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Life saving soap helping women and children in Cambodia

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Ever thought of soap as the difference between life and death?

Probably not, because in the developed world, using it is as basic and mundane as eating or sleeping.

However, in Cambodia, one of the poorest nations on Earth, the humble soap cake takes on an added significance…

This is a country with very little in the way of health or hygiene infrastructure. In a poor village, a shower is a trip to the water pump, a toilet is a hole in the ground, and health/hygiene products are an unaffordable, sometimes unheard-of luxury.

REstore one soap DSCN3077lowresSoap is one of these “luxuries”. Without it, serious diseases run rife in these communities, including infections, chronic diarrhoea and vomiting.

These diseases are often deadly and are nearly always preventable … That’s right, this is happening in our region, in the 21st century.

Cooranbong-based NGO Restore One has come up with a practical and innovative solution to this problem.

“We wanted to tackle several issues all in one,” says Restore One’s team coordinator, Tanya Lawrence.

“Employment, health, education … we racked our brains for an all-encompassing solution in the communities where we work.”

Tanya and the team decided to employ a group of young village mothers to make soap as part of a micro-finance enterprise. The women receive full training, as well as a steady income for their work.

“It has opened their lives to greater financial security,” says Tanya. “As poor, rural mothers, these women have all the responsibility in the world, without any of the support. Life in these villages is hand to mouth in a way that most Westerners will never understand. As mothers, the opportunity to generate an income from home is a massive blessing for these women.”

But Tanya and the team did not stop there. They wanted this project to be far reaching, in a way that would touch the lives of the entire community.

“I said to my colleagues: ‘Let’s offer the soap as a reward for children who attend school regularly’,” she says.

Restore One recently built a six-classroom school to service the community. It has been a godsend to the village, but the organisers are aware that, as with many disadvantaged communities, education takes a back seat to the need for earning an income.

“In some communities, kids as young as 10 are forced to work in the rice paddies, and some are even forced into sex slavery,” says Tanya, “This is the real face of poverty, where desperate families will do anything in order to survive. We do not want this for our communities, and education is key!”

So the children who attend school regularly get free soap provided to them. It may seem like a small gesture, but Tanya considers it an essential step in providing these kids with the health and education resources that their parents never had.

“Some of the soap is sold for an income, some of it is given to our kids, encouraging them to learn. We’ve really achieved a lot with what started out as a very small project. We are proud of our soap.”

And the real test of its effectiveness?

“Absolutely I use it myself,” says Tanya. “As do all my colleagues. Our local mothers are trained to hand-make the soap to high professional standards. It’s soft on the skin, and it smells amazing. My personal favourite is the lemongrass!”

Interested? Become a part of the cause and make a difference by enjoying Restore One Soap.

$5 per bar, comprising of 3 ingredients:

  • Lemongrass Essential Oils
  • Olive Oil
  • Coconut Oil 

 Great as a treat for yourself or a gift for someone you love, you will be supporting the health, employment and education of those in need.

Thank you for loving the people of Cambodia!

To order our product or make any enquiries, please email tanya@restoreone.org.au

Melissa Histon

Photographer, philanthropist, adventurer, blogger, avid permitter and social changer, Melissa Histon is a woman on a mission to make a real difference to the lives of women globally. Melissa spent 10 years working in the corporate world before leaving to establish a successful photography business. After experiencing a number of life-altering events, Melissa created The Sista Code in May 2014 with a dream to see women empowered, happy and connected. Whether it's building a house for the homeless in Nepal, interviewing inspiring women from around the globe, or creating events and campaigns to support sistas escaping domestic violence, Melissa knows that true change can only happen when we all stand together and boost each other.

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