Chocolate cake, a night out with friends, and a wish list of must-have presents—sound like the perfect birthday celebration? For many it is— but this year, Sundara had a different vision for our birthday.
With the help of our partner, Soapbox Soaps, we commemorated our first birthday on May 7th 2016 by launching our second soap-recycling workshop in Ashte, India— a tribal village four hours outside of Mumbai, near the border of Gujarat and Maharashtra.
As our team stepped off our bus into the scorching 100 degree heat, we were greeted by dozens of women dancing in circles, men playing traditional drums, marigold garlands tossed over our necks, and hundreds of children sitting outside, smiling and chattering excitedly – the whole village came out for the inauguration of the Sundara work center.
Why did we choose to open a second soap-recycling workshop in Ashte? Other than rice farming, there are few job opportunities in this village. The average adult in the village makes between $1 and $1.50 per day. This isn’t enough to provide for their families, so many say goodbye to their neighbors and traditions as they are forced to migrate to the over populated Mumbai (with its already 21 million inhabitants). They arrive in Mumbai and live in crowded, squalid slums, paying shockingly high rent for inadequate living spaces. As adults leave the village, they bring their children and parents with them and the village population decreases – with entire villages like Ashte being wiped out in just a few years.
We wanted to make a small but important step in breaking the cycle of constant migration into overcrowded cities like Mumbai by setting up a workshop in Ashte itself. We are breathing life back into this community with your help. Now, hygiene education will be taught to an additional 500 children each day. 2000 additional bars of soap will be produced each month. Three more women have been hired as our hygiene ambassadors, recycling soap every day. Each woman is paid a wage triple of what an average woman in Ashte makes, allowing them to take care of their households and be the breadwinner. None of this would’ve happened without YOUR support.
Sundara would like to extend our utmost gratitude and appreciation to Soapbox Soaps. With every bar of Soapbox soap you purchase, you help thousands of children and families take their health into their own hands. You help provide women with fair wage, dignified employment. You help spread the importance of hand hygiene knowledge and increase access to bar soap. Thank you for helping us make our birthday wish come true!
Photography courtesy of Jason Rosen of Soapbox Soaps