Making Do With Soda Soap was my first-ever blog, a chronicle of my nine months in Sierra Leone from September 2008 to June 2009. I volunteered for an organization that provides surgical repairs and support to Sierra Leonean women suffering from obstetric fistula, a childbirth injury that has been eradicated in the developed world but that remains a persistent and devastating problem in many lower-income regions. I worked in a hospital five to six days a week, taking on administrative tasks, interacting with patients, gardening, and observing surgeries. One time, I helped lead efforts to fight a fire that broke out on hospital grounds.
The title comes from the history of soap in Sierra Leone (go here for more). Before the civil war, handmade soap (assembled with bicarbonate of soda and other ingredients) was passed over in favor of perfumed imported soaps. During the war, however, very little (if anything) was imported to the country–meaning that even “soda soap” became a luxury. Although some things have changed since the civil war (and you can get that fancy soap), there is still much that is limited. We were always making do with soda soap. The blog begins here.