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Kamen Sydney: Repairing the World One Bar at a Time

Kamen Sydney

“It does not matter how long you are spending on the earth, how much money you have gathered or how much attention you have received. It’s the amount of positive vibrations you have radiated in life that matters.”

– Amit Ray


In our world, we all have eyes that look and observe but we see differently because diverse factors contribute to how we perceive and understand things. If different people were asked to look and describe a glass cup half-filled with water, one might say the cup is half full, another might say it is half empty, another might say it is empty depending on how they choose to see and understand what is being studied. We all have eyes but our perspectives of things differ and eyes that see opportunities are few.

One of such eyes that see differently is that of Kamen Sydney, a 20-year-old student of Dartmouth College who hails from Washington DC, an inspiring young leader who came to an understanding of how soap – which seems to be an abundant commodity to some people – can become a vital weapon against poor hygiene that enhances the spread of fatal diseases such as Ebola, diarrhoea, cholera amongst others.

Kamen, who was raised by parents who are advocates of giving back to the society, started her volunteering in soup kitchens and service trips as a child. At 15, she was part of the relief mission to Haiti where she worked with other volunteers including those in the medical field. Her many service trips exposed and enlightened her on sanitation issues around the world further inspiring her to establish her own non-profit, So Others Are Protected (SOAP), which she launched in Thailand.

The program involves workers gathering donations of used soaps from luxury hotels which are then recycled through cleaning, melting and reshaping by locals and then distributed in the rural and high-risk communities. To Kamen, “hand washing is a global health solution that has been largely overlooked“. She believes that through it, mortality of infectious diseases can be cut in half. Her dedication, zeal, and focus has resulted in the expansion of the program to six countries – India, Thailand, Rwanda, Myanmar, Uganda and Kenya with 14 community partners, 13 hotel partners and more than 50,000 bars of recycled soap.

Kamen’s focus on sustainable hygiene and dedication to issues of global health has been recognized with different awards such as the 2017 Tikkun Olam (Repairing the World) Award from the Helen Diller Family Foundation, the Prudential Spirit of Community Award, the President’s Volunteer Service Award, the Daily Points of Light Award and the Robert Sheppard Leadership Award.

Just like Kamen, we should learn to look beyond the problems to sustainable solutions. Remember, when we look the right way, we will realize the whole world is filled with treasures waiting to be found.


Image from YouTube.

Khemmie Ray
A passionate writer whose world revolves around arts and aesthetics.

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