Sarah Benimana and Rachel Nikuze, former students of Gashora Girls Academy, have put what they learnt in Science class into practice: create a soap that acts as a mosquito repellent.
Benimana and Nikuze picked interest in soap making after learning about saponification in a Chemistry lesson while in Senior Five.
Saponification is a reaction process where potassium salts come into contact with fatty acids that create soap.
The duo, now in Senior Six vacation, offered Physics, Chemistry and Biology (PCB) at Gashora Girls Academy in Bugesera District.
They say they were motivated by the need to mitigate the threats of mosquitoes (in causing malaria) as well as the need to contribute to Made-in-Rwanda campaign.
Benimana said studying Science went beyond reading theories but thinking more of how to make it more practical in society.
“We became confident to go into production after we had tested the process and made soap. After further research, we thought of how we could make it practical in everyday life,” Benimana said.
The duo also pursued more actions, including using scientific techniques to purify the water they used at school since it was dirty.
“Our school was also a haven of mosquitoes from the surrounding bushes. But we noticed that the mosquitoes never went close to the eucalyptus trees around the school,” they said.
“That is when we came up with the idea of mixing the leaves from the tree with our liquid soap.”
The project was successful and the issue was solved.
The perfumed liquid soap is used to wash the body and its strong smell keeps mosquitoes away.
Now they plan to make a solid soap as well as find a way to make it possible to spray the liquid soap in houses.
Benimana and Nikuze plan to take the product to Rwanda Standards Board for certification.
Financial support is still a challenge as well as well as availability of basic materials, and they have to resort to using their pocket money.
They are confident that, with financial support, the whole community would benefit from their project.
“We want to expand our project to ensure that every Rwandan benefits from it,” they said.
They are now seeking closer partnership with the Ministry of Health as they are confident that mosquito repellent soaps are more effective than mosquito nets.