CNN Hero Samir Lakhani


Samir Lakhani

Protecting children with imprisoned parents in earthquake-prone Nepal. Rescuing dogs from war-torn Afghanistan. Helping teenagers in the Philippines avoid gangs. These just a few of the things CNN Heroes have done in the decade since the award was first given by CNN in 2007. Samir Lakhani, one of this year’s honorees, is also a Pittsburgh resident. The 25-year is a Pitt graduate who volunteered in Cambodia while in college. He noticed a startling problem while he was there: a lack of soap, which contributed to the spread of illnesses. Inspired by the sight of a woman resorting to washing her child with laundry detergent, he set to work figuring out how to fix the problem. He soon realized that the solution literally sat in the palm of his hands every time he took a shower- hotel soap. Founded in 2014, Lakhani’s non-profit, Eco-Soap Bank, collects discarded soap from hotels, re-molds it, and distributes it across Cambodia. The process benefits the 35 women who work at Eco-Soap Bank’s four locations in Cambodia. The NGO works with local communities to encourage hygienic behavior, and over 650,000 people have received soap as a result of Eco-Soap Bank’s efforts.


If Lakhani wins the CNN Hero of the Year award, he will be awarded $100,000 in addition to the $10,000 he has already earned for his organization. To vote, click on the link below. Voting ends on Tuesday, December 12. To learn more about other heroes, click here.