John Emelio, our partner at Sustainable Missions International, sent us an update a few days ago about an initiative that SoapBox and SMI are partnering together to implement. SMI is organizing a local soap production initiative that SoapBox purchases are funding. This it the first time that an outside organization is supporting a Ugandan-ownded, Ugandan-operated soap company as a means to donate to local schools and orphanages. SMI works with community leaders in rural villages in Uganda to foster lasting improvement in the living conditions in these communities. They will be distributing the first batch of 8,000 soaps in August to orphanages around the country, and also rural villagers in Western Uganda. As John said, “We hope to strengthen our manufacturing ability in Uganda and continue making donation soaps for SoapBox for years to come.”
Here’s an update from John and a few photos about their progress!
David and Daniel,
We are excited about the first soap production run in Uganda. The main challenge we’ve faced has been finding an effective way to cut the soap given the higher percentage of palm oil in the recipe. On the positive side this results in a good, hard bar of soap, but it has been quite a challenge to cut it. We have even been bending our machete cutters, and the cheese wire is no match for the soap.
However, Our man on the ground, Andrew (pictured below) has been quite resourceful and on his own initiative he worked with the local woodworker to create wooden trays of individual soap molds that eliminates the need to cut the soap all together. The woodworker is creating 50 soap molds of eight bars each that will produce 400 bars in a batch. He will deliver the molds on Monday. When I was in Uganda in April, I asked the principle of the high school that Bart and I serve on the board at to identify two resourceful, hardworking students that Andrew could apprentice in soapmaking who would be in need of earning money to help pay for their tuition. Andrew has hired the students (one is an orphan without a father) and they are now learning the craft. At this point, due to the cutter problem, we have only produced 300 bars of soap. Andrew assures me that now with the individual soap molds, they can produce two batches a day and have the 8,000 bar order completed within the next three weeks. That will allow an additional 4-5 weeks for the soaps to cure prior to our distribution of the donation soaps in August.