Support the SOL Foundation in Roatan to Help Kids Learn, Play, & Grow

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“Galletas! It’s time to make galletas!” And so the excitement and energy escalate as the kids rush around the Learning and Community Center of Sandy Bay on the island of Roatan.

First, they wash their hands, having been taught the importance of good hygiene and encouraged to practice good habits. And then they take their positions in the preparation area.

Some help carry ingredients from the kitchen while others eagerly await instructions. “Huevos! We need huevos! Oh – and the M&Ms are in the freezer.”

Spanglish is the language of the island, having been colonized by both the English and Spanish over the centuries, and now belonging to Honduras with strong English roots deeply embedded. Not to mention the many foreigners living here as expats.

And so the kids speak some of this and some of that, learning each through formal schooling and life experience.

The benefits of being bilingual will surely elude them for years to come, probably until they seek their first jobs and realize how helpful it is to be able to communicate with diverse groups of people. 

Helping these kids build strong foundations toward those first jobs is a core goal at the SOL Foundation, which is one of my absolute favorite community-driven organizations in Roatan.

The Havey Learning Center SOL Foundation Roatan Honduras

The Learning and Community Center of Sandy Bay

In this Learning and Community Center, the kids are free to play, create, and learn.

They participate in activities like the Happy Tummies & Jr. Chef program where they learn about healthy eating. They also get to practice making their own healthy meals…plus the occasional fun snack, like today’s cookie day!

It is, after all, their school vacation.

They also have board games aplenty, which they rapidly take out, play, and then replace depending on who joins in on the fun and who wanders off for something more entertaining.

They run around in the garden area, where tires can be moved about to create new games all day long.

One minute they’re lined up to create a fun crawling space. The next, they’re laid down for jumping games and challenges.

Kids can create and invent so much more when given the space and encouragement to do so.

Kids cooking program at the Havey Learning Center SOL Foundation Roatan Honduras

Learning and Growing Together

Beyond play and eating well, these kids have space for formal learning. They enjoy language lessons and listening to visiting specialists who speak about conservation, marine sciences, and more.

The importance of mangroves for healthy oceans was explored first-hand by investigating the mangroves across the street.

The kids learned how damaging the plastic problem is by collecting plastic bottles and other small plastic debris to make eco-bricks.

Ecobrick plastic bottle Havey Learning Center SOL Foundation Roatan Honduras

And then they built the walls of their own garden play space with these plastic eco-bricks. That showed them just how much plastic is out there and how it never goes away. 

Beyond their wall of eco-bricks, the building is run on solar power and has a biodigester septic system, so everything goes into a holding area that gets aerated.

They’re doing their best to minimize their negative impact on the local environment and infrastructure while teaching the kids how vital these efforts are for the future.

Ecobricks garden wall at the Havey Learning Center SOL Foundation Roatan Honduras

It Takes a Village

The Learning and Community Center in Sandy Bay, Roatan, is a place of safety, compassion, encouragement, and potential. The saying “It takes a village to raise a child” carries extra weight here.

These kids are surrounded by adults who love them and believe in their future success. From locals to expats to visiting volunteers, there are always positive influences at the ready to help this community to thrive. 

I spent a mere hour at the Center, but I’ve been tangentially involved with the SOL Foundation for years now. My visit included a tour around the grounds and learning about the many donations received to make this space what it is today.

The internal doors and windows that have created office spaces and conference rooms were donated before a house was going to be razed for a new build.

The tires were donated by a local shop and the ping pong table no longer folded up so a cruise ship donated it.

The massive fridge/freezer was donated by a vacation rental when they couldn’t wait for a necessary repair so it just got replaced.

Someone’s old dining room table now has a protective top and is used for arts and crafts – as is evidenced by the colorful array of paint splashes all over it.

Funds requested as a wedding gift were donated to build beautiful big picnic tables for board game playing and socializing. 

Everything has come from somewhere and someone who wants to help create a space for kids to gather and grow together.

The very essence of this Community Center is filled with the love and devotion of countless individuals and an endless outpouring of support. And it’s all spearheaded by the School of Life (SOL) International Foundation.

Sign at the Havey Learning Center SOL Foundation Roatan Honduras

About the SOL Foundation

The SOL Foundation has been doing amazing work in Roatan for more than 15 years now. Regular fundraisers include sporting events, raffles, the Music Festival for the Angels, and the Golden Buoy Dive Shop Olympics. And those funds raised go toward a litany of incredible programs.

The primary focus of SOL is to provide scholarships to local kids so they can go to private schools on the island. These scholarships are offered according to need, family support, and potential for success.

They might be complete scholarships, providing everything from a uniform to transportation to snacks to school supplies. Or the scholarship might only cover one component as needed.

What SOL aims to do is to help a child from kindergarten through high school, every year, for as much or as little as is necessary to ensure that child’s success.

