CNN Hero Samir Lakhani and the Eco Soap Bank

Recent recipient of the CNN Hero award, Samir Lakhani, created a life-saving initiative which could have a global effect.

Whilst volunteering in a Cambodian village, Lakhani noticed a severe lack of basic hygiene products. He wasn’t referring to high-end cosmetics either; he was looking for basics like soap, and they weren’t there. He was equally shocked to discover that a high proportion of infant and child mortality cases are due to avoidable diseases and infections.

If they could just wash their hands, all of this could be prevented.

In an interview with CNN, Lakhani stated; “I remember quite vividly a mother bathing her newborn in a basin filled with laundry powder and water. It’s an image I’ll never get out of my mind.”

This was the catalyst which would cause him to come up with a new concept; the Eco-Soap Bank. Described as “a humanitarian and environmental non-profit organization working to save, sanitize, and supply recycled hotel soap for the developing world,” the project has already received almost 200,000 donations, resulting in over 24,000 pounds of recycled soap.

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Lakhani was studying at the University of Pittsburgh when he came up with the concept. The simplicity of it means that hotels around the world have been eager to get involved.

After collecting and sanitizing the soap, we donate it to hospitals and humanitarian organizations working in remote regions of developing nations. These organizations share our mission to improve hygiene, and they work within their communities to create a positive shift in hygiene behavior. Together, we impart the tools and skills to keep people healthy for generations.”

What I love most is that we are killing three birds with one stone,” Lakhani told CNN. “We are keeping waste out of landfills, employing locals and spreading soap all over the country.”

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The demand for improved hygiene in the developing world is immense, and much remains to be done. You can help support Eco-Soap Bank by donating, by getting involved, or by spreading the word on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.”