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Our Roots

Since our organization's beginnings in 2002, SOTENI International has continually expanded the ways in which we're able to help.

When a group of American and African volunteers formed SOTENI, each member was passionately committed to preventing HIV/AIDS and to reducing its effects. At that time, the mission was simple: Empower orphans of AIDS to lead the fight against AIDS and to prevent another generation from succumbing. SOTENI International became a 501(c)(3) nonprofit group in 2003, allowing for tax-deductible contributions.

Led by physician-epidemiologist Victoria Wells Wulsin, SOTENI Kenya began in 2003. The group developed the model of Villages of Hope, with the goal of establishing a sustainable, grassroots community. A locally elected management committee led this community, supporting children affected by HIV/AIDS, especially those heading families. The group found that the best way to empower those needing help was to strengthen their communities, and, in turn, the communities could empower vulnerable people.

This discovery led to our dedication to community development. In 2004, SOTENI Kenya opened three more Villages of Hope: Mituntu, Mbakalo, and Ugunja. Contributions, both financial and in-kind, exceeded $250,000 as volunteers and interns from five continents joined the grassroots volunteers.

In 2005, each SOTENI Village of Hope received a World Bank pilot grant, administered by Kenya's Ministry of Health National AIDS Control Council. SVH–Mbakalo opened a health center offering primary care and preventive services. To ensure sustainability, each village included income-generating assets and activities ranging from the health center to beekeeping. As the SOTENI Kenya staff grew from one part-time director to 13 multi-disciplinary workers in 2005, the fourth SOTENI Village of Hope opened in Kuria.

There is much more work to be done. And with the continued help of our supporters, we look forward to even stronger activities ahead.