Okoth Grace, Managing director, uganda
Okoth Grace comes from a Ugandan family of 14. He was born and raised in the rural community of Bujagali Falls Village where S.O.U.L. Foundation is based. Being one of 12 children and growing up in extreme poverty with parents who farmed for subsistence, he was denied the opportunities for education, food, health, parental love, and the care that a child needs.
"When S.O.U.L. Foundation was born, it was a dream come true because S.O.U.L. provided me and others the opportunities that we never had before. I often think about where I am today, and thank S.O.U.L. Foundation for having the commitment and dream to make Ugandans' lives better."
Oko has enjoyed watching S.O.U.L. Foundation continuously grow in the last seven years, and is very happy and honored to be a part of this life-changing organization. He is very excited about what is yet to come for the organization and the community.
Oko shares in the overall responsibility for strategically planning and implementing programming in Uganda, and spends his days developing and overseeing new innovative projects that will deliver immediate and lasting change to Ugandans.
HOPE ACHIENG, PROGRAMS AND HR MANAGER
Hope is a self-motivated, determined staff member who brings great energy to her work with S.O.U.L.. She has a huge passion for helping others and empowering women. Born and raised in Uganda in a family of five, Hope was raised by her siblings. She believes her upbringing has helped her understand that even the simplest effort to help someone elevate or achieve their dreams can make a massive, positive difference in their lives. It is for this reason that Hope enjoys working with S.O.U.L Foundation.
“We don’t know who we are until we see what we can do. S.O.U.L has offered me a unique opportunity to serve the community, discover my strength and be the HOPE I need to be for others. It’s always a learning and growing experience at S.O.U.L, seeing hundreds of lives touched brings joy to my heart.” – Achieng Hope
BASALIRWA TWAHA OR "SAALU", FIELD COORDINATOR
One of S.O.U.L.'s newest staff members is Basalirwa Twaha, commonly known as Saalu. He has been the chairperson for the Parents' Committee of S.O.U.L.'s Student Sponsorship Program for two years, a position that is appointed by S.O.U.L. to one of the best performing, most active parents.
Saalu finished school at the primary level, and joined Jinja S.S. for secondary education, but dropped out to become a peasant farmer. He went on to work for Rift Valley Railroad, and then for Karum Dam as a laborer before joining the S.O.U.L. staff. Saalu spends most of his days coordinating and mobilizing for the many S.O.U.L. programmes, paying school fees and negotiating partnerships between S.O.U.L. school and parents. Saalu adds a lot of experience and leadership to the existing team.
"Working for S.O.U.L. is an honor in my community and I am grateful for the work they have done for me and particularly my children, who now have hope for a better future. I have been involved in SO.U.L. since the early days as a beneficiary and this year I am very happy to have been added to the staff as a field coordinator." - Basalirwa Twaha
Asiah Sizomu, Groundskeeper
Asiah is a 24 year old village woman currently in charge of upkeep of S.O.U.L.'s campus. She has one daughter and six step-children whom she supports with profits from small scale farming and her S.O.U.L. salary, while her husband works hours away in Northern Uganda.
NAOMI AKELLO, BURSAR COORDINATOR
Naomi comes from Kumi District, which is located in the north eastern region of Uganda. She graduated with a Bachelor of Arts in Education from Kyambogo University.
Mentoring young people is her passion and she has exercised this as part of her previous job roles since she graduated from university. She says, "It is fulfilling to see a child's life change."
Before joining S.O.U.L foundation she was working as a sponsorship program mentor. Throughout that time she was able to see many children’s lives change. She believes in what S.O.U.L does to change the lives of the people in the community and she is pleasantly overwhelmed about the programs the organization operates.
SOPHIE MUTESI, ANTENATAL EDUCATION CENTER INSTRUCTOR
Sophie was born in Buwongo Village in the Namutumba District, and she is currently living in Wanyange Village in the Jinja District. Her inspiration to become a midwife started in Primary 7 when she got into a science class. Her parents became excited and encouraged her to become a nurse, and they told her they would do whatever they could do help.
She started experiencing compassion whenever she saw suffering mothers in the village and she wished to take care of them. When she succeeded in helping them, she found that it was not enough because she could not teach all of them.
Sophie's mission became complete when she started antenatal education with S.O.U.L. Foundation because she can empower the community, build knowledge and skills, and give women confidence in their health at even the lowest level. She really feels great when a life is being saved. Her belief is that a person can have money, but if she lacks awareness she will still suffer. Therefore, Sophie's mission is to create awareness amongst the community members.
RUTH OTITI, MENTORSHIP COORDINATOR
Ruth is very motivated about the community development work S.O.U.L Foundation is doing. Every day she wake ups, she knows someone is relying on her presence and therefore has to work hard to see that she does not disappoint them. School students periodically need motivation and career guidance so she is always there for them.
She was born in Oyam a village, in Northern Uganda. She is one of 5 children. She attended Kyambogo University, where she graduated with a Bachelors in Adult and Community education. Before joining S.O.U.L. she worked in various fields from being a news anchor to a functional adult literacy trainer. She is excited about being a part of the different projects that S.O.U.L does, which bring joy and hope to the community.
