Hand Washing Station for Miracle of Love Home (A Don 

Bosco Institute)

Iris C F Gomes 

The new extension of Margaret Bosco Bal Sadan (MBBS), the boys home managed by the Salesians of Don Bosco, has received a hand washing station thanks to the collaboration of the NGO Sundara, and Delta Hotels by Marriott. The hand washing station was inaugurated on the 8th of November 2019 with Heather Jacobs (Marketing Leader for Delta Hotels by Marriott), Kenneth De Souza (CEO and Managing Trustee of Sundara India), Vismita Rao (Project Officer for Sundara India), Stevan Barretto (Sundara India), hotel guests of Delta by Marriott, the Salesians and the boys of MBBS in attendance, with prayers and a blessing by Fr Joe Fernandes, Rector of MBBS, and the lighting of the ceremonial lamp by some of the dignitaries.

A prayer dance by some of the younger boys was followed by a skit by some of the older boys that told the story of the necessity of using soap to battle germs and bacteria, and thus stay healthy and strong, attend school regularly and become citizens who can contribute effectively to the country. Kenneth De Souza explained that this is the same skit used by Sundara to educate school children about the benefits of staying germ free with the use of soap. He applauded the boys for learning the script in a matter of 5 to 6 days and presenting it successfully.

Sundara is the brainchild of Erin Zaikis which commenced its work in 2016. The organisation collects bars of soap that are utilised in 5 star hotels and which would otherwise be dumped, creating more garbage. The prospect of dealing with the results of a minimum of 10,000 bars produced by one hotel leaching into the soil with the action of water is quite trepidatious. The volume of waste soap is a problem to rival that of waste plastic. Initially, after connecting with 6 hotels in Mumbai, a recycling centre was started in Kalwa. Kenneth said, ‘Today we have nearly 60 hotels on our list all over India. We have 5 work centres. Yesterday at our Vasco centre (at New Dawn Ashadeep Special School) it was so unique to see children who are mentally challenged take up this recycling in Goa, and the Marriott team was lucky to witness that.’

Sundara India employs only women, usually from lower income groups such as rural and tribal communities, in the recycling process, and thousands of children receive the bars of soap and hand hygiene education through the organisation. ‘Sundara has a triple ‘win-win-win’ formula. Usually people have a win-win situation. Our three wins are: the environmental challenge of dumping soap is solved because we reuse the soap; jobs, especially for women in rural areas; and the improvement in health and hygiene practices of children in tribal areas, in slums… who  need this the most. Most families cannot even buy a bar of soap in the villages.’ Over 200, 000 bars of soap have been distributed to children all over India by Sundara.  

Heather Jacobs said, ‘We started working with an organisation called Soap Box, and they supply the soaps in the hotels. What we decided to do as our brand, or our type of hotel – Delta, is that for every visit that somebody uses things in that room equals one donation of soap or money to help hygiene, children and people in need. And that is how we met Sundara, and we continue to grow. In the last 14 months, 1.9 million soap and resources have been donated by Delta by Marriott throughout the world. Meanwhile guests are being made aware of the charitable initiatives by non-profits such as Sundara and MBBS.

*All photographs are courtesy of Shirlene Crasto.

Fr Joe Fernandes injected some humour into the function by mentioning the confusion people usually go through on hearing about MBBS, which is also the abbreviation of Bachelor of Medicine and Bachelor of Surgery. But, he said many of the boys were far richer in life’s experiences and having the guiding light of MBBS have perhaps emerged better equipped to handle everyday struggles. ‘The way they have come out of this institution is amazing. All the fathers, brothers, volunteers and the staff over here… we feel proud of them. They may not be good in academics, but you talk to them about life and they will teach you something nobody else ever taught you in your life,’ said Fr Joe. Referring to the hand washing station, Fr Joe said it is these little things in life that make a big difference and offer a chance at a better future for these boys who either come from single-parent homes or are orphans.

The boys also received a bar of Sundara soap and a hand towel each and made an inaugural use of the hand washing station.