Success doesn’t mean perfect grades or being university-bound. But it does mean that a child is provided with all the necessary support to ensure he or she can focus on school and learning. It means a child needn’t worry about the money to pay for a bus or hunger pains from not having had a meal all day.

In their 2023 recap, the SOL Foundation announced that five of their scholarship students had graduated in the past year. SOL also supported their student-athletes to travel to games and tournaments across the nation and even internationally.

With additional financial support from folks who love Roatan from afar, imagine what this incredible organization could do!

Classroom in the Havey Learning Center SOL Foundation Roatan Honduras

How You Can Help Kids in Roatan

There are so many ways you can help these kids with a brighter future and more opportunities. Whether you’re living on the island, visiting, or just at home reading this and thinking it would be nice to help.

Top Priority: Sponsorship for Students

If you’re interested in supporting the SOL Foundation, their biggest need is sponsorship for these scholarships. They ask a sponsor to take on the annual expenses of a child through monthly payments.

These often range between $100-450 per month, depending on how much financial support a child requires. Becoming a sponsor means committing to the duration of that child’s education.

The SOL Foundation isn’t going to fix the whole education system in Honduras. But what they can do for these kids is offer them a good education, starting them young and supporting them every step of the way.

The sponsorship funds could cover transportation costs to and from school. Or they could cover snacks and lunches, uniforms, supplies, and more.

Knowing that a sponsor is there to support a child every year allows SOL to focus on supporting that child on the ground. It removes the burden of constantly raising more funds. And it eliminates the risk of having to drop a scholarship and send that child back to public schools.

For reference, schooling is only required up to sixth grade in Honduras. Public schools on the island suffer from a lack of resources and support. Additionally, all public schools teach entirely in Spanish. That means children don’t learn to read or write in English, putting them at a distinct disadvantage for employment.

The private schools on Roatan are bilingual and provide more opportunities for students who wish to study at a college or trade school. They also offer a more comparable North American level of education over the years.

Set Up General Monthly Donations

If you can’t commit to a full sponsorship, you can still set up monthly donations to SOL. Whatever you can afford, just set it and forget it.

Except (I’ll warn you from personal experience), you won’t forget it. You’ll receive regular updates on what the kids are doing and what the foundation is up to.

You might even receive an occasional video update that will make you want to drop everything and grab the first flight back to the island!

You can donate via direct deposit, PayPal, or Network for Good.

Bring (or Buy) In-Kind Donations When Visiting Roatan

Other ways you can help support SOL’s work include bringing in-kind donations whenever you visit the island. Some popular needs include classic board games like UNO or Monopoly, sports gear and equipment, or school and arts & crafts supplies.

If you want to donate school or arts & crafts supplies, you can actually purchase most of those on the island, which saves you from packing and paying for extra baggage en route, while also supporting local businesses on the island.

If you want to bring donations from home, Chromebooks are always useful. This was true before the pandemic but virtual classrooms have made these ever more vital.

The Chromebooks stay at the Learning and Community Center where kids can do their homework and study.

Check out their latest Wish List requests if your trip is coming up soon!

SOL can provide you with a letter for going through customs; just get in touch.

Wish list for SOL Foundation in Roatan

Offer Your Time and/or Expertise

If you’re visiting Roatan soon, find out their current needs and bring or buy in-kind donations. Tourists are also welcome to visit the Center to read to the kids, play, or offer whatever expertise you may have!

If you want to donate your time or expertise, reach out to SOL directly. Volunteers are always welcome to help out during cooking sessions or arts & crafts days. And getting the kids to run around and play sports or games is always encouraged!

If you have a skill you’d like to share via a classroom session, you can teach language or science or whatever it is you know best. There is always room for more learning!

Support Annual SOL Foundation Fundraisers

Throughout the year, the SOL Foundation hosts annual fundraisers that include the following:

At the very least: Like, Share, & Spread the Word!

If you cannot financially support the efforts of the SOL Foundation and you won’t be in Roatan in person to offer your time or expertise, you can still help. Every time you like and share their social media posts, more people see their work. If you spread the word, that alone is a huge help.

It takes no time, no money, and the most minimal effort…but it can make a difference in these kids’ lives.

If you have any questions about the SOL Foundation or the Learning and Community Center in Sandy Bay, get in touch with them.

However and whenever you can, giving back to communities where you spend time is so very helpful. Whether that’s a community you visit on vacation or your own backyard.

I learned as a child to “look for the helpers” and there are no greater helpers than those who live in and love their communities enough to do the work day in and day out to improve conditions.

Look for the helpers at home, and then you’ll surely recognize the right kinds of helpers everywhere you go.

The SOL Foundation in Roatan is an ideal example to uplift. I hope you’ll support their efforts from both near and far.

Follow the SOL Foundation and spread the word:

Classroom in the Havey Learning Center SOL Foundation Roatan Honduras

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