A conversation with Arineitwe Joseph, Executive Director of TEMO
Just over a week ago, I met a data analyst who saves lives. As Joseph Arineitwe explained how his team enters the slums of Kampala, Uganda to rescue teen mothers, I was immediately struck by his humility. This 29-year-old works full-time as a data analyst in Kampala, but his passion is facing the evil in his city head-on. Joseph volunteers as the Executive Director of Teenage Mother’s Outreach, a pro-life ministry working to bring hope to pregnant teenagers living in poverty.
He is clearly filled with compassion and sympathy as he describes life in the slums of Kampala. Joseph can relate to growing up with very little. The direction of his own life was drastically altered by the unexpected kindness of strangers. “[As a Child] I didn’t have any way of going to school until a couple from the United States began sponsoring my education,” Joseph explains. “I vowed to God that I would serve him all the days of my life.” God’s undeserved provision in Joseph’s life clearly fuels a desire to pay-it-forward.
The issues facing teen mothers in Uganda, became personal for Joseph as he watched his own teenage sister become a single mother. The Lord continued to show him the grim realities facing these young women in his city. Finally, while in his sophomore year at Uganda Christian University, Joseph decided he must find a way to help these mothers and fight against abortion. In 2012, he established Teenage Mother’s Outreach (TEMO).
In Uganda, 25% of all 15-19 year-olds are pregnant or already have at least one child. Joseph explains that many of these teenagers living in the slums are pregnant due to rape and prostitution. Some young women choose to sell their bodies in order to eat. Working in the slums is often dangerous for TEMO staff, as men who are exploiting vulnerable women see them as a threat to their livelihood. “They [brothel owners] really hate us so much,” Joseph emphasizes.
When the girls become pregnant, they are faced with the choice to either raise their child in the slums or undergo a hazardous abortion procedure, usually performed in rural villages. With no financial support, mothers who choose to keep their babies have no access to prenatal care, maternity services, postnatal care, or sanitary living conditions for their new baby. “When they get pregnant, their families throw them out and they go live in the slums, which is so horrible,” he says sadly. “In the slums, they are abused more and more, and the cycle continues.”
The men and women of TEMO work to council these pregnant teens to keep their babies and to support them on the difficult road ahead. “We remind these mothers that they have worth and their children have worth, “says Joseph. “We show them the love of Jesus Christ. Not only in word, but also in deed by providing for their needs.” In addition to providing maternity care, TEMO also provides vocational training to aid single-mothers in affording a safe environment to raise their baby. “We want these mothers to be self-sustaining, so we offer them business skills so they can have their own business.”
As we talk further, this warrior-against-oppression shares TEMO’s dream for the future. “TEMO’s dream is to buy our own land where we can build, a maternity home and a vocational training school for mothers.” Joseph’s visit to the United States to find donors clearly shows a strong determination to realizing their dreams. He is no stranger to overcoming difficulty either; experiencing the death of his father at the age of 13 and relying on sponsors to receive an education. “I learned that I need to trust God in all situations no matter the condition that I am facing at the moment. Because I know that my redeemer lives and his plans are better than mine. I need to trust him in all situations no matter what.”
After meeting Joseph, my thoughts drift to consider the 20-somethings in my own country. I often meet passionate young adults excited to engage the world for Christ, yet too often are crippled by busyness, feelings of inadequacy, or an unhealthy hunger for success. As a 23 years-old college sophomore, Joseph started a ministry to impact lives in his city. And now as a young adult engaging a new profession, his priorities have been clearly established. His driving passion isn’t wealth or career recognition; it’s to bringing restoration to his city. What an inspiration to the young adults of America! Certainly, an inspiration to all of us.
“I challenge you, young people, to not be afraid of what God has called you to do,” Joseph challenges. “Satan will try to sidetrack you from the goal that God has for your life. The people around you may despise you or think that you’re crazy. But God has a good plan for you. Serve Him in the way that He has called you to.”
You can learn more about TEMO and how to support their work on TEMOuganda.org!
Miss the video? Watch the full interview here.
A portion of every Joshua Expeditions trip goes to support TEMO and other Christian organizations around the world. Learn more on joshuaexpeditions.org/about.
 Demographic and Health Survey 2016: Key Indicators Report, Uganda Bureau of Statistics; Kampala, Uganda.