10.14.2012

Soap Making with The Nourish Collective

Have you ever met someone that after a few days together, you feel you've known for a lifetime? Well, I met a nurse on the mission in Silchar whom is exactly that! I knew of Melissa before meeting her from my flat mate so I was rather excited to finally get to know her! She is a part of a non-profit called The Nourish Collective and her project within the organization is teaching woman how to make soap for a trade. She has worked to create a whole soap making manual, community assessments, hand hygiene education and has traveled to a few different countries to teach soap making. She wasn't originally planning to come to Guwahati after the mission but her original plans got cancelled last minute, so her visit here was pretty much written in the stars. I was so excited to have her and two other friends from the mission over; to show them the surgical center, where I live but most of all the children! We trialed 3 different batches of soap and hope to some day in the near future collaborate to teach the older girls and young woman in Lakhtokia how to make soap for a small business!!

Can I just say that soap making is not easy, and it takes a huge understanding of oils, chemistry, local availability of products to make a good recipe, so there is a lot to learn. We made the first batch in my flat by using measuring cups instead of a scale and it did not work out so well! The soap is very brittle and powdery so I will probably use it as laundry detergent or for dishes if it doesn't turn out too oily. We reassessed after the first batch, and even convinced a local shop keeper to allow us to weigh the oils and lye on his scale. There was quite a crowd as we stood there for half an hour weighing it all out :) The next day we made batches 2 and 3 and I think we have a winner! It still has to cure for another 2 weeks but I just cut them into bars and it is looking pretty promising. I tested each ones suds-ability and was impressed with it!

More importantly, Melissa brought lots of soap from home (she holds the record for making the largest bar of soap in the world) and the kids are using it to wash their hands before eating on Sundays! They loved their 'sappon' and clean water this past weekend. They were all very cooperative and washed up first before getting in line for food then came back for another washing after eating. I love being able to incorporate hand hygiene into Sundays!

Here is to hoping for many future collaborations between Melissa/ The Nourish Collective which may or may not involve attempting to convince her to move here for a few months :)




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