Hawa Nantege, Tailoring Instructor
Nantege Hawa joined the S.O.U.L. staff in April 2013 as one of S.O.U.L.’s tailoring instructors. She was born and raised in Kampala from a family of 15 children. Hawa finished her schooling at secondary 4 before having to stop due to the lack of available school fees. After getting married, she moved to Jinja in 2009. She studied tailoring for 1 year, trained for 4 months, and was then introduced to S.O.U.L. through her tailoring instructor.
Every afternoon, Hawa conducts tailoring classes for over 80 women. Her warm and patient persona light up the tailoring room as women from various villages come to her class. She loves to laugh and joke with the women and believes that if you teach while you are tough, the women won’t understand. Hawa is always smiling and brings so much energy to class each and every day. She wants the best for all of her students and hopes that one day, some of them will be teachers or have their own workshops. Hawa herself dreams of becoming a designer. Her role model is a famous Ugandan designer, Sylvia Awoli, and she hopes to one day continue school and start designing.
Jane Nabirye, Tailoring Instructor
Jane, also known as Mama Oko, was born in Kyabirwa Village where she has raised all of her children. She comes from family of 17 siblings. Her father was a plumber while her mother was a farmer. After Primary 7, she stopped attending school due to the lack of school fees. She then married and began her family. Mama Oko has 11 children, all of whom attend school.
Before S.O.U.L., she struggled so much. Now, her biggest challenge as a mother is getting enough money to take care of all of her children and pay their school fees. S.O.U.L. helps to sponsor her children and has provided her the opportunity to use her skills as a tailor. Mama Oko trained to be a tailor, and attended formal training sessions in Jinja. As one of S.O.U.L.'s tailoring instructors, Mama Oko spends the afternoon with other tailoring women. Her biggest goal is to help her children create better futures.
Basit Ibanda, IGANGA Field Coordinator
Basit was born in Iganga where he lived with his parents, grandmother, and one older brother. His father is a driver and his mother is a business woman. When Basit's mother's shop was not doing well, she would get loans to make sure her children went to school. His older brother moved to Sudan to work at a shop while Basit moved to Jinja in 1999 for schooling.
In secondary school, Basit had dreams of becoming a doctor and a pro-footballer. Through much perseverance due to the difficulty of attaining school fees, Basit has recently completed his Bachelor’s in Business Studies with Education from Kyambogo University in Kampala. Basit first joined the S.O.U.L. team as our computer teacher. Now, he has joined the team of Field Coordinators and he is excited to work alongside the community and help groups achieve their goals. Basit realizes the importance of education and is eager to use his skills on the ground with S.O.U.L.
HADIJJA NAKAGOLA, IGANGA ADMINISTRATIVE ASSISTANT
Hadijja is a self-motivated person who was born and raised in Kyabirwa village in a family of 7 children. She knows the challenges S.O.U.L. students face, as to attend primary school as a girl she had to walk 4kms every day to reach school.
She earned a Diploma in Information Technology from Busoga University. After university, she worked for Grace Enterprise Limited and assisted her sister in her shop. The skills she learned in these jobs are now helping her in creating relationship with S.O.U.L beneficiary groups.
She is excited to work alongside the community to help the people of Iganga District achieve their goals. Hadijja realizes the importance of working with women in a bid to empower them and she is ready to share the skills on the ground.
“This is a dream come true! I am happy to be working with S.O.U.L. Foundation which started in my community. I am involving myself in creating the change in the villages of Iganga which I want to see tomorrow.” - Nakagolo Hadijja
Muganda Muzamiru, Aquaculture / Agriculture and Food Security Coordinator
Muganda was born and raised in a polygamous family of 3 wives and 17 children in the village of Bujagali. From his mum's side, Muganda has 6 siblings, 3 boys and 3 girls. Muganda's childhood dream was to become a doctor; however, his passion changed when he started volunteering at the S.O.U.L. Foundation Fish Pond in its beginning stages. He became very curious about fish farming and always asked the Aquaculture specialists the same questions each time they came by. This inspired him to pursue a diploma in Fisheries Management and Technologies at Entebbe Fisheries Institude and became one of the lucky S.O.U.L. University Graduates.
Upon completion of college in June 2015, Muganda joined the S.O.U.L. staff full-time where he assumed his current position. He spends most of his day focusing on and strengthening the Livestock Program, the Agriculture Learning Center, S.O.U.L.'s Fishponds, and the Goat Cooperative. He hopes to use his skills from school and from S.O.U.L. to inspire Ugandans living in impoverished areas by teaching them the importance and the science of fish farming.
“This is a dream come true! I am happy to be working with S.O.U.L. Foundation which is in my community. I am involving myself in creating the change I want to see tomorrow.” - Muganda Muzamiru
MILDRED AKETCH, MAIZE MILL mANAGER
Mildred is a jolly lady and a social worker by trade. This leads to her enjoyment of contributing to women's development. She is a born of Tororo and a Japadola by tribe, but is currently residing in Mukono district. She attended Makerere University from which she graduated with a Bachelor’s of Social Science. She also attained a Post Graduate Diploma in Early Childhood Development at UCU Mukono.
