How Can a Little Bar of Soap Be So Powerful?


“[I] am so afraid of cholera,” said 13-year-old Naphiri. “It comes when you eat without washing hands. The result of cholera may be death,” she added, terror overshadowing her usually cheerful face.

                          Hygiene lessons stop the spread of diseases, like cholera, and save lives.

Naphiri eats meals at the Mtsiliza Village Partnership Program (VPP), one of the mission centers of Children of the Nations (COTN) in Malawi. The center provides meals for about 500 children twice a day, Monday through Saturday, while also meeting their social, spiritual, mental, and other physical needs, including medical services. Naphiri comes for the feeding program at the center every day. “We have well-prepared meals, and I enjoy coming and eating with friends here,” she said.

“One day at the feeding program, I was surprised to see the new bottled soap to be used for washing hands before meals. . . . It was strange but good for us because, since we started using the soap, we have learnt about good hygiene practices. The soap helps us keep clean always,” Naphiri said.

                         Clean the World soap is recycled from hotels and other venues to cut down on waste.

This soap was provided through a partnership between COTN and Clean the World. Clean the World collects and recycles soap and hygiene products discarded by the hospitality industry and other sectors. Through the distribution of these and other donated products, they prevent millions of hygiene-related deaths each year and encourage healthy childhood development.

                                           You can give 125 bars of soap for as little as $25.

COTN has been working with Clean the World in Malawi, Sierra Leone, Uganda, the Dominican Republic, and Haiti through the distribution of both soap and bed linens. Dave Schertzer, COTN National Director of Resource Development, says that during the Ebola crisis in Sierra Leone, “Clean the World fulfilled a tangible, critical need for our homes, schools, communities, and clinics.” Something as seemingly simple as soap can be the difference between life and death.

Washing hands with soap has not generally been part of Naphiri’s culture because soap is either too expensive or not easily accessible for many families in Africa. “Before the donation of the soap, our hands were not properly clean because we were not using any soap. . . . There are a lot of diseases that come from not washing hands consistently before meals,” Naphiri said.

According to Naphiri, frequent sicknesses lead to families struggling to afford food because they are spending their resources on medical care.

                                           Children like Naphiri are delighted by gifts of soap.

Asked if it is important to continue receiving soap, Naphiri did not hesitate to say, “Yes, this should be continued. It is really helping us.” She extended her sincere appreciation to everyone who has donated soap.

Right now, the soap is being used in all COTN centers, serving over 1,200 children on a daily basis. But more soap is desperately needed. Although the soap is being used in COTN’s VPP centers and regular handwashing demonstrations are given, there is not enough soap for use in each child’s individual home.

Fortunately, with Clean the World, soap and its distribution costs COTN less than 20 cents a bar. Will you give soap to help a child in need and save countless lives?