Dare to Join the Fight Against HIV/AIDS in Kenya

by SOTENI International
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Dare to Join the Fight Against HIV/AIDS in Kenya
Dare to Join the Fight Against HIV/AIDS in Kenya
Dare to Join the Fight Against HIV/AIDS in Kenya
Dare to Join the Fight Against HIV/AIDS in Kenya
Dare to Join the Fight Against HIV/AIDS in Kenya
Dare to Join the Fight Against HIV/AIDS in Kenya
Dare to Join the Fight Against HIV/AIDS in Kenya
Dare to Join the Fight Against HIV/AIDS in Kenya
Dare to Join the Fight Against HIV/AIDS in Kenya
Dare to Join the Fight Against HIV/AIDS in Kenya
Dare to Join the Fight Against HIV/AIDS in Kenya
Dare to Join the Fight Against HIV/AIDS in Kenya
Dare to Join the Fight Against HIV/AIDS in Kenya
Dare to Join the Fight Against HIV/AIDS in Kenya
Dare to Join the Fight Against HIV/AIDS in Kenya
Dare to Join the Fight Against HIV/AIDS in Kenya
Dare to Join the Fight Against HIV/AIDS in Kenya

October 2021- Update from SOTENI Leadership

From SOTENI Co-Founder and Vice Chair, Victoria Wells Wulsin, MD DPH

The COVID-19 pandemic has challenged us as individuals and as an organization. SOTENI has been able to adapt our lessons from fighting HIV to COVID-19. Our impact is shown through the continued low rate of COVID-19 in SOTENI’s target areas.

  •  Adapting methodologies for providing access to potable water for persons living with HIV/AIDS to minimize possible exposure to COVID-19.
  • Focusing on prevention by providing appropriate equipment. For HIV/AIDS, this meant condoms; for COVID-19, it means masks, gloves, gowns, soap, and sanitizer.
  • Improving communications through greater access to smart phones and wi-fi. Virtual meetings have led to increased connections among our three rural sites, Nairobi, and the USA. In-person gatherings were replaced with on-line group discussions to continue psycho-social support and education without the risk of exposure to COVID-19.
  • Generosity from donors, enabling us to upgrade our infrastructure, provide equipment, and train our 40 workers in COVID-19, which they in turn share with their communities.
  • Reducing the stigma of COVID-19, as we fought the stigma of HIV, with increased access to equipment, vaccines, grassroots leaders’ examples, and the science informing policy.

SOTENI leveraged our HIV infrastructure and resources to minimize the negative impact of COVID-19 during the first year of the global pandemic. As we enter the second year, we will build on our successes and expand our impact, thanks to your support.

From Hema Krishnan, Ph.D. Chair & SOTENI International Board of Trustees

SOTENI International has had another year of great success despite Covid-19’s tight grip on the world. First, our dedicated and committed staff, volunteers, and other supporters of SOTENI have helped us to stay true to our mission of preventing the effects of diseases through community based programs, and through online training programs related to infectious disease prevention, including Covid-19. SOTENI International (SI) and SOTENI Kenya (SK) are in excellent alignment and have executed several activities jointly. Board members from both SI and SK and staff from SK toured our Villages of Hope in June 2021 which will help to nurture our relationship with our beneficiaries. Technology integration in the villages will be accelerated following the grant award received from the International Foundation. Our programs are in good shape including Swazi SHEROES, a program in Eswatini (formerly Swaziland) designed to combat HIV/AIDS through the economic empowerment of women. We seek your support as we continue to grow in Africa, to bring the best quality health services and support to people living with HIV/AIDS.

From Swazi SHEROES Founder and Board Chair, Steve Driehaus

FY 2020-2021 saw the launch of Swazi SHEROES, a new program of SOTENI International.  Formally adopted as a program under the SOTENI banner, SHEROES strives to build the economic capacity of young women in Eswatini (Swaziland) as a way to help them make healthy choices and reduce the spread of HIV.

In September 2021, SHEROES held an online kick-off event with the screening of Liyana, raising $25,000 toward the start-up in Eswatini.  This was accompanied by the establishment of an advisory board in the United States and partnership with the Imbeleko foundation in Eswatini.  In 2021, SHEROES officially launched programming in Eswatini, opening a workshop in Manzini and training it’s first cohort of young women.

In addition to training the young women in the skills of sewing and craft design, SHEROES staff have been working with advisory board members and local professionals to design and delivery wrap around programming for the participants that includes psycho-social support and life skills training.

