In Bolivia, nearly 30,000 children’s lives could be saved each year with increased access to clean drinking water, increased use of soap, and implementation of a more robust national hand washing education campaign!
This statistic was one of the primary reasons SoapBox Soaps teamed up with several local non-profits in Cochabamba, Bolivia to construct a pedal-powered soap mixer for a rural school. The school has been producing soap for awhile, but the “bicimaquina” (bike machine) will increase the efficiency of the soap making and the quality of the soap. The school will then sell their product to the local municipality for distribution to other schools in the region that so desperately need it.
This project has been a whirlwind of work–custom designing gear systems, cutting, grinding, and sanding the steel framing, fabricating a unique mixing paddle, and adding the finishing touches with a paint scheme borrowed from the Bolivian flag, but these efforts will create, “clean hands and healthy hearts,” to quote Freddy Rosa Echaverria, the principal at the school.
On the day the finished bicimaquina was delivered to the school, two teachers poured the appropriate ratio of ingredients into the mixing barrel, while students took turns pedaling the bike–incorporating the ingredients smoothly into a velvety solution. After about 60 minutes of mixing time, the soap was ready to be poured into the molds for cooling. It was the culmination of a successful project made possible by SoapBox Soaps.
The success of this project would not have been possible without the following people and organizations:
A big thanks to Teresa Forbes and Koehler Briceño from Sustainable Bolivia who helped translate and otherwise facilitate the success of the project, and also Chloe Tingle and Hannah Buhrmann, Sustainable Bolivia volunteers, for their project management skills and endless encouragement.
Muchas gracias to Elsa Sanchez from Fundacion SODIS who connected the SoapBox Team with the school in Tiquipaya.
The SoapBox Team cannot thank Freddy Candia Aguilar and Rosio Soliz Lima from CECAM Bolivia enough for their incredible efforts helping us build this machine. They truly took this idea from pen and paper and made it happen. Thank you!
Many thanks to Freddy Rosa Echaverria, his teachers, and his students from Escuela de Tiquipaya Modelo for their enthusiasm to improve public health conditions from a community level and, of course, for their gracious hospitality during our visits.
Thank you to Dr. K.R. Ajao from the University of Illorin in Nigeria for sharing his blueprints with the SoapBox Team for a similar soap mixing bike machine that he designed in Africa.
Lastly, this project would never have gotten off the ground without the support from loyal SoapBox Soaps customers. Thank you for purchasing our SoapBox products. With every purchase, you are helping make a difference in the lives of people like those in Bolivia.
Soap Equals Hope.