Derreck Kayongo will discuss his journey from child refugee to international humanitarian relief champion on Wednesday, Feb. 19, at 7:30 p.m. in Shilling Hall's Albert Taylor Theatre on the Millikin University campus. This event is free and open to the public; no reservations or tickets required.
After fleeing war-ravaged Uganda more than 30 years ago, Kayongo and his parents settled for a time in Kenya. While visiting Kenyan refugee camps, the young Kayongo observed friends and family struggling to survive without basic necessities. Their struggles would help shape the humanitarian relief missions Kayongo would undertake as an adult.
In 2009, Kayongo and his wife, Sarah, started The Global Soap Project, which focuses on repurposing partially-used soap from hotels into new, sanitized soap for needy populations, particularly in Africa. The Global Soap Project currently produces 30,000 bars of soap per week and so far, has donated more than 500,000 bars of soap to over 20 countries, including Afghanistan, Iraq, Swaziland, Kenya, Ghana, Uganda, Haiti and Malawi. In 2013, The Global Soap Project earned an endorsement from the American Hotel and Lodging Association.
Since his arrival in the U.S. in the 1990s, Kayongo has earned a college degree, become a naturalized citizen and served in leadership roles in some of the world's most respected humanitarian aid organizations, including Amnesty International and CARE International. He is also a regular columnist with The Huffington Post. A recipient of the Maxx Entrepreneurship Award and the Refugee Services Award, Kayongo was also named a 2011 CNN Hero, recognized as one of 24 "everyday people changing the world."
Kayongo's appearance is Millikin's 2014 James W. Moore Lecture. The lecture was established in 1991 to honor the late James W. Moore of Decatur. Moore's children, Madeline and James "Mac" Moore, created the endowed fund to present speakers on campus who represent "innovative or progressive political or artistic views."