Shortly after finishing nursing school in 2009, Brooke Stern and her father, Kenneth Stern, set out on a backpacking trip through East Africa. Spending just five days in poverty-stricken Bujagali Falls, they were struck by the lack of basic necessities but amazed by the people’s spirits and enthusiasm, even in the face of extreme poverty.
"In the village we saw hunger but we also saw thirst: thirst for knowledge, thirst for a better tomorrow, thirst for the opportunity to lift themselves out of gripping poverty." -Brooke Stern
One month after her initial life-changing visit, Brooke returned to Uganda and spent the next 13 months living with and listening to the community’s needs, wants, and frustrations. Surrounded by failed examples of aid, she recognized that a new model with a focus on access to education was needed to address the underlying complex causes of poverty. Through this experience, Supporting Opportunities for Ugandans to Learn (S.O.U.L.) Foundation was born.
S.O.U.L. Foundation now works in 14 villages in the Jinja and Iganga Districts, directly and indirectly impacting 9,000 Ugandans. Brooke resides in Uganda the majority of the year, working with a Ugandan staff of 24 people to oversee the day-to-day activities and impact of the Foundation. The organization is also supported by a U.S.-based staff and Board of Directors.
S.O.U.L. Foundation is a registered nonprofit organization in both the United States and Uganda.