This post was written by Rosanna Kingston, Clean the World’s nonprofit partnership and volunteer coordinator.
Almost 4 million soap bars were distributed globally through our partners this year – and more than 12 million bars since Clean the World was founded in 2009. However, 64,000 bars had special significance this year because they were handed directly to children and families by Clean the World team members. Our groups made a total of four distribution trips to Honduras and Guatemala in 2012, where the soap was hand-delivered to people in need. Sixteen individuals from throughout the United States and Canada joined us in 2012 for these life-changing journeys.
Some team members work in the hospitality industry while others were corporate partners from Aloft, Starwood, Canalta, Clearly Natural, Concord and Lakeview. They came from a variety of positions within these organizations, from custodial to management. On one trip we were joined by actress Mariana Klaveno.
Our teams visited orphanages, soup kitchens, schools, ghettos, landfills and villages. There appeared to be very little soap in any of these places before we arrived. Our team members learned how the citizens live and the challenges they face with hygiene and inadequate sanitation.
There is a landfill in Guatemala where subsistence workers live with their families within the borders of the landfill itself. Every day scores of the Guatemalan poor work in this landfill to search for scrap metal and other recyclables. They do this in order to eke out a living that is the equivalent of about three U.S. dollars a day.
During a previous trip to Honduras, one of our team members came up with a novel and entertaining solution to a problem. The challenge was how to show the importance of proper hand washing to children who weren’t used to good hygiene. Kathryn Coiner-Collier from the Aloft Epicenter Uptown in Charlotte came up with the idea of us performing a skit to teach he children in an enjoyable and memorable way.