Sydney Kamen

July 31, 2014
Points of Light Number: 
5273
Washington, DC

Many of us take for granted the basic sanitation available to us around every corner. Its almost standard to see a bottle of hand sanitizer at a reception desk now and soap is a necessary and underappreciated commodity. However, there are those living in areas were sanitation is not a standard, but a luxury. Sydney Kamen has committed herself to finding solutions to the countless issues that plaugue our world, but she became increasingly concerned about the sanitation and illness epidemic along the Thailand-Burma boarder villages and refugee camps. Too many have been subjected to illness and disease when basic sanitation could have decreased their risk of exposure. Sydney found this unacceptable and racked her brain for a solution.

Her solution was SOAP (So Others Are Protected). SOAP takes donated, used, or previously discarded soap from luxury hotels in South East Asia and recycles the shards into new bars of soap. Populations of refugees and underprivileged families live in cramped and unsanitary quarters. The spread of disease is rampant and lethal, as there is limited access to medical care, and little to no access to sources of sanitation. The soap bars go through an extensive process of cleaning, melting, and reshaping in order to provide a sustainable source of sanitation in communities and for individuals where sufficient sanitation products are not available. Locals oversee this process, but Sydney is the mastermind behind it all. Sydney works with local Thai and Burmese educators and healthcare professionals to figure out the best ways to recycle these products and the best ways to implement her vision. They work to create an immediate positive health impact that can be sustained for the rest of their lives while supporting local economies, and without creating a dependency. This is consolidated with the help of the service recipients and participators and local community organizations whom serve as mentors of the health initiative.

Sydney is a dedicated civil servant and the definition of a point of light. Her passions have driven her to opposite ends of the world and fueled her capacity to master the Thai language. Her mission has last two years now and has allowed her to work on the grounds in Thailand to bring her services to those in need. She has engaged and educated hundreds of mothers, children, and elderly people on how to be safe and sanitary to reduce their risk of illness. SOAP is continuously growing and expanding as international interest and support cultivates. Access to basic sanitation is a right everyone has, and thanks to Sydney more and more people are living healthier and longer lives with access to proper sanitation.

Sydney is bringing healthy living to the neediest in Thailand and Burma. Do you know someone helping others receive the healthcare they desperately need? Nominate them today for a Daily Point of Light Award!