Despite COVID restrictions and political unrest, SHEROES has managed emerged as a safe haven for the young women of Eswatini and looks forward to growing rapidly in the coming year.

From Noreen Obilo, SOTENI Kenya Program Director

This year ushered hope as the Government of Kenya eased COVID-19 related restrictions which had paralyzed most organization operations. As the African proverb states “When the roots are deep there is no need to fear the wind,” despite the effects of the pandemic the purpose and resilience of the support groups prevailed and are slowly resuming project activities. This has allowed convening of monthly support group meetings which are instrumental in providing psychosocial support which in turn instill hope among members. SOTENI was also fortunate to have won the US Embassy Self-help grant, which was used to upgrade the maternity and laboratory in the SOTENI Village of Hope Mbakalo Health Clinic. We are also happy to announce that SOTENI vision of adopting technology in its field operations was realized through the a grant won from The International Foundation. The pandemic forced the organization to reevaluate new moods of engagement which strengthened relationships of SOTENI autonomous bodies via adoption of virtual engagements which reduced distances to only a phone call away.

We also suffered loss, as has everyone around the world. SOTENI lost a dear friend and a founder board member, Mr. Katheru Muthee to CODIV19. This loss was devasting for the SOTENI family and all who had an opportunity to work with him. He will be dearly missed.

Thank you again to all of you, our supporters, friends and partners. We are because you are.

In gratitude,

  • Victoria Wells Wulsin, MD DPH, Founder & Vice Chair, SOTENI International and SOTENI Kenya
  • Hema Krishnan, Ph.D. Chair, SOTENI International Board of Trustees
  • Jenny Brady, MPA Executive Director
  • Noreen Obilo, SOTENI Kenya Program Director
  • Steve Driehaus, Board Chair, Swazi SHEROES
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SOTENI One-Year COVID Report - April 2021

Despite the ongoing COVID-19 crisis, SOTENI’s outreach to rural Kenya in the fight against HIV/AIDS has remained steady over the past year, thanks to supporters like you and GlobalGiving. SOTENI remains resilient and committed to its mission of preventing the effects of infectious diseases, especially HIV/AIDS, and now COVID-19 through community-driven solutions in Kenya. 

AIDS Barefoot Doctors outreach to 2,535 people living with HIV/AIDS

Over the past year, SOTENI's core program “AIDS Barefoot Doctors” -which serves 2,535 people living with HIV/AIDS every month - has complied to the regulations set by the Kenyan Ministry of Health to ensure the safety of both field staff and support group members.  Effective April 1, 2020 all AIDS Barefoot Doctors’ support group sessions for people living with HIV/AIDS were suspended in order to adhere to the ban on meetings of 10 or more people in order to reduce the spread of COVID-19. It was critical that all members of these support groups continued to receive P&G water purification packets to provide enough safe drinking water to them and their families every month. Therefore an emergency alternative mode of safe, compliant distribution was devised by SOTENI’s COVID-19 taskforce in partnership with SOTENI AIDS Barefoot Doctors on the ground. Furthermore, SOTENI procured and distributed personal protective equipment to each group community leader to keep them safe and protected as they received and distributed packets. And, SOTENI’s emergency COVID-19 relief campaign in April 2020 provided the immediate necessary PPE- thanks again to donors like you! We are grateful to share that Minerva Health Solutions donated additional PPE in November 2020; and has committed to continue to supply PPE to SOTENI Kenya.

Strengthening SOTENI's ongoing response to COVID-19

With donor support, SOTENI implemented four in-house virtual COVID trainings between June 2020 and January 2021. After the first COVID training session, SOTENI staff was able to streamline direct communication between AIDS Barefoot Doctors (ABDs) and SOTENI’s resident volunteer doctors and community health experts. We accomplished this by setting up group chats for real-time communication linking ABDs with our subject matter experts to answer questions about COVID-19, safety protocols and nutrition as our ABDs fielded questions from their group members and ensured their group members were receiving P&G water purification packets. Overall, the trainings equipped our staff, ABDs and personnel with the necessary knowledge and skills of COVID identification, prevention, protective equipment, and care. SOTENI thanks its founder, Dr. Victoria Wells Wulsin for leading these trainings.

 COVID in Kenya today

As of March 28th, 2021 Kenya is experiencing another surge of COVID-19 in Nairobi and four nearby counties around Nairobi. These counties are currently under lockdown with curfews and travel restrictions in place for approximately 30 days, if needed. Kenya has started its first phase of the vaccine rollout targeting high-priority groups, including frontline health workers, between now and June 2021.

