Making a better world

Top 10 CNN Hero, Derreck Kayongo, shares tips from his experience of doing charitable work in order to make the world a better place
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Making a better world

Creating a stand and making the world a better place and creating an organization that something will actually fill those spaces, I think when you get violent in some way, or when something really bad happens to you, it forces into a stand: whatever stand it is. I was portioned out that the stand I was forced into was that of helping others. If I have to first go through a painful process, a breakdown of character, and all those, because I thought, "My parents were doing very well. We were well-to-do, There was no problem in the world." And until that war happened that I was forced to become a refugee that that's when I realized, "Oh my goodness! This is such a big need." What can I do? Others go back and fight; others do other things, but I was lucky that the universe brought together this idea in Sodofia at the hotel and provided that SOAP idea. So, that gave me that stand. I tried to fill that space with a solution. Then, how do you actually go about making the decision work and function? I have to pay some quietness into my soul. It took me 11 years to live in the US, before I actually set the Global SOAP project. What else was I doing? I was creating networks, building them, and getting to know the system. How does a non-full profit organization gets viewed and set-up in the US? So by getting that knowledge base, I then was able to understand how to operationalize the idea, the vision. Then how does it make a difference? Once you operationalize the vision, conceptualize it, and give it legs to Board Members, donors and all that bit stuff. Then, you look at partners. I have to look at the victims: people who I was going to service, my customer base, and what their needs were. That's how I was able to, actually, bring that "triyaka" that triat together towards to make it function. It takes patience, deliberateness, gumption, and courage to do all those things. Little bit of humble pie.

Top 10 CNN Hero, Derreck Kayongo, shares tips from his experience of doing charitable work in order to make the world a better place


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Derreck Kayongo

Parent with a Purpose

Derreck Kayongo is a social entrepreneur and the founder of The Global Soap Project. An executive and development expert, Derreck Kayongo has more than 15 years experience developing strategic social campaigns within organizations for cause-related advocacy, public policy, issue management, and community organizing. His work has made a profound contribution in raising awareness aimed at realizing permanent solutions to global poverty.

Kayongo’s journey from child refugee to fearless visionary is filled with moments of inspiration (along with the benefits of good, old-fashioned sweat equity) that make him one of the most popular – and authentic – speakers on the circuit today. From Africa to Atlanta with nothing but a dream and tenacity, Kayongo beat the odds, earned an education, and has served in leadership roles in some of the world’s most respected non-governmental agencies (NGOs) since 1994. Today, he shares his vivacious spirit and invaluable experience in the areas entrepreneurship, environmental sustainability, global health, social justice and professional engagement with audiences in both the corporate and not-for-profit worlds.

Derreck Kayongo’s ability to motivate others to understand the role their work and skills can play in problem solving is one of the many reasons he was chosen as a finalist for the 2011 CNN Hero of the Year AwardAdd to that the mantra of being a voice for the voiceless through his noble work of giving back, including dedicating his life to improving the lives of marginalized and vulnerable people across the globe: he has worked with the American Friends Service Committee as Program Director for the Southeast Peace Education program; joined Amnesty International as the Director of the Southeast Region; and currently serves as Senior Advocacy Coordinator for the Southeast region with CARE International.

In 2009, Kayongo and his wife Sarah embarked on a new journey pursuing their life-long passion of starting an NGO of their own. The Global Soap Project focuses on repurposing partially-used soap from hotels into new soap for needy populations, particularly in Africa. To date, The Global Soap Project has been able to donate 9,000 bars of soap to Swaziland, 5,000 bars to Kenya, 10,000 to Ghana, 1,000 to Uganda and another 3,000 to Haiti.

Derreck Kayongo is a proud naturalized U.S. citizen. He has been recognized as a 2011 CNN HEROES finalist and a COX Enterprise nominee; honored by Congressman John Lewis with a Certificate of Congressional Recognition; is currently writing his autobiography; has been featured in more than 20 news stories in the U.S., featured on Fox News as part of the Real American story series; featured on CNN with Fredricka Whitfield.

Since 1994, Derreck Kayongo has given more than 300 speeches on key issues related to poverty reduction in Africa; mainly on water and sanitation, soap, HIV/AIDS, Child Soldiers, Health and Sanitation, Impact of Landmines in Africa, Countries in Conflict and role of basic Education for Girls in Africa.

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