“The best clue to a nation’s growth and development potential is the status and role of women.” — Historian David S. Landes, “The Wealth and Poverty of Nations”
Empowering women lifts whole communities.
If but one woman is given enough access to information and trained skill development, she can teach an entire enclave of other women in her local boroughs and communities. If these now learned women teach more women the same trade and skills required, the process magnifies to nations of women advancing in the business sector, for every woman that learns and then teaches will add more and better efficiency processes and nuances to the finished objective. In most developing nations, the cultural condition towards the treatment of women is one of unequal education and job opportunities, lopsided incomes, oppression and violence.
In Haiti for example, where the Lovin’ Soap Project is actively engaged, the majority of women that are taught the craft of soapmaking through our workshops are actually street vendors by trade, selling crops such as avocados, mangos or coffee on street corners and busy, polluted markets. This is often their sole income, which is minimal. Furthermore, women in Haiti and other developing countries are the primary and often only established labor presence in the home, which is grueling, time demanding and does not pay. The primary objective of the Lovin’ Soap Project is for these and other women to develop an established and recurrent income through the making and selling of soap and body care products, as well as have continual access to hygiene.
As a large shipment of soapmaking oils and supplies that the Lovin’ Soap Project has sent to Haiti are waiting to reach Port au Prince, we have shifted our focus to Africa. This is not to say that any less effort will be given to the women of Haiti. The Lovin’ Soap Project originated in Haiti with the initial efforts of Amanda Griffin, Co-Founder and will always be intrinsically involved in the on goings and progress of the women currently being trained there. As of this writing, the women of Haiti in both groups, OFEDA and HAPI are at a business standstill, waiting for supplies to reach the shore. Our mission as an organization has always been one of expansion, as we are to educate and train as many women as possible across any and all boundaries that will have us.
Africa will be our first group outside of the organizations’ birthplace. Haiti.
The Lovin’ Soap Project will arrive in Entebbe, Uganda on July 19th and stay for 10 days in a small village on the shores of Lake Victoria. The team will be instructing a small group of 8 women the artisan craft of soapmaking, as well as goal-setting and self-esteem workshops, which is an important part of our mission for every group of women we teach.
The small group of 8 women is part of a much larger faction of women that are scattered among a few different villages, all within a few kilometers of each other in Southern Uganda. Together they make up Project Lydia, a women’s cooperative that was actually first initiated in the small college town of Lawrence, KS by Julie Pash (below).
Pash has traveled to Uganda for years now on a continual basis and often brings other organizations and mission trips with her to provide aid and create opportunities for the women of Project Lydia. Benjamin Aaron, Co-Director of the Lovin’ Soap Project also heads up Prairie Soap Company, a for-profit handcrafted soap business located in Kansas City, MO. He has been in correspondence with Julie Pash since 2012, and sells the artisan goods from the women of Project Lydia in his store. This is how the optimistic connection between the Lovin’ Soap Project and the rapidly approaching trip to Uganda has come to pass.
Thanks to a great deal of efforts by Julie Pash and her Ugandan Manager extraordinaire, Alice, we have been able to locate sodium hydroxide, sunflower and palm oil and a few other locally sourced ingredients that can be utilized in soapmaking. We even have an expectant and optimistic connection with a woman in a town called Jinja, north of the villages, who obtains her own shea butter from the nut itself.
If the price is right and quantities enough, this will be a wonderful addition to the finished product we are there to teach.
July is the worst time to go to Uganda, financially speaking. Our airfare is in the thousands, and this expedition will severely drain our monies as an organization. But we are going, and we are excited to do so. Because the Lovin’ Soap Project is a not-for-profit organization, gender empowerment through education is not an investment concept – it is a guiding principle.
Gender equality is a moral imperative, and it is our firm belief that with nations having infant mortality rates as high as 35% and sanitation services nearly non-existent, hygiene cannot be overlooked or taken for granted. Providing thousands of pounds of soap to a country in the name of “aid” is not a sustainable approach to hygiene. We did not establish this organization to water trees; this undertaking is meant to plant seeds. We are eternally grateful for the philanthropic people and businesses that have provided us the opportunities to help in the gender empowerment movement.
And we want to hear from you. We want to answer your questions. Donate and contact us. Thank you so much for what you do for our global community.
Benjamin Aaron, Co-Director