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How You Can Help the World Without Really Trying


I just heard about a really cool idea.  If you join in, you can help the world without really trying and without spending a dime.  Interested?  Keep reading.

How many times have you spent the night at a hotel, taken one shower and had your soap thrown away with 90% of it left remaining in the soap dish as you check out or had the soap replaced each day of your stay?  The answer is:  almost every time you have spent the night at a hotel.

I travel a lot for business and I cannot tell you the number of times this thought has crossed my mind, “What is going to happen to this soap?  It’s perfectly good and I’ve only used a little and now it’s just going to be thrown away?  Hmmm, maybe someone could take this soap and sterilize it and give it someone in need.”

If you’ve ever had a similar thought, luckily for all of us, the practice of throwing that soap in the garbage is slowly changing, thanks to Derreck Kayongo and his Atlanta-based Global Soap Project.  Kayongo, a native of Uganda who is now a U.S. citizen, thought of the idea in the early 1990’s, after he emigrated from Uganda to escape the dictatorship of Idi Amin.  He was staying at a hotel in Philadelphia and noticed that each day he received a new bar of soap and his old one was thrown away.  Flabbergasted by the waste, the idea for his charity was born.

The Global Soap Project from Global Soap Project on Vimeo.

Kayongo knew that many of the diseases which have been largely wiped out in the United States are still causing deaths in other parts of the world.  He also knew that collecting soap could be the “first line of defense” to eliminate unnecessary deaths around the world.  Each year, more than 2 million children die from diarrheal illness (predominantly among children younger than four living in low-income countries); deaths which can be largely eliminated through the simple act of washing of hands.

“The issue is not the availability of soap. The issue is cost,” Kayongo said. “Make $1 a day, and soap costs 25 cents. I’m not a good mathematician, but I’m telling you I’m not going to spend that 25 cents on a bar of soap. I’m going to buy sugar. I’m going to buy medicine. I’m going to do all the things I think are keeping me alive.

Right now, 300 hotels in the United States have joined Kayongo’s effort and their donated barely used soap bars have amounted to nearly a quarter million pounds soap. Volunteers across the country collect the hotel soaps and ship them to the group’s headquarters in Atlanta. Once each week, on Saturdays, volunteers clean, reprocess and package the bars.

So, the next time you plan a business trip or a family vacation, print out a copy of this form and turn it in to the manager at the front desk.  That simple act, at no cost to you, could very well save a child’s life.  Does it get any better than that?

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