- Roxanne Schorbach
This past July I made my second trip to Kabingo, Uganda. I learned many new things about the village and the people who live there. It was a good visit with some new and some returning volunteers that I had previously met.
My task was to photograph the work of the volunteers and to document activities around the village. I remember one day that Ashley Cox mentioned she wanted to pick up some soap that the primary school children had made and I asked to go along.
We were greeted by a dozen school children who had made special plans for presentations about their projects. One of them was Deus Ssewakiryang, a primary 4 student who described the process of making soap to us. He was a bit nervous, but his teacher coached him, as he explained the process used to mix, mold and bring to market bars of soap! He told us about the costs involved for the ingredients and how they priced and packaged the soap for market. We were impressed.
Then I found out that a group of women from Kabingo were also making soap. Their project was started in hopes of making a bit of extra income while saving money buying something they needed every day. In the market bars of soap sell for between 4,000 – 5,000 Ugandan Shillings, but they are able to make and sell Kabingo Soap for 3,500 Shillings - with a profit. Husbands are happy saving a little money and the women are happy being able to produce something of value that brought in a little profit.
Elizabeth Nabbanja, explained to Melissa Auvil and I their process of making soap. The group of women make two types of soap – bathing soap which has a bit of perfume included, and general cleaning soap. Last March, after making an outline and a rough business plan, the women pooled their money and purchased certain supplies and ingredients to make soap bars. A bucket, big stirring sticks, some caustic soda (lye), oil, perfume, a mold for the soap and a few other things were needed. The limiting factor was the mold as it would only produce 18 bars of soap for each production run.
After some time they understood and perfected the soap making process and hope to purchase more supplies, in particular another mold and more perfume, and increase production.
The women get together on a Friday afternoon to mix the solution then let it cool overnight. The following morning they meet again to finish the process and pour the soap into the mold to set. It’s a time of bonding and socializing while they are producing a product the whole community can benefit from.