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Hotel soap fighting disease abroad

November 19, 2011 -- Updated 2257 GMT (0657 HKT)
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Derreck Kayongo was named one of the top 10 CNN Heroes of 2011
  • His Global Soap Project recycles used hotel soap for people in need
  • Kayongo: "This world is going to be a better place than we found it"

(CNN) -- Derreck Kayongo's Global Soap Project collects used hotel soap bars, reprocessing it to save lives in impoverished countries.

Since 2009, the Atlanta-based nonprofit has provided about 150,000 bars of soap for communities in 10 countries, including Haiti, Kenya and Afghanistan.

Kayongo, a Uganda native, considers the soap he provides for poverty-stricken children "a first line of defense" to help fight disease. CNN asked him for his thoughts on being chosen as one of the top 10 CNN Heroes of 2011.

CNN: Where were you when you got the call that you'd been selected as a top 10 CNN Hero?

Derreck Kayongo: I was in my office at work, and I was really taken by surprise by this generous compliment.

Hero honored for 'hotel soap' campaign

It's very humbling and at the same time very rewarding to know that there are folk out there who think that we are doing something so important to human survival that it warrants recognition of this magnitude. On behalf of all the poor that live on a dollar a day, we receive this recognition with immense joy. Someone does really care!

CNN: What do you hope this recognition will mean to the Global Soap Project?

Kayongo: This will symbolize a firm acknowledgment by the American public that a new culture of good stewardship -- as it relates to recycling soap to help fight disease -- is long overdue.

From this day forth, gone is the day that one will travel and stay in a hotel and wonder what will happen to that bar of soap left behind. With this new recognition, (we hope) the Global Soap Project will be a formidable force in the fight against poor sanitation around the world.

CNN: What do you want people to know most about your work?

Kayongo: Before Global Soap Project, the hotel industry -- at no fault of their own -- threw away 8 million bars of soap every year.

Because of our work, this world is going to be a better place than we found it -- with no soap being thrown away and with no child or woman in a refugee camp or orphan or any vulnerable populous left without a bar of soap to fend off disease.

Read the full story on CNN Hero Derreck Kayongo:
Recycling hotel soap to save lives

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