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The Healing Hands Of Viola Davis, Vaseline & Direct Relief


There is no doubt that Vaseline is my favorite skin care product in the world.  It is to me what Windex was to Gus Portokalos in “My Big Fat Greek Wedding”.  I kid you not.  Ask anyone who knows me to verify. They will tell you along with a few comments regarding my soft skin, seemingly 'ageless' feet, and my lack of stretch marks...even after giving birth to five kids. Vaseline has been my miracle cure for just about every skin care dilemma and its obvious benefits have not been lost on my teenage daughters, either, who have begun integrating Vaseline into their own adult lives as well.


‘Affordable relief’ in a jar for all seasons and all people, my personal use of Vaseline barely scratches the surface of the value it brings to communities across the globe, especially when placed in the hands of the medical professionals at Direct Relief.  The joint initiative between Direct Relief and Vaseline, known as The Vaseline Healing Project, has helped to comfort and cure close to two million individuals to-date and “they’ve only just begun” by the looks of it. As has Viola Davis who has joined the project as its spokesperson, bringing much needed attention to the harsh realities of countries where proper skin care means the difference between life and death.


Yes, the inspirational story underlying the launch of The Vaseline Healing Project is highly unique, but no less unique than the very people who refused to allow the suffering of others to go unnoticed or unheard. I urge you to read the interview below to learn more. It will remind you how miraculous and life-saving simple acts of caring and good intention can be.  


Please provide your name, title, and background with Direct Relief.

Tony Morain, Communications Director, Direct Relief


Explain who Direct Relief is, including the origin, goals and size of the organization.

Founded in 1948 by WWII refugees, Direct Relief is a California-based nonprofit organization with a simple mission: improve the health and lives of people affected by poverty or emergencies -- without regard to politics, religious beliefs, or ethnic identities. Now the ninth largest U.S. charity, according to Forbes Magazine, Direct Relief conducts the most expansive charitable medicines program in the United States and is among the largest private providers globally of humanitarian medical material aid.


Direct Relief earns consistently high ratings from nonprofit evaluators, including 100 percent efficiency ratings from both Charity Navigator and Forbes Magazine. Direct Relief also was named among the world’s most innovative nonprofits by Fast Company and has been recognized with the Esri President’s Award for Excellence in GIS, the Peter F. Drucker Award for Nonprofit Innovation, and the CECP Directors’ Award.


Please provide background on Vaseline, including parent company and any additional relevant information.

In 1874, a mere four years after its founding in Brooklyn, NY in 1870, Vaseline® Jelly was being sold across the U.S. at the rate of a jar a minute. New mothers used it for their babies’ diaper rash, while professionals working in extreme cold weather used it to relieve dry, chapped skin. Vaseline® Jelly even played a role on what is thought to be the first successful expedition to the North Pole. The explorer Commander Robert Peary took a jar with him to keep his skin safe and healed because he knew Vaseline® Jelly wouldn’t freeze.


Vaseline’s storied history carried into the next century as well. During WWl, Vaseline® Jelly brought relief to U.S. soldiers in the trenches by treating cuts and bruises, and to ease sunburn. Medical officers reported carrying tubes of Vaseline® Jelly with them to treat minor cuts or burns on their patients. During WWll, The Surgeon General of the U.S. Military commissioned a sterile Vaseline® Jelly coated gauze to send to the front. By 1987, its line of Vaseline® products had grown to include moisturizing products like lip care products and lotions relied on to heal dry skin across the globe from Miami to Moscow, Melbourne to Mumbai.


Explain the origin of The Vaseline Healing Project, including how it began and Direct Relief's participation.

In June 2014, the Washington Post published an article from two dermatologists who had recently returned from a medical mission to a Syrian Refugee camp in Jordan.


“Leaving our own thriving practices to work in crowded, dusty refugee camps in another part of the world, we were reminded that sometimes simple measures, like compassion and listening are what is most vital to a human being; and that sometimes basic, inexpensive remedies, like Vaseline, are good enough.”


Employees from Vaseline read the article and were inspired. They reached out to the dermatologists and enlisted them as advisors in addressing the under-treated global health issue of skin care. This initial endeavor served as the foundation for The Vaseline Healing Project, a worldwide initiative with Direct Relief to get skin care services and products to people displaced by natural disasters or humanitarian crises. It’s goal is to heal the skin of 5 million people by 2020.


How has the project grown and helped since its launch?

In 2015, Vaseline donated 1 million jars of its product worldwide through Direct Relief and sponsored dermatological missions to Kenya, the Philippines, and Jordan. This year, the company has delivered skin care products and services to more than 30 countries including the U.S.


Please estimate how many people it has helped and in which countries and share.

1,700,000 people reached to date. A full list of countries with stories is available here


Why was Viola Davis chosen to become the spokesperson for the project?

Watch as Viola Davis explains her reasons for joining the project.


Share "next steps" for The Vaseline Healing Project.

In the coming months, The Vaseline Healing Project will expand the number of medical missions to reach more people. Also, in partnership with a medical advisory board of dermatology experts, The Vaseline Healing Project will sponsor and release an international training curriculum for doctors and nurses in the developing world to diagnose and treat skin conditions.  


How can "we" help?

Visit The Vaseline Healing Project here, which features a kit builder that helps raise funds for people in need. People can also help by spreading the word.


No doubt, upon learning about The Vaseline Healing Project, my life-long love for Vaseline grew ten-fold.  Imagine the global impact if yours did too. Think about it the next time you’re perusing your pharmacy’s shelves in search of a solution for peeling, sunburned skin or dry, chapped lips.  Your summer’s calamities might just be the catalyst to solving this planet's suffering….one jar, one spray or one tube at a time.  It's called making "lemonade out of lemons"or in this case "happy lives out of the healing properties of Vaseline!"

Many thanks to Tony Morain, Communications Director, Direct Relief for making this interview possible

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