At SOS, we believe that Education is a right and an antidote to poverty
A holistic educational structure needs the appropriate infrastructure, community support, materials, trained and supported teachers, sanitation and recreation facilities, and much much more. At SOS, we work with 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.
Outreach Trip volunteers working with the women’s community group in Los Jazmines, Costa Rica
Our values have connected us to our partnering organizations, to our SOS volunteers across Canada, and to our host communities and they continue to be our guiding light. They inform our decision making and keep us centered when presented with a new challenge.
1. Another World is Possible
We’re grounded in a commitment to social justice, equality, and global citizenship. We aim to support long-lasting solutions that get to the roots of the social challenges we focus on.
2. Getting Things Done
With passion comes responsibility. We’re committed to following through on our word and improving our performance over time.
3. We’re Better Together
It takes a giant, diverse community of people to make SOS work. We look to create fun and inclusive environments, built on the vibrant exchange of perspectives.
4. Lifelong Learning
We know the SOS experience is part of a broader personal journey. We seek to nurture wellness while enabling opportunities to continually learn and grow.
To us, holistic education means much more than sporadically building schools where it suits us and our volunteers. 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 recognize 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 programs and 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. With the help of our partners, we seek out regions that currently run classes but lack aspects of the 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.
Why Outreach Trips?
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.
These trips contribute to the production of a generation of active and aware citizens that are able to think and relate to what is outside their immediate world. We believe equipping students with this experience will allow them to make positive actions for change, regardless of their career or occupation.