Soap Aid Aims To Save Lives

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Kaajri Vaughan has always had a desire to support those less fortunate, but moving from Sri Lanka to Australia in 2000 made it even stronger.

“I’ve been fortunate to complete tertiary study in Australia and accumulate some great work experience and skills,” Kaajri, a 15-year RACV member says.

“I want to use this to make a difference and play a small part in making other people’s lives better, in Australia and overseas.”

About two years ago Kaajri, a director at PricewaterhouseCoopers, also became director of finance for charity Soap Aid. Founded in 2011, Soap Aid aims to reduce the sanitation-related deaths around the world by more than 40 per cent by providing recycled soap and educational material.

“I loved the idea of using something as simple as soap to save lives,” she says. “I also love the focus on educating families on good hygiene ... so that we can make lasting and sustainable change.”

Kaajri says 2.5 billion people across the globe lack adequate sanitation, and about 600,000 children die each year from hygiene-related illnesses.

“Hand washing with soap represents the single most affordable, effective solution to reducing ill health and deaths associated with poor hygiene.”

Soap Aid is supported by a number of leading hotel chains across Australia. Waste soap is kept by housekeeping staff, packed into boxes and collected by Rotary International volunteers. From there, it is reprocessed at a plant in Braeside and distributed.

The charity has donated soap to an indigenous childcare centre in the Northern Territory and orphanages, schools and communities in India, Cambodia and Papua New Guinea.

Kaajri wants more. “I see us having one or two factories overseas to recycle soap locally and create employment in disadvantaged communities,” she says.

Written by Kathryn Kernohan, Photos Meredith O'Shea
March 01, 2016