Handcrafted Soap Distribution in Refugee Camps: Countermeasures against COVID-19

Since August, AAR Japan (Association for Aid and Relief, Japan) has been promoting the "Soap Campaign" along with emergency fundraising to fight the COVID-19. AAR staff members who had temporarily returned to Japan are now going back to their resident offices and distributing the soap sent by our supporters. This is a report from Uganda and Bangladesh.

Children smile as they receive soaps from AAR staff. In the center of the front row is Aya Fujita (November 16, 2020)

Refugee settlements in Uganda

On November 16, at the Inwepi refugee settlement in Terego County, northern Uganda, where South Sudanese refugees live, AAR staff members distributed soaps to children with disabilities and their siblings at a workshop for their parents. AAR handed out home-study materials, notebooks, pencils, and pens prepared by the country's Ministry of Education along with soaps.

Some of the soaps were handmade by high school students of Otsuma Nakano Junior and Senior High School (Nakano-ku, Tokyo). A girl who received the soaps and stationery said, "High school students in Japan made this? Thank you very much.  I want to wash my hands properly and study a lot," with a smile.

A girl washes her hands using the water tank set up by AAR and the soap distributed to her.

Rohingya refugees camps in Bangladesh

About a million Rohingya refugees, a Muslim minority who fled from Myanmar, are staying in Cox's Bazar district in southeastern Bangladesh. From November 22 to 25, AAR distributed soaps to the attendees and volunteer staff of the Child-Friendly Space (CFS) and the Women Friendly Space (WFS) in Jadimulla and Alikali refugee camps. We also handed out colorful handmade soaps to girls aged 12-15 who participated in hygiene awareness sessions held in rural areas around the camp. And their faces lit up when they learned that the soaps were made by Japanese girls of their generation. 

Misa Machimura (right), an AAR staff, hands a handmade soap to Sinjahan (left), a hygiene awareness volunteer from a local cooperative organization. In the center is Damra, a local employee of AAR (November 25, 2020)

Ms. Samira, a hygiene awareness volunteer from a local partner organization, receiving handmade soap (November 25, 2020)

AAR staff member Sanjukta (left, November 22, 2020) handing out soap to male volunteers at the Friendly Space.


AAR will continue to work to protect the lives and health of refugees around the world affected by COVID-19. We would appreciate your warm support.

*The soap campaign has already ended.