Thank you for your continued support of SOTENI’s efforts to ensure some of the world's most vulnerable people - those living with HIV/AIDS in rural sub-Saharan Africa continue to receive quality care and access to safe drinking water as COVID continues to exacerbate the need for such services in Kenya. 

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Dear Friend,

We are delighted to share SOTENI’s 2019-2020 Annual Report with you which captures the essence of SOTENI, “All of us together.” 

We are proud of the work we are accomplishing together. As you read this year’s Annual Report, we hope you will take a minute to look closely at the pictures, read the “Voices from the Field” sections written by staff members and the people they serve, and immerse yourself in our shared efforts. On every page, you will see the impact and progress we have made together thanks to your unwavering support.

As we look ahead to a new year, we see new ground to break in the face of ongoing challenges. SOTENI will continue to build upon its foundation in HIV/AIDS prevention, clean water outreach, and community-driven solutions to address emerging needs in this ever evolving world.

Thank you for being with with us on this journey.

Hema Krishnan, Ph.D. Chair & SOTENI International Board of Trustees 

SOTENI 2019-2020 ANNUAL REPORT HIGHLIGHTS: 

AIDS BAREFOOT DOCTORS

SOTENI AIDS Barefoot Doctors are a group of dedicated health workers that are commited, compassionate champions of their community. We are proud of our talented, hard working team of 21 AIDS Barefoot Doctors and supervisors. Not only does the team distribute water purification supplies in their monthly support groups for people living with HIV/AIDS, but our doctors also provide education on a wide range of life skills including HIV prevention and treatment, personal care and health, personal and family hygiene and nutrition, group communication skills, personal banking, and food and water sanitation. Through their work, our talented AIDS Barefoot Doctors provide emotional support and spread acceptance and compassion.

CLEAN WATER

Since 2010, P&G Children's Safe Drinking Water Program has supported SOTENI's AIDS Barefoot Doctors Clean Water outreach. Last year alone over 16,000 people living in SOTENI's Villages of Hope were able to access safe drinking water thanks to the 786,164 P&G Purifier of Water Packets distributed by SOTENI AIDS Barefoot Doctors through support groups. Sustainable support from P&G Children's Safe Drinking Water Program has proven to have life-saving, long term impacts in the Villages that SOTENI serves. Some of the impacts include the reduction and alliviation of water borne illnesses, and improved health and quality of life of mothers, children, their families, and entire communities. 

Click here to read the complete SOTENI 2019-2020 Report

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Contributing to breaking the cycle of poverty and AIDS in rural Kenyan villages, SOTENI International AIDS Barefoot Doctors (ABDs) are community members/health workers who provide home-based care, group therapy and education to people living with HIV/AIDS in our three SOTENI Villages of Hope.

In recent months, SOTENI ABDs accomplished the following:

  • Increasing the number of HIV/AIDS support groups in SOTENI Villages of HOPE from 140 to 169, thus adding 828 new members and serving 2,535 people living with HIV/AIDS
  • Distributing an additional 324,722 P&G Purifier of Water packets in partnership with the P&G Children's Safe Drinking Program, reaching nearly 19,000 people total
  • Refocusing support for people with HIV/AIDS from large group settings to individualized outreach due to the arrival of COVID-19

In addition, SOTENI International took decisive actions in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, such as:

  • Partnering with the Kenyan Ministry of Health and Amref Health Africa to open Amref’s customized learning platform for ABDs to access the most recent, local COVID-19 information. The ABDs in turn use this information to inform and educate 2,535 people living with HIV/AIDS served by SOTENI, and by extension their families, totaling nearly 19,000 people
  • Working with community leaders to ensure there is no disruption in the distribution of P&G water purification packets and supplies, with continued support from P&G Children’s Safe Drinking Water Program
  • Installing handwashing equipment in SOTENI Village of Hope Mbakalo and SOTENI Village of Hope Ugunja, and working to do so in SOTENI Village of Hope Mituntu
  • Providing ABDs with personal protective equipment, including masks and gloves, as well as comprehensive prevention training from Dr. Victoria Wells Wulsin, SOTENI International co-founder and epidemiologist  [insert picture]

SOTENI International strives to continue protecting and preparing our Villages of Hope in this time of crisis. If you give to our COVID-19 Relief Fund, your support will go directly to these critical needs:

  • Providing basic protections such as gloves, masks and hand sanitizer
  • Expand life-saving education and communication on the importance of hand hygiene, social distancing and self-quarantining
  • Upgrading mobile devices and increasing funds for airtime and transport for ABDs, who are traveling greater distances through very remote parts of Kenya in order to reach their clients individually

Message from Executive Director

Dear Friends,

On behalf of SOTENI International, we thank you for your continued support of our AIDS Barefoot Doctors and SOTENI Villages of Hope. You are an integral part in sustaining SOTENI's outreach to reduce the incidence of HIV/AIDS and improve the lives of those affected by it to ultimately create positive change for individuals and communities living with HIV/AIDS in poverty with the hope of brighter and promising future.

