I have had an idea for a while about spotlighting non-profits and Christian ministries on my blog. I love to donate to organizations that are making a difference in real people’s life. The “big guys” might have a larger reach by having the staff to implement large scale projects, but there are a lot of smaller organizations that are doing the grunt work with little support. So, I’m excited to introduce a monthly series, “Helping the Least,” based on Matthew 25:36. Here is my first spotlight.
Derreck Kayongo with the Global Soap Project spoke at the Evo ’12 conference last week. Derreck was voted on of CNN’s 10 Heroes in 2011. I think they made a very wise choice. His story is inspirational, and he is a pleasure to talk to.
As a young boy, he watched a Ugandan military officer murder members of his village in an effort to find someone he thought was hiding there. His family was eventually forced to flee Uganda as Idi Amin’s genocide campaign against his own people began killing tens of thousands of innocent people. A missionary in Kenya, Marge (I don’t know her last name), helped Derreck’s family immigrate to the U.S. and transition to American life. He told several humorous stories about their journey to adapt, such as his introduction to iced tea. He said when Marge gave him a glass of iced tea for the first time, he whispered to her that she forgot to cook the tea because he didn’t want to embarrass her. Ugandans take their tea hot, like the British; not cold, like the Americans.
Derreck worked hard to succeed in America. He attended college and became a U.S. citizen. On a trip, he was awed that the hotel he stayed in kept giving him new bars of soap every day when he had not finished the bar from the previous day. He stuffed the new soap in his bag to take home (who hasn’t done that?), but then felt guilty for what he thought was theft. So, he went to the front desk and confessed to the hotel concierge that he had been stealing the soap and asked for the concierge to return it for him. The concierge laughed at him and told him not to worry because everyone kept the soap. He asked about the used soap, and the concierge told him it was thrown away.
“Thrown away?”, he thought. That single bar of soap could save a child’s life in his native Uganda and other poor countries (handwashing with soap can reduce diarrhea morbidity by 44%). Or help a midwife save a mother’s life during childbirth (handwashing by birth attendants before delivery reduces mortality rates by 19%.). Derreck’s father had been a soapmaker in Uganda, and they discussed how to take the used soap, recycle it, and send it to poor countries. The idea of the Global Soap Project was born.
Based in Atlanta, GA, the Global Soap Project has distributed more than 21,000 bars of soap to 21 countries. It works with relief and faith-based organization that already have a presence or ministry in the countries, thus keeping its shipping costs low.
I videotaped a short interview with Derreck. I apologize for the background noise. We didn’t have a quiet corner to use for better sound quality, but you’ll get the general idea.