Prior to joining S.O.U.L, she worked as a hygiene supervisor and a farm supervisor. When Mildred heard about the Women's Empowerment Program at S.O.U.L she was so curious to know how S.O.U.L is impacting women’s lives financially. She took great interest in applying and does not regret this decision. She is thrilled to see that there is an improvement in the women’s financial status.
“I am motivated by the great level of socialization and team work among the S.O.U.L employees” AKETCH MILDRED
SyLivia Tikakobayo, Administrative Assistant
Sylvia currently lives in Buwenda Village located in the Jinja District. Sylvia was a participant in S.O.U.L. Foundation’s Student Sponsorship Program, starting at the Secondary School level and continued on to graduate from Vocational School with a diploma in Secretarial Studies. She is one of six siblings and one of the first in her family to graduate with a higher education.
After graduating from Vocational School, Sylvia still wanted to stay involved with S.O.U.L. Foundation so that she could better serve her community. Sylvia first started working at S.O.U.L. Foundation in 2014 as a Receptionist. She was promoted to Administrative Assistant in 2016. She hopes that this new position will help her learn additional skills to become a Secretary or Administrator. Sylvia is incredibly passionate about S.O.U.L. Foundation’s efforts to provide education for children, especially for girls, and empowering women through S.O.U.L. Foundation’s cooperative partnerships.
Joseph Were, Computer Instructor and Monitor & Evaluation Coordinator
Joseph is a highly motivated, innovative, and creative youth. He grew up in Jinja district, where he attended primary and secondary school. In early 2016, through the connection of his brother, Muhofa Issac, and seeing the overwhelming impact S.O.U.L Foundation was making in people’s lives, he began volunteering for S.O.U.L. Foundation in the Community Center Computer Lab.
In addition, to working for S.O.U.L. he is a student at Saipali Institute of Technology and Management, where he is studying software engineering. Previous to working with S.O.U.L. he volunteered as a peer educator, during which he gained skills in HIV prevention strategies and data collection.
“There is no greater joy felt more than that when you make others smile” I’m so glad to be contributing on community needs as their computer instructor at S.O.U.L foundation. I’m really enjoying working with a great team at S.O.U.L and together we shall drastically increase the quality of life in communities.” - Joseph Were
Brooke Stern, Co-Founder/CEO
Brooke was born and raised in Suffern, New York. Her passion for S.O.U.L. Foundation stems from her belief that every human being has a right to the most basic necessities and opportunities in life. Influenced by her mother, who has dedicated her career to saving the lives of medically fragile children, and her father, who has an unwavering passion for travel in developing countries and cultural awareness, she developed a sense of responsibility and a passion for improving the lives of our global community at a young age.
Brooke studied Integrative Physiology at the University of Colorado at Boulder and completed her studies at the Denver School of Nursing with a Bachelor’s in Science and Nursing. She went on to work with Einstein Medical Center for the Global Diabetes Initiative Research Program in Uganda. Brooke co-founded S.O.U.L. Foundation in 2009 after visiting Uganda while backpacking with her father on a volunteer trip.
“I understood that by emphasizing education and self sufficiency in the community, we have the ability to drastically increase their quality of life.” - Brooke Stern
Read about Brooke's amazing March 1, 2012 experience > Brooke is currently the full-time CEO for S.O.U.L. Foundation and transitions between Uganda and the United States.
KATY KUTZNER, DEVELOPMENT DIRECTOR
Katy hails from Pennsylvania and brings a strong passion for women’s empowerment with experience in program management and design, grant writing, and monitoring and evaluation. Her international experience began as a Peace Corps volunteer in Malawi and she has since spent time working with international nonprofits focused on issues such as improving livelihoods, environmental conservation, and gender empowerment. Katy earned her M.A. in International Development from the University of Denver as well as a B.S. in Business Administration.
Katy is thrilled to join S.O.U.L.'s team as the Director of Development and looks forward to helping the organization expand its impact and reach in Uganda. She will be responsible for identifying and cultivating new funding opportunities as well as fostering relationships with global citizens, foundations, and the private sector to further S.O.U.L.'s mission. Aside from work, Katy loves hiking, beekeeping, traveling with her tiny trailer, and being outside.
Mitali Pinto, impact and Development fellow
Mitali is a Masters candidate in Sustainable International Development at the Heller School for Social Policy at Brandeis University. Hailing from southern India, Mitali's work experience has been in the realm of social development, working with a private corporation and non-profits in India. Her areas of focus include livelihoods, education, healthcare and child development. Mitali holds a BA in Economics and Commerce from St. Xaviers College in Mumbai, India. Outside of school and work, she is an outdoor enthusiast who enjoys running, traveling and cooking.
With a firm belief that empowering individuals and creating enabling environments is the key to moving out of cycles of poverty, she is excited to intern at S.O.U.L. During her six-month internship, she will help with the development and impact assessment of the on-ground projects being implemented in Uganda.