There are things in life that we have come to regard as too ordinary or even mundane to be noticeable. Soap is one of those things. A bar of soap is so easily affordable in the developed world (not the fancy ones with customisable scents and shapes) that we often forget the life-changing qualities it possesses.
During Christmas last year, six student interns from The Chinese University of Hong Kong who were responsible for running Soap Cycling‘s Shenzhen operations, traveled to a primary school in Longling County in Baoshan City, Yunnan, China on an education volunteering program.
In the week from 24 to 30 December 2018, the six students, bringing with them soap bars reprocessed by Soap Cycling, volunteered 80 hours of education for 532 primary school pupils on hand washing, eye protection, oral hygiene, and mental health.
In addition to teaching the pupils the “Seven Steps of Hand Washing” with poster reminders adhered to the walls inside the school, the student interns also provided the pupils with sexual assault education. “As adults, we have the responsibility to protect these children, to help them protect themselves, so that they will have a better childhood growing up,” wrote one of the student interns.
To the primary school pupils, the majority of whom are “left-behind children” whose parents work in urban areas, the student interns also offered mental health sessions on positive thinking, as well as sharing with them the importance of education, as many of those primary school pupils tend to want to start working once they have finished junior high or even primary school. “As the pupils spoke about the joy of seeing their parents, there was also a sense of loneliness in their eyes. This is probably why many of them want to start working in the city as soon as they can. And so on our last day there, one of the teachers hoped that we could help the pupils to discover their passion in learning,” said one of the student interns.
The volunteering trip concluded with education on proper hand washing to help these children in rural community avoid preventable hygiene-related diseases, which often affect their performance at school, and education level in the long run. While acknowledging the limitation to the work they could do in the week-long trip, the student interns were nonetheless able to come home knowing they have helped plant seeds for a hopeful future.
Soap Cycling, one of FSI’s portfolio companies, is Asia’s first and largest soap recycling charity, largely run by students to promote youth empowerment. In addition to lightly-used soap bars, Soap Cycling has also been collecting half-used bottled hotel amenities from its hotel partners since 2017, to be reprocessed to be distributed to the communities in need, both in Hong Kong and overseas. Find out more about how you can support Soap Cycling’s work here.