Since last year, we've been partnering with Sundara in an initiative that cuts down on hotel soap waste while providing access to soap for hundreds of children in the Kalwa slum of Mumbai, India. Using our proceeds, Sundara employs women with fair wages to collect, repurpose and distribute the soap. So far, our Kalwa Hygiene Ambassadors have distributed over 4,465 bars of recycled soap to children and their families. We continuously strive to expand and be able to reach more children and their families.
Sundara recently had the opportunity to meet with Baburam Dudhnaeh Yadav Sir, the Headmaster of Kalwa Hindi High School. They're in the process of planning to start soap deliveries in his school. “Children are often sent home for fever and diarrhea and at least five to ten students per class have noticeable lack of hygiene. Unfortunately, we do not have soap at school. Some children have soap at home, but a large number do not.” he tells us.
“We teach children about hand washing from the 5th standard forward and I think that most children know and understand it, but simply do not have soap to do it and therefore, the practice is not reinforced.” Mr. Yadav Sir. adds. The Sundara Team also asked a few questions to students at the school and, while they were able to list some of the important handwashing moments, they admitted to often forgetting to wash their hands before having their snack and after going to the washroom.
We're optimistic that this initiative will help because we've already started seeing improvements in Kalwa:
- Dr. Kamlesh Vishvkarma at the Shravam Health Center in Kalwa slum noted, “Before, 70-80% of the patients who were coming to the clinic had gastro-intestinal problems. Now, day by day, the number is decreasing. I can really see the impact of the soap.”
- Alok, one of our Kalwa beneficiaries tells us: “After using the soap to wash my hands, I don’t fall sick so often, I feel better and I get to play more!”
- Suman, our Sundara Hygiene Education team leader in Kalwa, tells us how proud she feels about making a difference in her community: “I’m helping children have access to soap, gain knowledge and ultimately be less sick.”
242 million school days are missed per year because of diarrhea, which water and sanitation initiatives can prevent. Good handwashing habits can help keep students healthy and ready to learn. Thanks to your support, we're able to collectively create a solution to the problem.