Why and How We Do What We Do
Since SOL first began its work in Central America, 20 years ago, we have been very careful to approach our work with humility and respect. We do not approach our role in aiding communities in their development as knowing what is best for them. Nor do we facilitate other outsiders to determine what is best for a community either. Instead, once we are invited by a community member or group of members to aid them in a particular area, we ask for a written letter of solicitation, outlining the request for a school repair, construction or other educationally focused project or program. Then, as a way to further establish a relationship of trust and respect, we hold a series of community meetings during which we visit the community to explain further about who we are, what we do and how we work.
During these community encounters we attempt to learn more about the community's needs and aspirations, and also to spend time with the teachers, students, parents, and all members who are interested in working towards commonly defined goals. We let the community know that if the proposed project is approved we are then able to work alongside of them to help procure the necessary resources to realize the project, but that their involvement, commitment and leadership in this process is what will guarantee its success. We feel strongly that a community's investment in as many aspects of the project as possible is vital to its immediate success as well as its longer term impacts on the community's development process.
Once SOL has determined that it is capable and committed to working with a community and that the community has sufficiently demonstrated their commitment to partnering with SOL for the development of the project, we discuss the possible involvement of international work group volunteers during the development of the project. Thru the 1 - 2 weeks visits of the groups in our Work Group Program to Nicaragua and/or El Salvador we provide the opportunity for them to learn about and work alongside the communities with which we are partnering.
We strongly believe in the integrity of the community develop process by which we work, and are careful not to be divisive in a community, through individual rewarding or by creating false expectations. We look forward to sharing and demonstrating our apporach to working together with you.