THE Rotary Club of Chelsea has partnered with a Braeside businessman to save the lives of underprivileged children through an everyday household item – soap.
The club is working with Michael Matulick, founder and CEO of Soap Aid, and hotels around Australia, to improve hygiene for communities in need around the world. The innovative charity collects, sorts and even cleans up discarded soap from hotels and produces hygienic bars of soap for re-distribution, coupled with education on hygiene practises.
Rotary Chelsea president of the club Peter Batten said the club was proud to be partnering with Soap Aid in humanitarian and environmental efforts, with members personally driving to hotels to pick up used soap bars.
“Our passionate and dedicated volunteers organise with local hotels, motels, resorts and other accommodation providers to collect their discarded or partially used soap and send it to Soap Aid’s depot in Melbourne,” he said.
Mr Matulick, who runs Concept Amenities, a hotel supply business which partly funds Soap Aid, said 1.4 million children under the five died every year due to the hygiene-related diseases diarrhoea and pneumonia, which could often be prevented by the simple act of hand washing with soap.
As a witness to the waste in the hospitality industry, five years Mr Matulick had a vision to develop a soap recycling program that would save lives, and Soap Aid is today an independent charity managed by a board of experts and focused on life-saving missions.
Soap Aid has produced more than 440,000 recycled bars of soap and has distributed soap to communities in India, Cambodia and Indonesia, as well as 50,000 soap bars to Fiji to support relief efforts after Tropical Cyclone Winston.
This year Soap Aid has also partnered with WA Country Health Service in its two-year ‘Squeaky Clean Kids Program’ to reduce the incidence of infectious diseases, particularly trachoma, a contagious eye infection that can result in blindness. In Australia, infectious diseases such as trachoma are causing serious health issues in remote Aboriginal communities.
Hotels that would like to donate their waste soap can sign up at soapaid.org online.