FOA Hall of Fame - Derreck Kayongo

Derreck Kayongo
Derreck Kayongo

Derreck Kayongo and his Atlanta-based Global SoapProject collect used hotel soap from across the United States. Instead ofending up in landfills, the soaps are cleaned and reprocessed for shipment toimpoverished nations such as Haiti, Uganda, Kenya and Swaziland. Kayongo,an Uganda native, thought of the idea in the early 1990s, when he first arrivedto the U.S. and stayed at a hotel in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. He noticed that his bathroom was replenished with new soap bars every day, even though they were only slightly used.

Kayongo transitioned from the tough life of a refugee to become a college graduate, aU.S. citizen and a field coordinator for CARE International, a private humanitarian aid organization. But he has not forgotten his roots — or thefact that many refugees in Africa continue to lack access to basic sanitation. For Kayongo, collecting soap is “a first line of defence” mission to combat child-mortality around the world. So far, 300 hotels nationwide have joined the collection effort, generating 100 tons of soap. Some participating hotels even donate high-end soaps such as Bvlgari, which retails up to $27 fora single bar.

Volunteers across the U.S. collect the hotel soaps and ship them to the group’s warehousein Atlanta. On Saturdays, Atlanta volunteers assemble there to clean, reprocess and package the bars.The Global Soap Project then works with partner organizations to ship anddistribute the soap directly to people who need it –for free. To date,the Global Soap Project has provided more than 100,000 bars of soap for communities in nine countries. KenyaRelief is one organization that has benefited.

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