In the beginning…
Twekembe Slum Project was created when our team of founders of Ugandan and American University students discovered 162 children living at an orphanage in the worst conditions imaginable. These children, ages 4-14, were sleeping in three tiny rooms without beds or blankets on a rocky dirt floor. Rats climbed over them as they slept and their bedrooms turned to mud when it rained. Their bodies were covered in rashes and many suffered from bacterial infections from the unsanitary latrines. Day to day, these children were hungry, bored, uneducated, unloved, and completely hopeless.
In September 2008, twekembe Children’s Home was established and moved 80 of the 162 children into a place they could finally call home. They began to receive three meals a day, proper medical care, a good education, and most importantly… love.
The evolution of twekembe…
twekembe’s mantra over the years has become okusoma tekukoma, meaning “learning never ends” in Luganda, Uganda’s national language. The road that has led to where twekembe is today has been full of challenges and learning curves. Our progress in so many ways has come from trial and error, fearless of making changes when we have made mistakes. As a result, we have continuously learned the greatest needs of the community and how to work with the people to combat the barriers standing in the way of effective development. One of our first and greatest lessons was what the community did not need… another orphanage or children’s home, that would become a “drop-off” spot for parents and guardians who believed their children were better off in the hands of institutions linked to foreign aid.
In 2010, recognizing our impeding action in creating twekembe Children’s Home, we changed our name to Twekembe Slum Project (TSP), a national NGO in Uganda and a 501(c)3 in the United States. The name change was aligned with our evolving mission and vision to tackle one of Uganda’s greatest challenges, the dependency mentality.
Plagued by a history of colonization and foreign aid, Uganda’s development has been paralyzed by a dependency mentality that has inhibited Ugandans from being their own catalysts for change. It is this realization and understanding of when helping hurts that has shaped twekembe into what it is today. What Ugandans need is restored hope and dignity in their own economic and social capacity that will enable them not only survive, but thrive.
twekembe empowers the community of Iganga in Uganda to “be the change” by creating sustainable enterprises that break the cycle of dependency and build capacity for transformation. Led and envisioned by locals, our income generating social enterprises meet a need in the community within the following areas:
Education– twekembe Nursery and Primary School educates more than 790 children, grooming them to be Ugandan’s next generation of transformational leaders!
Health– With the best facilities in the area, twekembe Community Health Center provides services in out-patient, dental, pediatrics, immunization, laboratory testing, radiology, minor surgeries, and antenatal care.
Skill Development– twekembe’s guesthouse, restaurant, bakery, tailoring, knitting, and embroidery projects supply a community demand while acting as training centers for vulnerable men and women enabling them to provide for themselves and their families.
Agriculture– With crop production, a dairy farm, a piggery, and a goat project, twekembe trains vulnerable men and women in modern farming techniques, providing the local market with quality dairy and meat products.
In a virtuous circle, all profits from the enterprises are invested back into the community through education, health, and economic development initiatives that include school scholarships, community workshops, medical assistance, microloans, and more skills training for the most vulnerable.
Our desire is that twekembe not be a charity, but rather a movement of sustainable solutions that is the result of local initiative.