CONSULTING & COLLABORATING IN RWANDA
When like-minded people come together, great things happen.
At Sundara, we believe soap and hygiene should we accessible to all and foster relationships with other people and organizations working towards this same goal.
In that same collaborative spirit, two Rwandan organizations allowed us to visit their projects - with a special request to share some of our expertise.
The first partner we worked with is our counterpart Eco-Soap Bank, who runs women-led soap recycling programs in Cambodia, Nepal, Laos, Lebanon, South Africa and Rwanda. They are working towards improving their new Rwanda operations, run by the local nonprofit Hope Shines, and asked for us to consult and advise on hotel partnerships, soap waste collection, soap recycling process efficiency. We also advised on hygiene education messages to be disseminated during distributions. The Hope Shines team runs educational programs for vulnerable youth in Kigali and social enterprise projects for the communities where they work.
A second consultancy opportunity was with Agahozo-Shalom Youth Village (ASYV) who runs an educational institution, modeled after a village, for vulnerable teenagers and young adults in Rwamagana, Rwanda. They run monthly hygiene workshops. Their Health & Wellness team asked us for our inputs on how to improve the efficiency of hygiene messages discussed during these workshops, especially regarding illness transmission (e.g. cold, flu, diarrhea) and behavior change.
With the Eco-Soap Bank/Hope Shines team, we developed strategies to strengthen and expand hotel commitment - focusing on CSR opportunities and marketing value for hospitality partners, developed a soap waste collection system, and a process to troubleshoot when faced with lower soap waste collections. We also assessed the soap recycling process and were able to provide suggestions of how to better prepare the soap for molding. We offered efficient and faster packaging solutions that would save time and costs, allowing more of a focus on soap production, rather than packaging. Finally, we discussed key hand and body hygiene messages and environmental and behavior strategies that promote them.
With the ASYV team, we worked on strategies to involve the Healthy Living Group - a group of 30 students who are Health & Wellness representatives in their respective homes - in promoting healthy hygiene behaviors to their peers. We focused the discussions on ways to make hygiene promotion fun, interactive and interesting for teenagers and young adults, such as making music videos, skits and using comedy. We also held an educational session for the “mamas” - who each oversee and head a home in the village - to reinforce key hygiene messages that they need to promote within the homes and at school.
Taking time to monitor and evaluate an operation from the bottom up, is key to improving efficiency and is a great driver of success. It was such a pleasure to collaborate with Eco-Soap Bank/Hope Shines as well as the ASYV Health & Wellness teams. Both organizations impressed us with their will to self-reflect, analyze, receive and apply feedback - both illustrating an admirable commitment to their projects and the communities they work with.