The Story of Sophal – An ISF Soap Maker

A key community project is our Soap for Hope project, through which students’ parents earn a little extra income by making recycled soap that is then distributed for free in our communities.

One of our soap makers is 34-year-old Oung Sophal. She shares a small room with her husband, who is a moto-taxi driver, and two children. Her daughter is a student at ISF. In addition to being an ISF soap maker, Sophal recently got a job at a private sewing factory. The conditions she describes there are dire; she works seven days a week for very little pay. Sophal: “I have a five year old son at home. I need to take care of him. The sewing place is close to my home and I have a two hour lunch break so I can go back to take care of my child.” Poverty and lack of access to child care facilities in the Chbar Ampov area are forcing many young mothers to make similar decisions.

ISF’s Soap for Hope soap-making scheme allows Sophal to earn the extra income necessary for her family to survive. When ISF’s social workers advertised the positions in January 2015, she was one of the first to apply. “Making the soap only takes a few hours each month, I can do it at home while watching my son.” Sophal continues, “I have been working as a soap maker for ISF for a year and half. At first, I got the opportunity to learn making soap and then I was employed. I’m so happy that I can start working with ISF because the soap I have made I can share with people in my community and I can also earn some money from that for my family”.

Sophal produces around 50 to 100 big pieces of soap. A big piece of soap costs US$0.50 and Sophal earns around US$25-50 extra per month, doubling what she makes at the sewing factory. Sophal said, “Making soap is a very good experience for me, I am happy to work on this soap project to help my people and support my family