This month I found interesting young women by name Erin Zaikis who worked as a volunteer with the Jewish aid group Justifi in Thailand. Wherein she found children using the bathroom and not washing their hands afterwards, recalling her experiences she says one day Zaikis brought soap for the children, but they did not know what to do with it…children as old as 13 did not know the simple task of washing their hands after using the bathroom. She says for the first time children were washing their hands with soap.
She found out that there are approximately 3.5 million children who die of diarrhea and respiratory diseases each year, according to the Centers of Disease Control. Hand washing is the best way to prevent these deaths. She talks about her experience as she lay sick with dengue fever in Thai hospital; she had a sudden realization that she would dedicate her life to helping others.
So Erin Zikis initiated a soap making operation called Sundara, a Sanskrit word for beautiful. Sundara has produces and distributes recycled soap in the community. She thought about the concept of recycling hotel soaps that are often discarded after few uses. She started thinking about how to collect the soaps, recycle them and provide them to those in need.
When she visited India for her first internship, she travelled Mumbai in 2009 where she spent a summer working in a girl’s orphanage. She found that sanitation and hygiene issues in India were very important yet overlooked and underfunded. She got involved into the soap recycling project and was soon disappointed as she could only locate a few organizations that actually recycled soap. She felt the need to evolve alternatives in the local level and created Sundara which never existed before. In 2014 Zaikis won a LinkedIn for good competition and grant, which allowed her to launch a soap recycling operation in India.
The organization pays local women to conduct hygiene workshop to enforce healthy behaviors. The workshop leaders receive two weeks of training in hygiene, leadership and public speaking before venturing out into the community. Sundara employs about 17 teachers who work at 30 schools in Mumbai and surrounding areas.
The women share about how to prevent lice and the importance of washing hands- it is inspiring to see women as strong and confident leaders for the self care and empowerment. Further information visit. www.sundarafund.org
I am happy and inspired to write about her in this post, thank you for reading- I would love to know your thoughts.
Be Blessed & Be Happy!