At SOS, we believe that Education is a right and an antidote to poverty
A holistic educational structure includes the appropriate infrastructure, community support, school supplies, trained and supported teachers, sanitation and recreation facilities, and much much more. At SOS, we work with non profit organizations and communities in Central and South America to make this right a reality.
We bring Canadian students and Latin America partners together through annual Outreach Trips, facilitated by our partnering organizations. On Outreach Trips, SOS volunteers travel to communities in Latin America that have identified an education based need that SOS contributes to with human and financial capital.
What is “Holistic” Education?
To us, holistic education means much more than sporadically building schools where we think they should be. It means taking a sustained interest in communities, especially since building schools does not itself grant education.
Our experience has revealed a multiplicity of secondary questions that must be addressed. Some continue to be related to infrastructure: Where does the teacher live? How do students get to school? What obstacles do they face getting to school? What resources are available to the students outside the classroom? Other questions relate to incentives and barriers to education: Why don’t students attend class? How is lost income from turning laborers into students addressed? How do we facilitate the transition between international help and government help? How do we support the creation of sustainable projects and communities?
We known that our host communities and partnering organizations are best suited to answer these questions, not us. They will be ones effected on a day by day basis by our projects, and they have the lived experience to tell us what will and will not work.
It is of utmost importance to us that communities show an interest and commitment to education prior to our involvement. We seek out regions that currently run classes but lack aspects of supportive infrastructure. We also seek out regions that make efforts in education development, but have their efforts stunted through distance, natural disaster, or economic reasons which make gaining access to a quality education impossible.
The proposed projects, whether classrooms, kitchens, latrines, or others, are proposed by the community in which the project will be built. The community is aided by SOS’s partner, a local non-governmental organization (NGO).
Our partnering organization then proposes the idea to SOS. They research vendors for building supplies, coordinate safety and logistics for SOS volunteers, and work with the community to ensure they’re ready to receive and maintain the project.
Once approved by SOS, our volunteers across university campuses get to work! They spend 8 months fundraising the ENTIRE cost of the project at universities across Canada. Read more about our nation wide organization here!
Once the funds are raised it is time to make the project come to life. Students from across Canada volunteer in host communities for 2 weeks and build the project brick by brick. Groups of 10 to 15 volunteers typically work 6 to 8 hours a day with evenings and some weekends reserved for rest. During the Outreach Trip, community members and volunteers get to know one another, whether during construction, meal times, or downtime.
To us, the development process is about more than simply transferring funds from North America to Latin America. We believe the personal investment keeps this process human, relatable, and sustainable. We work with hundreds of students across Canada who are eager to learn, share, and explore the world. Outreach Trips channel that energy into constructive projects that enrich the experience and knowledge of our volunteers and host communities.