Dec 22, 2020

Year-End Message from Swazi SHEROES

December 22, 2020

Dear Swazi SHEROES Supporter,

Despite the challenges we have all faced with COVID-19, 2020 has been a remarkable year for Swazi SHEROES.  This year we finally went from concept to implementation in transforming the lives of young women in Eswatini.  No longer will these young women have to engage in transactional sex, exposing themselves to HIV, in order to get by.  By building businesses, teaching practical skills, and providing economic opportunity, SHEROES will help these young women make smart, responsible choices about their futures, choices enabled by economic freedom.

In January, Swazi SHEROES officially became a program of SOTENI International, joining a well-established 501(c)3 with a track record of fighting HIV in Africa and empowering women.  SHEROES established two advisory boards, one in the United States and one in Eswatini.  Comprised of 95% women, the boards focus on building our social enterprises, designing wrap-around services for participants, and harnessing the resources to make SHEROES possible.  In addition, we engaged in a critical partnership with Her Majesty Inkhosikati (Queen) LaMashwama.  The Queen’s desire to not only lend her name, but to become a hands-on leader on behalf of SHEROES in Eswatini, speaks to the tremendous support we have for building the capacities of these young women who face tremendous risks every day.

In September, we formally launched SHEROES. We screened the film Liyana, which beautifully depicts the challenges faced by young people in Eswatini, followed by an insightful panel discussion, which you can view here on YouTube, describing the impetus for SHEROES.  By year end, we had signed the lease on our new facilities in Manzini, Eswatini and had initiated the purchase of the assets of a local accessories manufacturer, Imvelo.  In addition, we confirmed a partnership with a local textile firm that will supply the needed materials for the launch of our apparel business.

In short, 2020 has been a remarkable year for Swazi SHEROES.  We are now poised to make a real difference in 2021, and beyond, as we begin to welcome our first cohort of young women into the program.  Your support in making such a huge difference in the lives of these young women is greatly appreciated.  Please consider a contribution today to help us build on this foundation and start changing lives.  Please contribute here.

Thank you and have a great New Year.


Steve Driehaus
Founder, Swazi SHEROES

Nov 19, 2020

SOTENI 2019-2020 Annual Report

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 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.


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

Jun 16, 2020

Report: Join the Fight Against HIV/AIDS & COVID-19

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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