Photos courtesy of CCU Photography
U.S. hotels alone waste about 800 million bars of soap a year.
Derreck Kayongo, a former refugee of Uganda and recent speaker at Coastal Carolina University, was inspired to end the cycle of soap waste. Kayongo was raised by parents who created their own success from scratch: his mom was a seamstress and his dad was well-known for making soap.
Having been raised in a struggling country, Kayongo was extremely emotional after discovering how wasteful American hotels are after his first hotel stay in the states. From Kayongo’s knowledge of his father’s business, Kayongo felt capable and inspired to make a change.
According to Keepler Speakers, a speakers' bureau and platform which represents and promotes individuals who have faced great adversity, Kayongo conducted research in order to formulate his plan and soon began securing multiple partnerships with hotels. The result was the Global Soap Project: a foundation that recovers, recycles, and repurposes soap from hotels. The process of repurposing the soap includes sanitizing, melting, and remolding the ingredients. The soaps are then distributed to communities around the world.
“This simple observation became an innovative idea that is now battling global health issues in 90 countries. Hygiene-related diseases, and the resulting deaths, have dissipated in many at-risk communities, thanks in part to Derreck’s creative problem solving,” the site said.
His goal was to reduce the number of children who die every year as a result of lower respiratory diseases such as diarrhea diseases, which can be caused by poor hygiene. Many of these children have never had access to soap.
“I had to understand that it’s going to take a while to build an organization from scratch and become successful. I had to be patient during the process,” Kayongo said during his lecture at CCU.
Trace Fulmore, a senior Business Management major, was grateful he attended the lecture.
“I left feeling inspired and ready to think about ways to change the world,” he said. “If Derreck Kayongo can . . . make such change, so can I,” Fulmore said.
After 10 years of labor, Kayongo brought relief to 92 countries in need of soap. The Global Soap Project has helped decrease the percentage of diseases among children in struggling countries.
Kayongo now spends his time traveling as a keynote speaker. Kayongo lives by an acronym of SELF (Service, Education, Leadership and Faith). He credits these values for his maturation and success.
“Becoming successful means understanding every stage you’re in versus trying to conquer the whole world,” Kayongo said to the audience in the Johnson Auditorium at CCU on Sept. 25. “Making an impact and leaving your mark is an important component to being successful.”