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Erin Zaikis: Hygiene For Slum Kids & Women Empowerment By Recycling Soap

  • IWB Post
  •  August 6, 2015


Movies have the power to move a person. And I mean that metaphorically as well as literally.

Just this morning I read about an American woman who was so moved watching the Oscar(s) winning movie Slumdog Millionaire that she actually packed her bags and flew to India.

Say hi to Erin Zaikis, founder of Sundara Fund and a New York based woman driven by the firm desire to put an end to hygiene related deaths in underdeveloped areas and communities. This woman isn’t merely professing her vision; she is implementing it successfully through her out-of-the-box idea of recycling used bars of soaps coming from hotels.

Erin found her purpose in life after being sensitized by watching the state of Mumbai slums in the movie Slumdog Millionaire.

“I couldn’t believe that people were living like this. I booked my ticket and came to Mumbai and started working with an orphanage here. I had always lived a very superficial life where materialistic things mattered a lot. But when I came to India, my life was changed. I got a new sense of purpose,” says Erin.




She began by connecting with an NGO in Mumbai and approached, umm, struggled actually, trying to partner with hotels who would give her their used soap bars. Once she accomplished this, came the rather magical task of recycling these used bars, which happens in just seven minutes! Want to know how she does that? Scroll down!


The used bars are first sorted and cleaned by peeling off the rubble. They are treated with a chemical solution to remove any left-over residue. Next, they are weighed, after which they find their way into a manually operated small-scale soap recycling machine. The resultant fresh bars are deftly packed and distributed along with hygiene education.






Think this is cool? Wait till you hear more about this woman!

Her smart move is not only reaching out to thousands of underprivileged children as hygiene, but also to scores of women of self-help groups who help manufacture these soap bars, thereby employing and empowering them!


Her team has made a difference in over 6,000 lives, utilized about a thousand kgs of used soap which otherwise is thrown away, and conducted 371 classroom lessons on hygiene.


Way to go girl! Hats-off to your innovative and spirited will! *Winks*

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