Monday, July 16, 2012

How to save a child's life in 45 seconds

I recently improved the life of a child with special needs in 45 seconds. That's how long it took me to send an email. A mom messaged on Facebook to ask if I was doing any more iPad giveaways; she has an adopted daughter with apraxia (actually, she has 7 adopted kids, all from the Ukraine). A little later that day, I randomly got an email from a company doing an iPad giveaway. I messaged her about it. She won one.

Can I tell you how happy that made me?

I mention this not because I want to impress; as you all know, I am no Mother Teresa. I mention this because one of the things in this world that instantly lifts my spirits is helping other people.

That can seem like a challenge when you have a child with special needs, who tend to consume a whole lot of your do-good time and energy. But what I know, from the volunteer work I did in my twenties and from whatever help I can give now, is that helping others gives you a high. I call it the dirty little secret of volunteering: You get as much as you give.

This past weekend, I discovered some amazingly easy ways to help others. I was at the Evo Conference in Park City, Utah (yes, back again). I did a publishing workshop on writing and getting published with Heather Morgan Shott, who writes the awesome blog High Chair Times on I'd heard how amazingly inspiring the conference was. As it turned out, it was inspiration on steroids, full of you-can-do-it-ism and the amazing power of moms to change lives (and the world).

One of the speakers: Derreck Kayongo, one of the 2011 CNN Heroes. Back in 2009 Derreck, a Uganda native, was staying in a hotel in Philadelphia. He noticed that his bathroom soap was replaced daily, even when it wasn't completely used. A son of a soap maker, Derreck was shocked by the waste. As it turns out, every day the hotel industry in the U.S. tosses some 2.6 million bars of soap. Derreck had a lightbulb moment: What if it was possible to recycle the partially used soap and ship it home for people who had no soap?

Every year, in impoverished countries including Uganda, Haiti and Kenya, approximately 2.4 million children die from diseases caused by poor hygiene and sanitation. Sickness is easily spread, particularly because people can't afford a bar of soap. Sometimes, midwives are not able to wash up, Derreck told us; they infect the mother and baby at birth, and both end up dying.

Enter the Global Soap Project, which started in Derreck's basement. Today, the nonprofit has worked with some 800 hotels and shipped soap to 22 countries worldwide. It all starts in a big warehouse in Atlanta, where volunteers sanitize donated soap, heat it, chill it, recut it and ship it out.

"How are you going to make yourself a better human being and inspire others?" Derreck asked us.

With just one click on your computer, that's how. Download this brochure about the Global Soap Project to share with the next hotel you stay at. 45 seconds.

At the conference, I also learned about an amazing upcoming effort by the United Nation Foundation's Shot@Life, a movement to help save children's lives by expanding access to vaccines (and give them a shot at life). Every day in August, bloggers participating in Blogust will write about someone who's given them a sense of community and support. For every comment left on one of those posts, sponsors will donate $20 to Shot@Life.

Leave a comment on a post. 45 seconds.

In this amazing World Wide Web we inhabit, together we can do so much World Wide Good in 45 seconds. You can help a child. A mom. Whoever. And it's going to make you feel incredible.

Take the 45 seconds.


  1. Very cool! Are you, by any chance, participating in Blogust?

  2. I know, SO cool! I'm not participating in Blogust though I plan on commenting up a storm! You'll soon be able to see a list of bloggers who are doing it here:


Thanks for sharing!