South Lake Tahoe local’s Health 2 Humanity soap aids overseas
If you buy ...
Tahoe Locations: BioSpirit, Gaia-Licious, Global Gifts, Tahoe Landing, MontBleu Onsen Spa, Grass Roots Natural Foods, Top Drawer and online at www.h2hsoap.com
Scents: peppermint, lemon, lavender and unscented
Purchases go to: job creation, hygiene improvement and developing the H2H team
What began as a philanthropic dorm room soap-making project in 2013 turned into a nonprofit organization — with South Lake Tahoe native John Cefalu at the helm.
Planning to graduate from Chapman University this December with a business administration degree and marketing emphasis, the 21-year-old Cefalu continues his work with Health 2 Humanity (H2H) — an organization he founded that focuses on empowering developing countries the same year he began making soap. Now it’s manufactured in bulk in Concord, California.
Cefalu visited Kenya for the first time in 2012, and the locals’ insufficient access to hygiene products inspired him to find a solution. He began H2H — a two-faceted company with corporate and nonprofit sides. The corporate side sells soap, while the nonprofit teaches people in developing countries vocational skills.
“It doesn’t help to simply give goods and services,” Cefalu said. “We wanted to empower individuals in these nations to do it on their own without us having to hold their hands the whole time and create dependency.”
On Monday, July 25, H2H begins a crowdfunding campaign to raise $40,000. The money will go toward soap production and spreading the nonprofit to other countries. Expansion includes more vocational programs that create jobs, skills development and education, and implementing hygiene solutions.
“In Africa we have contacts in almost every country that want us to implement our program,” Cefalu said. “It’s just a matter of growing and bringing in donors.”
Each year, over a million people die from diseases that can be avoided with good hygiene. At its core, H2H is about improving sanitation, but the company goes beyond providing cleaning supplies. Its #NoMoreDirtyHands and Fight Against Giving movements work to create long-lasting solutions by teaching people the skills to make their own soap. This practice creates cleaner communities, as well as jobs that equip people to run their own businesses.
“Basically they’re empowerment opportunities,” Cefalu said. “We create an infrastructure that has four individuals who take ownership of the business, and create partnerships so they’re running their own businesses and creating their own opportunities.”
The first H2H African soap business was established in Kenya in May 2014. H2H now sponsors 12 locations throughout Kenya, Uganda and Ghana. According to Cefalu, four new locations were established within the last year.
Since its conception, H2H has donated more than 20,000 bars of soap, according to the H2H Global site. Twenty-two jobs have been created through the company’s lessons on vocational skills, which include sales, marketing, soap making and accounting, among others.
“An impact doesn’t come down to numbers. It comes down to how many people you’re actually touching and if it’s going to last beyond your existence,” Cefalu said. “If we were to go away tomorrow and our program no longer functions, we’re not doing something right.”
One success story comes in the form of Denis Toolit, H2H manager of the Gulu branch in northern Uganda. Toolit grew up in Uganda during the time of Joseph Kony, the leader of Lord’s Resistance Army, and narrowly escaped enslavement. He met Cefalu just over a year ago and has been with H2H since, serving his community through hygiene education and appreciating the opportunity to be part of the organization.
“What we’re doing in Africa — Uganda, Ghana, Kenya — is changing the lives of people,” Toolit said. “I’ve got to know how to transform the community and how to make [it] clean.”
To Toolit, one of the most important aspects of H2H is the focus on creating jobs.
“During the war people had no reason to be alive. Telling people that they have a purpose, I have seen a lot of improvement,” he added. “Unemployment in Uganda is so high. H2H is saving all-aged people all over Uganda.”
Cefalu eventually wants to see H2H locations across the globe.
“It’s proven itself so well in these three countries,” he explained. “We see it being something that can really change the way aid is implemented. It focuses more on the idea of human achievement and opportunities.”
To donate to the crowdfunding campaign starting July 25, visit http://www.crowdrise.com/health-2-humanity2/fundraiser/health-2humanity.