By heather meikle
April 27, 2012
More than 5,000 children will die today because they lack access to soap and water—fundamental tools that can easily protect from some of the deadliest diseases. Michael Feeley co-founded MeSoap as a way to combat those statistics. Through strategic partnerships (MeSoap recently partnered with Living Water International for on-the-ground distribution), MeSoap donates a bar of soap for every bar they sell. Here, we talk with Feeley about the organization's beginnings and why soap is just so important.
Can you give some background on MeSoap?
The simple premise of MeSoap is for every bar of MeSoap you purchase we donate a bar (or the equivalent of one) to a child in need. One for one. We want to not only provide hygiene supplies and access to clean water, but also educate and enable communities to continue the healthy practices themselves and make a generational, rather than one time, impact on people.
I have always been an entrepreneur. I struck it rich with one of my first ventures back in the dot com era and thought I had it all, only to hastily lose my wealth and be riddled with debt from the next venture. Christ saved me during that remarkably humbling experience and used it for good. Once I became a Christian, my quest for wealth and power was replaced with a drive to help others. MeSoap was conceived when I met up with Garth, who shared my passion for helping people, good design and start-ups. We discussed ideas, and discovered that the biggest need in our world (other than knowing Christ) is access to clean water, sanitation supplies and hygiene education.
Clean water has become the talk of social circles for good reason but proper sanitation becomes an afterthought or the asterisk to clean water campaigns. It is important that we look at the whole picture and make sure that we provide the education needed to the communities so they understand why they need to wash their hands and drink clean water. Without this understanding the community is likely to just go back to their old ways, get sick and not be able to live to their full potential.
With all of the above being said, spreading the Gospel needed to be a component of whatever we decided to do. Our job as Christians is not only to serve people, but to also introduce them to the love of Jesus.How do you go beyond the “give a man a fish” mentality? Why is it important to teach people the necessity of learning proper hygiene?
Education is everything. You can only give someone so many fish before the funding runs out, leaving the people you serve with nothing left to eat. You're better off providing a fishing pole with an encompassing knowledge of how to properly use it. It is the only real solution.
You recently partnered with Living Water. How has that partnership changed the future of MeSoap?
Living Water International is what makes MeSoap work. If it wasn't for our field partner, our charitable arm would be just a dream waiting to be fulfilled. They do all the heavy lifting and have allowed us to realize our mission of helping children in need. Their core values of Honor God, Develop People, Pursue Excellence and Be Good Stewards are perfectly aligned with our values and their expertise has been absolutely invaluable and has helped shape our mission and thinking.
How is the soap made? Is that process socially conscious?
Yes, but we are always looking to improve! Our handmade natural soap is organically certified, not tested on animals in any way and is not created with any synthetic fragrances, dyes, or preservatives. Rather than make the soap ourselves we decided to hire a group of soapmakers in Montana. I have personally given it a go and we definitely made the right decision! It was important to us to ensure a top quality product that was in the spirit of our mission.
Why is soap so important to you?
Introducing soap into hand washing can reduce water-related deaths by upwards of 45 percent. Think about that. It is really an amazing stat and it is what made us move towards selling soap to support our mission. If we can get soap into the hands of children and teach them the benefits we can really save a lot of lives. This is very exciting news and when you couple it with sharing the Gospel—oh man, what an amazing combination!
How can readers get involved?
Simple. Buy MeSoap (order online at AbesMarket.com, drugstore.com and Amazon.com). Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter. And most importantly, spread the word! If for some reason you are adverse to being clean then make a donation to Living Water International or your favorite Christian based water/sanitation charity. Just do something!