Inmates in Cameroon Set to “earn living with dignity” from Salesian Soap-making Initiative

Ebolowa prison prisoners learn how to make liquid soap thanks to Don Bosco and the Salesians. Credit: Salesian Missions

Inmates at Ebolowa prison in Cameroon are set to “earn a living with dignity” beyond their prison sentence thanks to the soap-making training that members of the Religious Institute of the Salesians of Don Bosco (SDB) have realized.

In a report published Thursday, September 29, Fr. Artur Bartol, the Chaplain at the Cameroonian prison who “recently taught the prisoners how to make liquid soap so that they can earn a living when they are released” says that the inmates “live in overcrowded conditions and receive little food or attention from the authorities.”

“The prisoners learn how to make soap so that after they serve their time, they can produce it for sale and earn a living with dignity,” Fr. Bartol is quoted as saying in the Salesian Missions’ report, the U.S.-based SDB development arm.

The Salesian Priest speaks to the dynamics of the initiative, saying, “We organized not only courses for soap-making, but also for learning to read and write because not everyone was able to do that. And during vacation periods or holidays we also set up sports tournaments.”

According to the officials of the Salesian Missions, the Polish Salesian missionary involved in the initiative with the inmates started by teaching the beneficiaries how to make soap powder and then liquid soap.


“He enlisted the help of soap-making professionals to organize a comprehensive course inside the prison. The course first explains the theoretical part of making soap and then there is a practical workshop to learn by hands-on training,” SDB officials say.

They add, “Students are given notebooks to write down the proportions and how many scoops or caps were needed to make the soap. They can refer back to this when they are in the workshop.”

The Salesian Missions officials further say that in the implementation of the initiative with inmates, “the finished products are packaged in containers and sold with stickers that read, ‘Soap produced in Ebolowa Prison under the direction of Don Bosco.’”

Inmates at the Ebolowa prison “have been convicted of various crimes and live in very difficult conditions,” the September 29 report indicates, and adds in reference to the inmates, “Fr. Bartol does not judge them for their actions but rather helps them spiritually and prepares them in the hopes that they can turn their lives around.”

Making reference to a March 2018 World Food Program (WFP) report, Salesian Missions officials say that “more than 30 percent of Cameroon’s population lives below the poverty line and human development indicators remain low.”

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They explain, “Poverty is the highest in the Far North, North, Adamaoua and East regions. In northern regions, people are often affected by natural disasters and below-average harvests which contribute to a continuing cycle of poverty and hunger.”

As part of the efforts to address the high levels of poverty in Cameroon, the September 29 report indicates that “Salesian missionaries in the country provide education and social development services to poor youth so they are able to gain the training needed to find and retain long-term employment. They in turn are able to give back to their families and communities.”

Silas Mwale Isenjia is a Kenyan journalist with a great zeal and interest for Catholic Church related communication. He holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Linguistics, Media and Communication from Moi University in Kenya. Silas has vast experience in the Media production industry. He currently works as a Journalist for ACI Africa.