In these difficult times, our collective action for global health and security is more important than ever. SOTENI, as a community health organization serving those who are immunocompromised, has a critical role to play in the fight against COVID-19. Over the past month, with help from supporters like you, we have been able to provide:

  • basic PPE: gloves, masks, and hand sanitizer;
  • continued visits to families from our SOTENI AIDS Barefoot Doctors who will not just provide the regular monthly supply of water  purification packets for clean drinking water from P&G Children’s Safe Drinking Water Program, but also expand life-saving education and communication on the importance of hand washing hygiene, social distancing and self-quarantining; and
  • increased funds for airtime and transport for our barefoot doctors who are traveling greater distances -- through very remote parts of Kenya -- in order to reach their clients one to one, instead of in larger support groups.

Your continued generosity sustains SOTENI in our unwavering commitment to bring hope, healing and strength to some of the world's most vulnerable citizens. 

Wishing you and your family health and safety during this time. 

As always, we are because you are.

PS: People are noticing the great work we are doing with support from people like you.   Below is a link to a major feature article from the June issue of Cincinnati Magazine featuring on-the-ground reporting from Kenya by correspondent Bob Driehuas on SOTENI.  The piece really brings into stark relief the challenges and opportunities that exist in furthering our mission.   

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Contributing to breaking the cycle of poverty and AIDS in rural Kenyan villages, SOTENI International AIDS Barefoot Doctors are community members/health workers who provide home-based care, group therapy and education to people living with HIV/AIDS. In our three SOTENI Villages of Hope.

In 2019, SOTENI AIDS Barefoot Doctors facilitated the following:

  • Hosting 140 support groups which served 21,143 people in total
  • Distributing 705,295 P&G Purifier of Water packets in partnership with the P&G Children's Safe Drinking Program.
  • Over 16,000 people in SOTENI Villages of HOPE received access to safe drinking water through the P&G Purifier of Water packets, distributed by SOTENI AIDS Barefoot Doctors.

Why is clean water so important to SOTENI’s mission?

  • Many anti-retroviral treatments and drugs that HIV/AIDS individuals require safe drinking water in order to be effective.
  • When mothers with HIV/AIDS elect to feed their infants with formula instead of breast milk, safe drinking water is needed to mix the milk formula. Unsafe water puts babies at risk of contracting life-threatening diseases and infections.
  • Each P&G Purifier of Water packet treats 10 liters of potentially dangerous, contaminated water in just 30 minutes. 

SOTENI International is proud to announce that P&G’s Children’s Safe Drinking Water Program (CSDW) has extended its partnership with SOTENI to provide clean water to rural Kenya through 2020. Since 2010, P&G’s CSDW program has provided support to SOTENI’s AIDS Barefoot Doctors Clean Water outreach. With this renewed support, SOTENI aims to increase the distribution of water purification packets by 23%; reaching more than 2,000 families a month, who are living with HIV/AIDS. The P&G Children’s Safe Drinking Water Program was launched in 2004 and recently celebrated delivering 15 billion liters of clean drinking water in more than 90 countries.

A MESSAGE FROM THE EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR

SOTENI was founded 16 years ago with a vision to be the best model for preventing AIDS in vulnerable communities around the world. Last year alone, SOTENI served over 17,000 individuals and families living with HIV/AIDS in rural Kenya. We did this through our flagship program, AIDS Barefoot Doctors, our clean water partnership with Procter & Gamble’s Children Safe Drinking Water program, and community-responsive programs in SOTENI Villages of Hope including a health clinic, a community business and learning center, agriculture projects and income-generating activities.

We invite you to read our 2019 Annual Report. As you read through it, we know you will be proud of the work SOTENI is doing, and we hope you recognize your vital part in advancing SOTENI’s vision.

Your ongoing support is the reason SOTENI is able to create a vision and plan for our strategic growth, outreach and engagement.

Thank you for being with SOTENI, as a supporter and friend as we move forward together! We are truly grateful for your support. 

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SOTENI International

Location: Cincinnati, OH - USA
Website:
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Twitter: @soteni
Project Leader:
Jenny Brady
Cincinnati, Ohio United States
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