This week starts the CNN contest for ‘CNN Heroes of 2017’, and I thought it would be fun to look at these … all good people doing good things. If you wish, you can even participate in the vote up until Tuesday, December 12th. There are ten of these finalists, and I know of at least one who I will write an entire post about, for I have already begun it. So, I thought I would bring you a few this week, and a few more next week, so you will know a bit about them, in case you wish to vote.
Many of these good people are doing small things, but as I told my daughter last night, it may be only a drop in the bucket, but after a time, the drops fill the bucket to overflowing. Let us take a look, shall we?
In 2014, Samir Lakhani was attending the University of Pittsburgh (Pennsylvania) when he spent time volunteering in a Cambodian village.
“I remember quite vividly a mother bathing her newborn in a basin filled with laundry powder and water. It’s an image I’ll never get out of my mind.”
According to UNICEF, one in five deaths of children under five years of age are due to disease caused by poor hygiene. Why is soap such a rarity in these villages? First, many people have to choose between food for their children or soap. Which would you choose? Second, most merchants no longer even stock soap, because nobody can afford to buy it.
One night when Samir returned to his hotel after a long day of volunteer work, he spotted the small bar of soap in the bathroom, and a thought came to him. Those are mostly thrown away after one or two uses … what if they could be recycled and provided to the poor in the villages? And so this young man decided to do something wonderful. He established a non-profit, Eco-Soap Bank:
Eco-Soap Bank is a humanitarian and environmental non-profit organization working to save, sanitize, and supply recycled hotel soap for the developing world. Our work has three objectives:
- Contribute a highly cost-effective hygiene product to improve health.
- Significantly reduce the waste generated by the hotel industry.
- Provide livelihoods and free education to disadvantaged women with no other reliable source of income.
Today, the organization has four recycling centers across the country, providing jobs to 35 local women. The used bars are sanitized and remolded into new bars or melted down into liquid soap. So far, more than 650,000 people have benefited from the group’s soap and hygiene education.
“What I love most is that we are killing three birds with one stone. We are keeping waste out of landfills, employing locals and spreading soap all over the country.”
Almost daily we hear and read of the violence in Chicago. Last year was Chicago’s deadliest in nearly two decades, with 762 homicides. Think about that one a minute … more than two per day, on average. Parkway Gardens on the south side is one of the hardest hit neighborhoods. Enter Jennifer Maddox, a Chicago police officer who saw a need and got down to the business of filling that need.
“We are in a state of emergency here. The shooting, the killing. Five-, six-, seven-year-olds—they’re losing people that they love and care about. A lot of our young people are fearful to even come outside.”
Maddox started a non-profit called Future Ties, that provides a safe haven for more than 100 children in grades K-5 to learn, grow and succeed. Her ultimate goal is to reach all 1,200 children that live in the complex. Maddox has even taken a second job to help fund the efforts from her own pocket. But Future Ties does not only provide free after school day care, they actually work with the children in various areas of learning, and recently Jennifer introduced some lessons on ‘conflict resolution’ …
“I brought conflict resolution into the program because I felt that we needed to address how they relate to each other in conflict. That’s where a lot of the violence in their community stems from. They need to understand that it’s not okay to hurt someone, even though that’s what they see happening around them. They need to understand that there are other ways to communicate and relate to one another.
I want the children to make the best out of their lives. The things that are happening across our city—it’s very unfair for our young people. I do what I do because I enjoy it and I believe in their potential. I look at their faces every day, and they give me hope.”
You might find this article from the February 22 in the Chicago Sun-Times interesting.
Two people who are adding drops to that bucket every day, doing their part to help instead of harm. My hat is off to these two, and the lessons they can teach us all: that it doesn’t take a lot of money or time to help others, to help make the world just a little be better place.