Social Construction Accounts for Unmet Basic Human Needs
In building projects, architects along with those interested in general construction have a massive opportunity to serve others. Often times, this involves lifting those who are asking for aid out of what can look and feel like hopeless situations. We can’t control for natural disasters, only react and regroup after they pass. When ones home, community, or school is destroyed, who can they turn to in an attempt to continue living, learning, and prospering?
That’s where you come in. You know you want to volunteer, but you aren’t sure of the most efficient way to impact the world today. What should you spend your time doing to most efficiently give back in the greatest capacity you can? We believe that social construction is the field that cuts right to the core of what humans must have in order to survive. The basic necessities of life are the physiological needs of air, water, food, shelter, sanitation, touch, sleep, and personal space. Through building projects, we can directly influence many of these through providing a place to grow ones family, giving shelter and warmth, along with fundamental things like living in a clean prospering community.
With humanitarian design and social projects, we can use innovation to aid people needing these most basic things necessary to live. One of the reasons working to provide a community with new schools, homes, hospitals, or orphanages is so satisfying is that you come to see your direct impact on all. Everything you do is visible and you can witness the ripple effect as building a home or school goes so much farther than erecting a structure to be used by other people. It becomes an action of synergy that creates growth and opportunity for others in the present and over time. Providing education lifts up the entire community in more ways than you can count. New homes allow families to focus on work, child upbringing, and other important aspects of life.
It seems simple to help construct a physical building, but you are creating an ongoing cycle of positive change whether that be in education, medical, or the entire well-being of the area you are working in. Everything, even up to the smallest action like increasing privacy for refugees, can lift spirits and be just as important as the larger, more complex issues being solved. Anything that alleviates the suffering of others by restoring their basic human rights is vital to building projects around the globe.
Three Key Areas of Social Construction
Three of the main sections of construction volunteering fall into the categories of housing, schools, and disaster relief. These areas are where communities need the most help to continue growing and living a life beyond worrying about basic necessities.
Maybe the biggest humanitarian challenge we see facing the world today is the provision of shelter to those without it. According to Journalist Elisabeth Fischer who focuses on Humanitarian Architecture:
“The United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) reports that one in seven people live in slums or refugee camp, while more than three billion people do not have access to clean water or adequate sanitation. In the hope of finding better social and economic opportunities, many people migrate to cities and often end up in shanty towns and ghettos.”
Quality housing cannot be dismissed when trying to achieve a high quality of life. Not having a basic home affects all areas of ones day from basic hygiene to cooking and safety. Having a simple yet functional place to live relieves families of the mental burden that comes with finding shelter, allowing them to focus on other important tasks in their lives. This is one of the most influential projects a volunteer can sign up for as it is grouped in among the most basic needs like food and water. Simply put, homes are important to every aspect of ones day.
Disaster relief always requires immediate action and innovation as execution must be quick and started without all desired resources. We will never be able to hit the problem head on before it occurs so it’s important to be ready after the fact. With willing volunteers, we can help provide longer-term relief solutions as initial aid goes and temporary solutions begin to lose effectiveness.
With a natural disaster comes shock, hopelessness, and often a full dependence on others. With no home, community, or place to go, nothing is more important than brining a routine and safety back to these people’s lives. It’s important to recognize that each situation is unique and different but a quick effective response is critical.
Schools are a necessity to ensure future success to a community. If an area doesn’t have a school that provides both a safe and clean area for students to learn and teachers to teach, the entire community will suffer. As a student spends the majority of their hours everyday sharing a main building, it’s paramount that they be provided with a place allowing them to focus on learning. Working to build or refurbish a community’s school is a way to not only impact one family but literally hundreds of people in just a few years.
In the end, as an architect or even those interested in creating an effective change, you can make an impact directly. These are things that can’t be done over the internet. It’s not donating money or a hand-out. It’s a hand up to get people back to a baseline comfort where they can prosper.
Build Abroad’s Construction Projects
This is why here at Build Abroad, we completely focus on construction volunteering as it truly is the best way to give back to a community. Our construction projects provide a physical impact in a community that will last for years. Over a month of volunteering, a team of volunteers can construct a school that will serve an entire generation of students. Likewise, in just a couple weeks a team of volunteers can turn a piece of land into a home for a needy family. Our building projects vary at each of our locations because each community has their own unique needs. Where as a community in Cusco, Peru might benefit from a new classroom, another village in Guatemala may be in dire need of a public toilet facility. We partner with community-based NGO’s to develop infrastructure and we recruit professional volunteers to manage these projects. These volunteers train and employ local workers and source local materials, allowing for significant investment in the regional economy. We provide pro-bono design and comprehensive project management through our network of expert volunteers and Change Fellows. The resulting strong, sustainable, environmentally sound facilities help to break the cycle of poverty