Solidarity Engineering is a humanitarian response organization currently based at the US-Mexico border. Our mission is to reduce human suffering by applying community-driven engineering in places where existing systems have failed.
Inherent in our work is the recognition that humanitarian crises are products of complex global relations, historic power imbalances, and environmental injustices. Thus, our organization is built on three main pillars: working in solidarity with communities, working in accordance with the four humanitarian principles, and applying a holistic public health approach.
Recognizing the equal humanity amongst all groups, Solidarity is committed to promoting human rights and dignity with the people themselves. Community members are given the means to determine their own needs, and how and when services are provided. We believe in a mutual responsibility to better conditions and any project completed without direct and continuous integration of the community is inappropriate, unethical, and potentially harmful.
Our model includes: working hand in hand with community members, providing volunteer stipends to community members who work with us, holding community meetings, and incorporating feedback loops before, during, and after a project is complete.
Solidarity Engineering is committed to the promotion of equitable access to services, and we are guided by the four humanitarian principles of humanity, neutrality, impartiality, and independence. These principles have long guided the work of the Red Cross and are internationally recognized by the UN.
Promoting the dignity, wellness, and humane treatment of all cannot be accomplished without considering a public health approach that addresses both physical and mental well-being.
Lack of clean water and sanitation in places of conflict or displacement can cause diarrheal diseases like cholera, which has been cited as one of the leading causes of child mortality in refugee camps by the WHO. We look to provide water filters and access to clean water whenever and wherever communities express a need.
The UN views access to recreation and play as a human right for children. We focus on STEM education outreach and building safe spaces for children like schools, playgrounds, and soccer fields.
Working alongside healthcare professionals allows us to tackle problems collaboratively. Medical professionals often treat the symptoms of disease. Engineers can treat the cause. Only together can we solve health-related problems and achieve our joint goal of reducing suffering.
How we began,
a story about showing up and staying when no other engineers did.
Solidarity Engineering's three founders - Erin Hughes, Christa Cook, and Chloe Rastatter - met at the US/Mexico border after all hearing the same podcast in November 2019, about the refugee camp that had formed in Matamoros, Mexico. When they learned about the camp's limited access to clean water and sanitation, the three individually decided they needed to do something. When each of them reached out, they were told that there was no technical or engineering presence at the camp, but that they were welcome to come down and see how they could help.
After working together for months, completing projects in partnership with the asylum seekers, Global Response Management (GRM), the Resource Center of Matamoros (RCM), and other partner NGOs, the three engineers decided to formalize. Solidarity Engineering was inaugurated in November 2020, one year after the podcast, that inspired them to change their lives, aired.