Last August 25, 2016 at around 9:00AM, Virlanie Foundation had 15 Sofitel volunteers and more than 25 young adults gathered in the living room area of Ella Yallah Home, where a projector and screen were set up, and monoblock chairs were placed for everybody’s convenience. The introduction to their Soap-Making activity was starting. Sealed Air, Sofitel’s supplier for housekeeping chemicals, sent a representative to talk about the advantage of recycling used soap boars, and the importance of proper hand-washing in order to avoid potentially fatal diseases like pneumonia.

After the introduction, a demo on how to sterilize used soap bars occurred, including how to repurpose and repackage them for selling. Transfixed, the young adults (and even the volunteers from Sofitel) were amazed by how something that was considered as “waste” could now be so useful and income-generating. This activity offers longevity and better use to the used soaps, which is in line AccorHotels’ sustainable development program, Planet 21. One soap-making machine was available, and both volunteers and Virlanie kids were excited to get their hands busy and try it themselves.

While they continued making soap, we have the pleasure of introducing you to some of the volunteers of Sofitel Manila, passionate people who work full-time with the hotel, but through a partnership with Virlanie, have chosen to allocate their working hours to spend time with the children and to transfer skills that they can use even after their stay in the Foundation.

Mr. Ralph Robles and Ms. Mona Lisa Barbeyto are from the Human Resources Department and Housekeeping Department respectively. According to Ms. Mona Lisa, a lot of staff members from the Housekeeping Department worked hand-in-hand in order to see this outreach possible.


“We have the resources, and so we wanted to come up with a sustainable program, and it was made so much easier because we already have an ongoing partnership with Virlanie Foundation,” she explains. “Sofitel has 609 rooms, so you can imagine how many used bars of soap we have in excess. And how great was it to know that there are ways to make sure that nothing goes to waste, and still be able to help others? We wanted to donate the machine and the knowledge to these children, so they can still use it in the future and create an ecosystem of sustainability.”

“It was a lot of fun for us, too. The activity wasn’t boring, and we were able to maximize our time,” shared Mr. Ralph, looking a little thoughtful. “I think we’re learning also what more we can do as a hotel. After this activity, I’m thinking that other departments would really want to explore the benefits of upcycling! It’s fun, and we’re all very proud to be doing this. We love giving time to the Foundation.”

We believe that both foreign and local volunteers play an important role in giving a greater perspective to our young adults, and how they can strive to become independent in the future. By showing them various ways on how to be resourceful, we know that our young adults from the ILP program are learning the valuable lesson that creating opportunities and being resourceful on their own is possible.

Independent Living Program aims to empower and support young adults to become self-sustaining and independent individuals. AccorHotels employees’ involvement in favor of Virlanie’s activities is strong and linked with a variety of areas wherein help is needed most. Solidarity AccorHotels, endowment fund of the Group, supports more specifically the professional integration activities of Virlanie’s Independent Living Program (ILP), where fifty (50) young adults are being accompanied towards the road to complete independence.