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Haiti Needs Soap!

Haiti Needs Soap!

The solution is as simple as a bar of soap. As the situation in Haiti goes from bleak to bleaker, the recent cholera outbreak is quickly spreading through the country–and the easiest fix is out of reach for many. The Haitian health ministry is reporting an estimated 917 deaths and 14,600 hospitalizations since the cholera outbreak was confirmed in late October–though that number only accounts for people who have made it to clinics, the actual number is expected to be much higher.

Amid the squalid slums, hillside shanties and tent towns for displaced persons, the most tragic plot line of this story may simply be that Haitians need soap, yet bars of ordinary hand soap are few and far between. Cholera  is spread by contaminated food and water, and a hearty hand-washing after using the toilet is the number one way to avoid the infection.

A bar of soap in Haiti costs about 50 cents, but many Haitians cannot afford it. More than half of the population lives on less than $1.25 a day. More pressing in the minds of many is filling an empty stomach.

Experts at the Pan American Health Organization forecast 200,000 Haitians will show signs of the disease, while it is possible a million will be infected, but remain asymptomatic carriers still capable of spreading the potentially deadly bacteria. Although there are plans for water trucks, chlorination, new wells and water distribution points–the situation needs more immediate attention and soap is a quick fix.

UNICEF brought 100,000 pieces of soap in 500 of the country’s orphanages. Along the Artibonite River valley, the group distributed 82,000 bars. They will be heading into 5,000 schools in coming weeks.

I love the work of the awesome group, Clean the World, which collects barely-used soap from hotels in North America then recycles and redirects them to where they can be put to good use. So far they have delivered 100,000 bars of soap to Haiti,  and promise 200,000 more soaps by the end of the month.

If you have soap you would like to donate you can ship it to the Clean the World Recycling Operations Center in Orlando:

Clean The World
8026 Sunport Drive, Ste 306
Orlando, FL. 32809

And after you’ve sent some soap to Haiti, see how washing your hands can make a small difference in your own life: The Single Best Way to Prevent Illness

Read more: General Health, Global Healing, News & Issues, , ,

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Melissa Breyer

Melissa Breyer is a writer and editor with a background in sustainable living, specializing in food, science and design. She is the co-author of True Food (National Geographic) and has edited and written for regional and international books and periodicals, including The New York Times Magazine. Melissa lives in Brooklyn, NY.


+ add your own
2:41PM PST on Nov 12, 2012

I am a middle school teacher. We are looking to do a community service project. Is there still a need for soap in Haiti or elsewhere in the world?

2:41PM PST on Nov 12, 2012

I am a middle school teacher. We are looking to do a community service project. Is there still a need for soap in Haiti or elsewhere in the world?

4:56PM PDT on Oct 6, 2011

Thank you for the information. Soap is one of the things we take for granted. Let's all send some to Haiti.

12:31AM PDT on May 13, 2011


12:02PM PST on Feb 6, 2011

Wow great idea, I'll try this! Thanks!

9:28AM PST on Feb 5, 2011

Great idea. wish there was away I could send them a few hotel shampoos I've collected over the years on my travels. I'll try to see if there is a representative here in Greece.

11:47PM PST on Feb 4, 2011

WOW!!! This is a great idea, I'll put a box together this week!!

9:35AM PST on Feb 4, 2011

I've been "hoarding" a few bottles of shampoo that I haven't used in years, just because I know it's bad for our water to throw them down the drain... Now that I know about this organization, I can finally find a good use for them. Thanks for the info!

6:51AM PST on Feb 1, 2011

I am going to see how much it costs to send some from AUSTRALIA!!!

7:11AM PST on Jan 30, 2011

Yes, I agree and we never think to do basic things like boil soap bits together to make new bars. Although I don't buy Pears soap these days, they had a good idea I remember as a kid when my mother bought it. It was made with an indent in the middle so that when you came to the last bit you simply moulded into the middle of a new bar, therefore wasing none. It would be good if other manufacturers could take this up. In fact, as I've just been reading the latest Lush magazine, I think I will take up both these ideas with them. They may have a programme of sending their soap out to these countries.

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Disclaimer: The views expressed above are solely those of the author and may not reflect those of
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