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 30 villages in the Jinja and Iganga Districts, impacting over 14,000 Ugandans. S.O.U.L. has a staff of 38, 34 Ugandans in Uganda, and 4 Americans in the United States. The organization is also supported by a Ugandan board of advisors and a U.S.-based Board of Directors.