Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Death is for Poor People

Saving lives with a sense of urgency
As most of us know, deaths by preventable diseases are particularly prevalent in underdeveloped countries. That’s a fact. But we can help slow or stop the spread of these diseases by delivering life-saving soap and educating others on the importance of proper hygiene and improved sanitation.
Rob Phillips, guest blogger and Advisory Board Member at Clean the World, wrote this well-researched and thought-provoking blog post about the grim odds faced by many people in impoverished nations. He even provides sources for his research, in the event that you want to read more on this topic.
The statistics about death among poor people are blunt and gut-wrenching, and they serve to heighten the sense of urgency with our mission at Clean the World.
Statistics can’t tell the whole story, but they don’t have to. Clean the World knows that many people are in need of recycled soaps and bottled amenities, at home and abroad, to help fight preventable diseases. With your help we’ll create a “hygiene revolution” worth celebrating.
That’s why we’re planning another soap distribution Oct. 20-23 in Haiti. Our goal is to deliver 20,000 bars of soap (more than a ton) to various missions, homeless centers, schools and churches. We know the recycled soaps provided by our hotel partners and generous friends will go a long way toward improving the lives and living conditions of children and families in Haiti. We’ll share more details about the Haiti trip as our plans move forward. It’s just a small part of what we do, but it makes a world of difference.
As always, thanks for helping Clean the World.
Shawn Seipler
Executive Director
Clean the World
Death is for Poor People
by Robert Phillips, J.D.
In sub-Saharan and East Africa inside places like Mozambique and Zambia, owners of some of the most horrifying mortality statistics in the world, I would be at the end of my life expectancy(1); I am 42 years old.
Andy Rooney of 60 Minutes fame has been quoted as saying “Death is a distant rumor to the young.” (2)It is a profoundly naive and perhaps uniquely American thought.
With maliciously conspicuous precision and success, death pursues the world’s impoverished. In the world’s poorest nations, 36% of the population will die before the age of 14 compared to 1% of the population in the world’s wealthiest nations(3). Only 21% of global societies poorest citizens will reach the age of 70 compared to 70% of the wealthiest citizens. (4)Warren Buffett calls being born in America “winning the ovarian lottery.” (5)Statistically he is accurate. 
Small children are the most at risk category of people and for the most preventable of reasons. In much of Africa, Asia and South America where extreme poverty is the most common denominator, diarrheal diseases and pneumonia are 2 of the top 3 leading causes of death in children under the age of 5. (6)In the modern world we have learned to prevent the transmission of these diseases with immunizations, clean water and proper sanitation including suitable latrines and handwashing. Diarrheal disease alone, which claimed nearly 2 million lives in 2004, (7)mostly young children, can be reduced by 52% (8)with proper handwashing with common bar soap. 

If you do the quick math, nearly 600,000 kids could have been saved from an extremely painful death with a household item we take for granted. In these poor nations, it is the inability to stop the insidious, nutrient ravaging disease once it takes root from killing its target audience, but proper handwashing with soap can prevent the disease in the first place.

Even in the United States, we see higher incidences of diarrheal diseases in nursing homes and day care centers (9)where proper handwashing hygiene is tested and interpersonal transmission is more likely. But deaths from diarrheal diseases in wealthy countries, such as the United States, are infrequent. 
In the late 1800’s and even into the early 1900’s as the New York City slums were teeming with new peoples in horrific living conditions we see in faded pictures, our nation underwent a hygiene revolution. Our scientists and civic leaders learned that microbial marauders were causing our children, our wounded, our birthing mothers and those of us unlucky enough to get a severe cold, to die. Improvements in personal hygiene behavior as well as sanitation and water supply infrastructures dramatically reduced the infectivity once suffered.

But in much of the developing world, 2 billion people are still at risk of dying due to infectious and transmittable diseases caused by a lack of sanitation;(10) they are still awaiting a “hygiene revolution” similar to what the wealthier countries of the world, including the United States, encountered in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. 
Just imagine what recycling soap can do to save lives, especially among young children, and help Clean the World?


Endnotes:





1 CIA: The World Fact Book: Life Expectancy at Birth  https://www.cia.gov/library/publications/the-world-factbook
2
Quote Garden: Quotations About Death http://www.quotegarden.com/death 
3 World Health Organization: Top 10 Causes of Death; Fact Sheet No 310; November 2008 
4  Id. 
5 My Philanthropic Pledge   by Warren Buffett  Fortune Magazine  June 16, 2010
6  World Health Organization: Top 10 Causes of Death; Fact Sheet No 310; November 2008
7
  Id. 
8 “Soap Health Study, Karachi, Pakistan, 2002-03” conducted by Dr. Stephen Luby, Findings Published various times most recently November 2008, for Cal Berkeley “Critical Ignorance in Water, Sanitation and Hygiene” 
9  Diarrheal Diseases 101: Diarrhea Got You Down in the Dumps?  Ingrid Koo, Ph. D., About.com, Nov. 10, 2008 
10  UNICEF/WHO Joint Monitoring Programme (2000) Global Water Supply and Sanitation Assessment, page 6

Friday, September 17, 2010

Soap Feels Like Home

What have you done lately to help your neighbor?

It’s so easy to get lost in our own world, consumed by our own challenges. But if we ask that simple question, we open a world of possibility for personal and professional growth.

