This college student found a simple way to prevent thousands of Cambodians from contracting easily-treatable diseases and viruses.

When Samir Lakhani was in Cambodia for the summer building fish ponds with an NGO called Trailblazer Cambodia Organization, he saw a mother washing her child with laundry detergent. Soap is often considered a luxury in the nation, so many families either resort to rubbing their bodies in ash or using industrial cleaning supplies like the mother and child.

Samir, however, didn’t think that that was good enough for the country’s people – so the Pittsburgh University college student started pondering ways to supply soap to poor Cambodians.

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One stroke of genius later, Samir realized that Siem Reap – a nearby tourist hotspot consisting of over 2 million visitors a year – was also home to over 500 hotels and guesthouses.

The student eventually concocted a formula of sanitizing and recycling hotel soap bars that would have been destined for the trash.

When Samir went back to school, he finished his degree in environmental studies, started crowdfunding for his brain child, and found corporate sponsorship for what would become the Eco-Soap Bank organization two years later.

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Since the project’s debut, they have provided 650,000 Cambodians with clean bars of soap. They employ 30 workers who can sell the eco-friendly products as a source of income for themselves, but their “hygiene ambassadors” bring soap to local schools and educate the youth on proper hand-washing techniques.

In the United States, hotel chains throw out 2.6 million bars of soap every day – but thanks to Samir, those products will find new homes in the hands of less fortunate families.

(WATCH the video below)


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