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SOTENI Village of Hope (SVH) Mbakalo serves a section of the Western Province with a population of 155,000. Most of the residents are Bukusu, a sub-tribe of the Luhya culture. More than 55% of the people live below the poverty line. HIV/AIDS prevalence is estimated at 7%, but the burden of care continues to overwhelm local health facilities and programs.
Led by a locally elected management committee of volunteers, SVH–Mbakalo provides essential services to vulnerable children and ensures they remain HIV negative or live positively with HIV. The Kenyan government recognizes SVH–Mbakalo as an official Community Based Organization.
The Flo DeWitt Women Empowerment Initiative
In June 2009, SVH–Mbakalo launched the Flo DeWitt Women Empowerment Initiative, a microfinance program providing short-term loans of 30,000 Kenyan shillings (~$400) to local women's groups. These loans finance income-generating activities and help the groups achieve greater self-sufficiency. The women work on projects ranging from beekeeping to crop development.
Before receiving the loans, the women received training on how to effectively manage their capital, maintain active membership, develop a sustainable project, and repay the money.
World Vision® Partnership
Since 2008, SVH–Mbakalo has partnered with World Vision, which is facilitating the care and support of nearly 1,100 vulnerable children. These children receive food, tuition, improved living conditions, healthcare, and psychosocial support, according to their needs.
SOTENI Water and Sanitation Project
In 2009, fresh drinking water in SVH–Mbakalo became minutes away, rather than miles away, thanks to the Lake Victoria North Water Services Board, the Gender Sensitive Initiatives organization, the Kenyan Water Services Fund Trust, and SOTENI Kenya. SVH–Mbakalo managed the project. The massive project brought 20 hand-pump wells and 20 spring-water pipes to the area, as well as 15 three-door latrines and 12 rainwater-harvesting tanks to its local schools.
SVH–Mbakalo opened a dispensary in early 2005 to provide essential medical services to an underserved area that includes the largest rural slum in the Western Province. The seven-person staff includes a two nurses, nurse's assistant, lab technologist, accounts clerk, watchman, and a cleaning person.
Between 200 and 300 people visit the dispensary each month, often walking miles to receive care. Most require anti-malarials, antibiotics, analgesics, or antihistamines. With the assistance of a government health center, the dispensary also offers immunizations. Despite having no electricity, the dispensary is thriving. In fall 2008, SOTENI purchased a solar refrigerator to store vaccines and medicines.
In 2011 SOTENI was able to build a simple structure on the 2.25 acres that was donated by the community to SOTENI. The dispensary is currently located in this building. Plans are in the works to upgrade, and expand the dispensary. The expansion project is estimated to cost about $75,000 USD. We are seeking donors to help with the project.
Due to the generosity of a donor, SVH-Mbakalo will be developing the Mary Kibor Empowerment Project. After strengthening the current infrastructure a community resource center will be built on the SOTENI land. Plans are to have a library and cyber-cafe.
AIDS Barefoot Doctors
SOTENI Kenya's AIDS Barefoot Doctors have cared for hundreds of households in Mbakalo. To learn more, visit the AIDS Barefoot Doctors program page. They are also part of the P&G Children's Safe Drinking Water Project that focuses on household with people living with AIDS.
The SOTENI International Sponsorship program directly supports seven children in Mbakalo.