At Clean the World, we take our responsibilities to our neighbors very seriously. We’re blessed to be able to grow an organization in central Florida, and we’re happy to expand our soap recycling mission around the globe. We’ve been fortunate enough to distribute our recycled soaps and bottled amenities to more than 30 countries worldwide, but we never lose sight of the needs of people in our own backyard.
Recycled hygiene products have made their way into the hands of needy people in central Florida and beyond. Local homeless shelters, domestic abuse safe havens, and women’s shelters have received multiple deliveries of hygiene kits each month through Clean the World.

Here’s just one example: Sanford Hope Team. The Seminole County charity locates and cares for homeless people in the communities north of Orlando, Fla. They go into the woods and speak with homeless people living there, get to know them better and offer help in the form of hygiene kits that include our soap.

Just last week, two members of the team received 500 bars of recycled soaps from Clean the World that have been distributed to people who need them most. No questions asked.

“People are reluctant to step forward and say they need help, but we try to be a discreet as possible,” says Anthony Saunders, outreach specialist at Sanford Hope Team. “We understand that people have pride and we respect that. But once they call, most are very courteous and grateful to receive help. They just want to be clean.”

Saunders and his fellow outreach specialist, Doug Little, estimate that there are more than 500 homeless people in the Sanford area. Some have been homeless for years; others have just fallen on tough times during a lingering economic recession.

“Many have lost businesses, lost their homes, and lost hope,” Saunders says. “There are homeless military veterans who have struggled to find jobs. They’re not just people looking for handouts. They have dignity. Basic soap is so important to them. It’s really humbling to see how people live. We take so much for granted, but when you see this every day, it’s heartbreaking.”

And that’s why Clean the World is happy to help. Our soaps and bottled amenities are paired with shaving cream, washcloths, socks and underwear to form hygiene kits that are distributed to people in need. We’re just a small part of that package, but we are proud to help in any way possible. The goal, of course, is to eliminate the need, but until we do, we’ll keep providing recycled soaps wherever a need arises.

Sanford Hope Team is just one of the local central Florida charities served by Clean the World and our hotel partners. We also have domestic distribution of recycled soaps and bottled amenities to Orlando Union Rescue Mission, The Salvation Army of Central Florida, various church and school groups, and individuals and smaller groups on request. Soap cleanses, and it feels like home. It also uplifts the spirit – of those receiving the gift and those who do the giving.

Each day around the world more than 9,000 children die from preventable diseases, such as acute respiratory illness and diarrheal disease, because they don’t have the opportunity to wash with bar soap.  Whether these children are in the United States or in foreign countries, they deserve a better fate.

We can help prevent the spread of disease simply by increasing the availability of germ-killing, life-saving soap. That’s how we help our neighbors. Now, how will you help yours?

One final note with sadness, but great respect and admiration, Clean the World offers its condolences to the Sanford Hope Team, who recently lost a key member of their team.  Steve “Rocky” Cook was instrumental in connecting Sanford Hope Team with Clean the World. Rocky died suddenly this month after a brief battle with cancer. He will be remembered in our hearts and prayers, but also in the continued work of the Sanford Hope Team and their dedication to eliminating homelessness in Seminole County.

Thanks for helping Clean the World,
Shawn Seipler
Executive Director
Clean the World
www.cleantheworld.org

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Clean the World is Turning Japanese

Sushi? Nope, it's soap!!

We’ve been fortunate at Clean the World to receive quite a bit of positive media attention for our soap recycling and distribution efforts. You’ve seen us featured on Fox News Channel, CNN, CBS Evening News and many local TV broadcasts. And you may have read about us in USA Today, many local newspapers and magazines – and this blog.

But this week we went global in a big way. TV Tokyo broadcast a special report on Clean the World during its Aug. 31 evening broadcast that originates from New York. It will be rebroadcast Sept. 5 in the United States and twice in Japan during the next week. That’s wide-ranging exposure for Clean the World that should help improve our outreach among Asian nations and hotel partners. And we’re very excited to receive feedback from potential partners and eager soap recycling supporters all over the world.

We were honored with a two-day visit in early August by TV Tokyo producer Mariko Daicho and her crew, who spent considerable time at our Orlando headquarters and with some of our Orlando hotel partners. The crew filmed our soap recycling operation – from delivery to initial scraping; steam-cleaning to sanitization; repackaging and delivery. Quite a process to capture in a single news story, but it’s something we are proud to do every day for people in need.

The TV Tokyo story examines Clean the World’s success in helping recycle soap for impoverished children and families, but it does so from a business perspective:
-        Why should corporations join with Clean the World to help expand our mission?
-        How can hotel partners work with Clean the World to improve the environment, eliminate landfill waste and help repurpose hotel soaps for communities who may never visit their hotels?
-        How do you leverage a business imperative for social good?
We hope you’ll all be watching. And even though the story is in Japanese, I’m sure the positive message will translate to all who see it and cheer for a cleaner, healthier world.

Many thanks to our friends at the Peabody Orlando hotel for helping provide professional courtesy and an interview space for several segments. And special thanks to Marshall Kelberman, director of rooms administration at Peabody Orlando, for being so gracious and accommodating during the TV Tokyo visit.

Once the story airs in Japan, we’ll share the link with you. We’ll hope to translate all the good parts and share them with you in a future blog post. Stay tuned…

Thanks for helping us Clean the World,
Shawn Seipler
Executive Director
Clean the World