School in Bolivia Cleans Up Using Pedal-Powered Soap
Wednesday, June 10, 2015
Freddy Candia Aguilar, affectionately known as “MacGyver” for his uncanny ability to make something out of nothing, proudly held a banner with the words “Cochabamba Pedal Project” emblazoned on it. He had been providing free bike tune-ups all day to participants in Cochabamba, Bolivia’s first Bike and Pedestrian Day, while promoting his new social enterprise.
While Bike and Pedestrian Days are common in Bolivia, it was the first time Cochabamba Pedal Project participated. The organization came to life with the help of two Bolivian NGOs, a US-based nonprofit, two innovative American volunteers, and funding from an American social enterprise.
At the time of the Bike and Pedestrian Day, held this past April, Cochabamba Pedal Project was months in the making and at the very beginning and was never intended to be more than a month-long volunteer project.
The story began with another Freddy, Freddy Rosa Echeverria, the principal of a small school in Tiquipaya, on the outskirts of Cochabamba.
Principal Freddy smiled broadly as his elementary school students clamored to demonstrate to two American visitors the correct method for washing their hands.
“Just one volunteer,” he bellowed, but the children couldn’t contain their excitement. A dozen or more rushed to the front of the classroom. Freddy’s smile grew even more. He allowed them all to participate in the exercise. The students mimed the method they used for washing their hands. They lathered their hands intently, not wanting to miss any crease or crevice.
“This is how we wash our hands,” Freddy proudly told us.
Washing hands was such a big deal at Freddy’s school that students wanted to start a soap-making business. With help from Cochabamba Pedal Project, the school began realizing that dream.