Did you know that diarrhea and pneumonia are the leading causes of death among children in the developing world? Combined, they claim the lives of nearly 6,000 kids every day – more than AIDS, malaria, and TB combined.
Fortunately, there is a simple “vaccine.” Hand washing with soap is the most efficient way to prevent those deaths and can cut death rates in half. Through the Global Soap & Hygiene Initiative, a Clean the World cause, we focus on getting soap and hygiene education to those who lack access to it. In the past six years, we’ve distributed more than 30 million bars of soap to millions of people in 100 countries.
One person who received our soap is Ruth, a young mother living in rural Malawi. When we started working with Ruth, we learned that although she was familiar with soap, her family wasn’t buying it or using it. Like so many people living in poverty, Ruth had never been taught why soap and proper hygiene are so important for maintaining good health.
As a result, Ruth and her children were sick quite frequently. Several family members and neighbors had died from hygiene-related diseases. Ruth’s kids were falling behind in school and were about to drop out, and she was often unable to work and earn money to keep her family fed and nourished.
That changed when Ruth started participating in one of our projects, where she attended a local clinic each month with other parents to receive a free bar of soap and hygiene education. After nine months of participating in the program and using soap regularly, Ruth and her family no longer get sick. Better still, she and the other parents in the program see the value of soap and are buying it for themselves regularly as an investment in the health of their children.
To us, that’s success.