Benjamin and I spent 11 days in Fiji, teaching two groups the art and science of soap making as part of Lovin Soap Project.
The main group we taught was the staff at a mission. The mission is called Mission at Natuvu Creek. They offer free services to the community including medical, dental and vision. When it comes to general medical issues, people come in with scabies, secondary infections from itching and scratching and other general skin issues that could be avoided by proper hygiene.
And this is where we came in. They wanted to be able to make an inexpensive soap to give to patients and local community schools and churches.
We ended up making two different soaps. One was a 100% coconut oil bar with a 15% superfat, scented with tea tree. Coconut oil is super-abundant. They make their own, but can purchase it locally for even cheaper! We found 150 oz. bottles for about $5.00 each. Can you imagine?! We used tea tree because it is naturally anti-bacterial and anti-microbial, making it perfect for skin issues. Fiji has a lot of influence from close by Australia, so everyone loved tea tree and had come across it before.
The other soap we made used coconut oil, sunflower oil, olive oil and different essential oil blends. We called this the fancy soap to sell to mission visitors and volunteers.
We worked out the pricing and each bar of clinic soap (coconut only) would cost $.20 for 65 grams (1/2 a bar). Each bar of fancy soap costs $.80 for 130 grams. They will sell the fancy soap for $8.00 each. Selling one bar of fancy soap at $8.00 per bar will pay the cost of 36 clinic soap bars. How amazing is that?!?! Even though it wasn’t quite cured (and we explained to the purchasers how to cure it) we sold about 18 bars of soap at $8.00 each. This will cover the cost of 256 clinic bars to be produced and donated to the community!
Caustic soda and base oils were super easy to find, essentials oils…not so much. We told the mission that they should just ask volunteers to bring essential oils when they come and that they can make soap with the staff as part of their experience there at the mission. People would love that!
The second group we taught was added last minute and came as a surprise. Benjamin and I were to visit an organic sanctuary called Gaiatree Sanctuary run by Natasha and Matt. Originally from Canada, they ended up in Fiji eight years ago, built an organic sanctuary, complete with dome houses, and are now Fijian citizens. When they learned we were soap makers, they wanted to learn. So they graciously put us up for a night (we slept in a beautiful white concrete dome) and we taught them soapmaking. The super cool thing was that they invited leaders and people in their community that could really use the skill (such as a teacher).
It was quite the cast of characters that came to learn! We had a wonderful time and really loved connecting with their beautiful friends. We made bar soap and liquid soap.
Natasha and Matt’s organic sanctuary is full of amazing and interesting things. Trees, herbs, fruits and vegetables take up every square inch of the property. We were fed two meals that were made using ingredients from the garden. Natasha greeted us with a handful of herbs and flowers freshly picked from the garden that were to go into lunch that day.
Natasha’s cabinet was full of jars with various dried herbs, syrups, vinegars, sugarcane and other homemade pantry staples. It was so fun to see everything she had going on!
This was such a wonderful trip! Benjamin and I feel so good about what we accomplished with Natuvu and it’s staff. We feel confident that the soap project will be a vital part of their ministry and community outreach. Enjoy some photos!