mom Gloria, to set her up for independence
restocking food for our teen girls
mosquito nets for 25 students in Skills for Life
an emergency intake for 15-year-old pregnant teen Sylvia
a 4-bed dormitory for homeless students in Skills for Life
medical treatment for Jen’s UTI
Y’all, I was only gone 2 1/2 weeks! THIS.IS.AMAZING!!
Your support while I was gone, beyond this amazing giving, was so appreciated. I got emails and messages on social media, and it was so encouraging. Because it’s hard over there…
Great. But hard. Thanks to all of you, the trip was a success in every way. I really can’t thank you enough!
PS Becoming a monthly supporter is a GREAT way to help our work! As little as $10 a month makes an impact — $10 can provide food for a teen mom and her child for a week! Just click the button to get started —>
Emmanuel (Manuel for short) is in Primary 3 at Wells of Hope, and so happy that school started back in January after nearly two years of closures. He loves running around, playing football, and being a regular kid.
There’s just one difference: Manuel has only one leg.
He was born this way, and watching him move you would never really connect that one of his “legs” is actually a crutch. He uses that crutch as easily and naturally as can be — it’s pretty amazing.
But Manuel’s crutches have always been made out of wood, and as a typical, active boy, that wood breaks. When that happens, Manuel can spend a week out of school while another one is located, and funds figured out.
This means he not only loses a valuable week of education and food, he also has no means of movement outside sitting on his bum and scooting around. His family couldn’t afford a wheelchair, but also, his home and the surrounding village aren’t really places a wheelchair can go easily. So he waits.
We have a project up on DonorSee to buy Manuel a metal crutch, so he can play football and run to his heart’s content. We’d love your help to give this amazing kid an amazing gift.