Fulbrighters Join Forces to Manufacture Hand Sanitizer During COVID-19 Pandemic

When COVID-19 started to spread across the United States, everyone in the pharmaceutical science program at Butler University felt the need to use our resources and experience to help our community. One of our American classmates, Victor, was concerned about the lack of hand sanitizer. After telling us about these concerns, we created a task force of four graduate students and two advisors dedicated to working to solve this problem.

In the beginning, we used teleconferencing to outline the project goals and determine the necessary experimental procedures to manufacture the hand sanitizer. Because the primary goal of the project was to produce quality sanitizer while keeping costs low, we agreed to use a simple and efficient formula recommended by the World Health Organization. Next, we contacted regulatory authorities to approve our work, companies to provide raw materials, and the university for funding and permission to use the lab. Our priority was to make sure that we followed all guidelines and protocols accurately in order to obtain safe results.

Fouad (right) and Mohammed (second to right) with other members of the task force.

Throughout the project, we utilized our pharmaceutical experience to make necessary measurements, mix the components of the sanitizer, and fill the bottles. Mohammed was also able to create a new filling method that would shorten the time we needed to be in person in a lab. In the end, we managed to produce 50 liters of hand sanitizer. The total amount was divided in half and donated to Wheeler Mission Ministries, a local homeless shelter, and the Julian Center for Domestic Abuse Survivors. Both centers were excited and grateful for the gift.

Fouad producing batches of sanitizer in the lab.

This project gave us an opportunity to use our Fulbright-gained skills to help the community we live in. For us, we learned that truly knowing our community is not just about sightseeing and trying local food, but instead, it’s about knowing the struggles we are each going through and tackling them together. When we saw the dedication and selflessness of the personnel at the Wheeler Mission and Julian Center committed to serving our community, we knew we had to help.

During this global health crisis, community engagement, experience, and knowledge exchange are needed in order to protect ourselves from the virus. By working together, we were able to complete the project successfully and share our experience and knowledge. It also helped us to get to know each other better and even after our collaboration, our friendship will ultimately lead to lasting connections.

Mohammed and Fouad working together.

The diversity of our project team aligns perfectly with what Fulbright is all about; the six members of our task force speak four different languages, embrace four different religions, and have five different cultural backgrounds. Exposure to such diversity helped us understand ourselves and others and added to our overall growth.

We believe that the Fulbright experience should go far beyond just academics. This project gave us the opportunity to know more about the community we live in while also lending a helping hand. We are thankful to Butler University for allowing us to utilize knowledge we’ve learned both in our previous work experience and during our master’s programs, while creating lasting connections and making meaningful contributions in our community.

Fouad is a Fulbright student from the West Bank. Mohammed is a Fulbright student from Egypt. They both study Pharmaceutical Sciences at Butler University.

You can find more information about the Fulbright Program, Fulbright Foreign Student Program, and the Fulbright Program for the Middle East and North Africa on our websites. To learn more about other Fulbrighters, follow us on Facebook, Twitter, and visit our blog.

Fulbright Foreign Student Program in MENA blog. Sponsored by U.S. Dept of State. https://www.amideast.org/our-work/find-a-scholarship/graduate-study/fulbright