The skin may be the largest organ of the human body but for most of the urban poor, skin health treatments may not be high on their list of priorities. This is something that the Vaseline Healing Project hopes to gradually change.
The Healing Project kicked off globally in 2014. During the initial stage, it focused mainly on health needs, including that of skin, in communities stricken with disaster where basic necessities such as food, water and shelter were the main aids provided. “Skin health is so often neglected and if not taken care of, can lead to many other health issues. As Vaseline is a very unique product that restores skin health, and considering the Unilever Sustainable Living Plan, this project is apt,” explains Vincent Chong, marketing director of Unilever (M) Holdings Sdn Bhd.
“Unilever’s underlying principles or four pillars include helping people globally in terms of health and well-being — this is very important to us. Also, to improve the livelihood of people, and to focus on environmental issues. Each brand has a certain purpose which is married with that of other brands [to meet these principles]. In the case of Vaseline, it is skin health,” Chong says, explaining why the Healing Project was chosen to propound the brand’s purpose.
In Malaysia, the inaugural Healing Project took place in the middle of last year and saw the first collaboration between Unilever and Hope Worldwide Malaysia. “Interestingly, when we finally had the chance to work together, we found that we had a common purpose and a common platform on which we could serve the community,” says Darick Wong, country director of Hope Worldwide Malaysia, referring to the non-governmental organisation’s free clinic programme that operates in Sentul and Penang.
The international organisation runs 150 programmes, with a presence in six continents and 100 nations. Its focus areas encompass children, education, health, senior citizens, employment and volunteerism.
RM1 from each sale of a Vaseline product (up to a maximum pledge of RM200,000) will be channelled to the Healing Project, which will run throughout the year in the form of free mobile clinics offered by Hope Worldwide. Vaseline has also pledged to donate RM150,000 in cash and RM50,000 worth of products to support the campaign.
The mobile clinics came about from combining the expertise of both partners — Vaseline’s tried and tested benefits to skin health, and Hope Worldwide’s experience and knowledge-gathering from serving the underprivileged community.
“Just as Vaseline knows its products very well, we know our community,” Wong says, adding that Hope Worldwide has been serving those in need for 19 years. Throughout the duration of this project, he says he has met a number of patients with skin problems who have benefited from the use of Vaseline, coupled with other medical treatments.
While the target group for the project is the urban poor, the mobile clinics will nevertheless serve any other deserving individuals in need. “We will not challenge their identity. Being an international organisation, one of the things we uphold is our humanitarian acts,” Wong explains. He also assures that the efforts made to reach out to those in need will continue after the end of the project, in the furtherance of the organisation’s mission.
From Unilever’s perspective, “the core message is to bring healing to the communities through basic medical and dermatological care”, Chong explains. The global target is to reach five million vulnerable people affected by poverty or emergencies by 2020 and to date, the number stands at 2,587,888.
“This collaboration enables us to help the underserved communities regain healthy skin, alongside our other initiatives. It’s amazing how good skin health can make a difference to one’s confidence to step into life, and we want to see more moments like this within our network across the country,” Wong says, summing up the benefits of the Healing Project.
This article first appeared on Sept 10, 2018 in The Edge Malaysia.