Sydney Kamen

Founder of So Others Are Protected

  • commented on Submit your story 2016-12-31 21:23:52 -0500
    In 2012, as a sophomore in High School, I founded So Others Are Protected (SOAP), a self-empowerment initiative designed to take on some of the simpler issues surrounding sanitation and the spread of disease in the under-resourced world. SOAP functions on the donation of used, previously discarded soap from luxury hotels. These shards are then recycled, by locals, through a process of cleaning, melting and reshaping into new bars of soap to produce a sustainable source of sanitation in communities and for individuals where a deficiency exists. The goal is to initiate a multiplying effect. SOAP works with rural communities to promote sanitation, health education, emphasize community capacity building, and provide an alternative livelihood for at-risk women and girls. Further, we ensure that once people receive soap, they have access to it for the rest of their lives. We create an immediate sustainable positive health impact, without creating dependence.

    More than 800 children die every day from diarrhea caused by inadequate access to clean water or poor hygiene. Diarrhea remains the second leading cause of death among children under five globally. Together, pneumonia and diarrhea account for an estimated 40 percent of all child deaths around the world each year. Nearly one in five child deaths – about 1.5 million each year – are due to diarrhea. It kills more young children than AIDS, malaria and measles combined. Africa and South Asia alone are home to more than 80 percent of child deaths due to diarrhea.

    Our goal is to eliminate the incidence of preventable childhood deaths entirely, one bar of soap at a time.

    SOAP’s campaign is strictly an empowerment initiative. This means keeping a western presence to a minimum. Our role is to coordinate, organize and supply. Once we establish relationships between hotels and villages, coordinate soap delivery, and educate villagers (and village leaders to maintain and spread awareness), our only role is to maintain contact with all participating parties, and intervene if there are complications or additional support is required. Due to the nature of this model, corruption risks are eliminated, and an emphasis is applied to environmentally friendly practices and sustainability. The next phase of the campaign will target sexual and reproductive health in the developing world.

    SOAP is currently partnered with twelve villages and unofficial refugee communities, and thirteen luxury hotels, in Kenya, Uganda, Rwanda, India, Thailand and Myanmar. Not only have we worked to bridge the gap and build relationships between urban and rural communities, but we have provided meaningful work opportunities of young women and girls at risk to support their own communities, as well as support themselves through learning trade skills and how to run small businesses. We have facilitated hundreds of hours of health education workshops, and equipped communities with the knowledge and skills to protect themselves from preventable disease and illness. In the last two years, we have produced over 40,000 recycled bars of soap.

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  • signed Numbers count. So should girls. 2017-07-17 23:08:14 -0400
    Thank you for passing the Girls Count Act!

    Numbers count. So should girls.

    Why Count Girls?

    Approximately one person in twelve around the world is a girl or young woman aged 10–24. Yet many developing countries do not account for the number of girls in their population. Due to an unavailability of systems to count these girls, and sometimes simply due to a lack of political will, girls will be denied birth certificates or other forms of official identification.  This means that as a girl grows up it will be difficult, if not impossible, for her to attend school or get a job in the formal business sector. She will not be able to own her own or inherit land, start her own business, or vote. She will likely be confined to the home and left unpaid – an invisible member of society.

    Update: The House of Representatives just voted unanimously to pass the Girls Count Act. The Senate passed the bill at the end of May, which means it now heads to the President’s desk to be signed into law!

    Congress passing the Girls Count Act is a huge step toward helping girls (and boys) everywhere reach their full potential. When a child isn’t registered, they are invisible in the eyes of their government and their society. And girls are disproportionately affected.

    Read the full story here. 

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  • signed Thank UN Peacekeepers 2017-07-17 23:07:30 -0400
    Thank you for the sacrifices you make in the name of peace!

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    Join us in thanking the more than 113,000 brave men and women from 116 countries who serve as United Nations peacekeepers in 15 missions around the world.

    UN peacekeepers risk their lives every day to rebuild societies wracked by violence and natural disasters, restore confidence in people who have known little but war, and adapt to new challenges in some of the most difficult places in the world.

    Add your name – and a note if you'd like – to the thank you card below, and we'll deliver it to UN peacekeepers worldwide.

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  • signed Take Action to Support Vaccine Funding 2017-07-17 23:06:50 -0400

    Take Action to Support Vaccine Funding

    We need YOU to take action to support global vaccine funding!

    Times are tough for many Americans — and Congress must fund programs that are proven to be effective and will save lives. That’s why we need your help to tell Congress that vaccinating children around the world is a priority. Global health and immunization programs save lives and help protect us here at home — and vaccinating children in developing countries is one of the best investments we can make. We need your help to get this message out.

    Over the next few months, Congress will decide how much U.S. funding goes to critical foreign aid programs, like global health and vaccines. During this process, it is critical that you let your member of Congress know that you do not want any cuts made to global health funding or funding for global vaccines.

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