Wednesday, November 02, 2016

Making soap, Saving lives

A few years ago Samir Lakhani, a student at Pittsburgh University, was spending the summer building fish ponds in a Cambodian village when he saw a mother scrubbing a young child with laundry detergent. He didn't think that was a good idea as detergent can harm the skin, and contains toxic chemicals that can cause itchy eyes and vomiting. He decided to try to do something about it. Even at his young age he realized that a lot of soap was wasted, particularly by hotels. So, he experimented and developed a technique for combining discarded bars of soap into a new composite bar of "eco-soap".

When he came back to the States, he started crowdfunding. Then he succeeded in obtaining sponsorship from major hotel chains, to enable him to train and pay soap makers. Now his Eco-Soap Bank organisation employs 30 staff in three hubs across Cambodia, collects soap from 170 hotels, and has supplied 650,000 people with a safe way of getting clean. Women sell eco-soap in villages, a "couple of hundred" schools are given it free of charge, and "hygiene ambassadors" from partner NGOs train the schoolchildren to wash their hands properly.

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