Students Helping Honduras

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Students Helping Honduras
SHHLogo.png
Abbreviation SHH
Motto Where students create change
Formation 2006
Type NGO
Purpose/focus Humanitarianism
Headquarters Fredericksburg, VA and El Progreso, Honduras
Region served Honduras
Executive Director Shin Fujiyama
Website StudentsHelpingHonduras.org

Students Helping Honduras (SHH) is an international NGO operating in both the United States and Honduras. While the majority of its projects are centered on the peripheries of El Progreso, the organization engages in projects throughout all of Honduras.

History[edit]

Origin[edit]

Shin Fujiyama and his sister Cosmo Fujiyama first traveled to Honduras in the summer of 2004, volunteering on a mission trip organized by the Campus Christian Community of the University of Mary Washington to help victims of poverty and domestic abuse.[1] Shin met and grew close to the people of a squatter village called Siete de Abril (Spanish for April 7th); the villagers, whose homes had been destroyed by Hurricane Mitch in 1998, named the village after the date on which their sudden homelessness forced them to establish it. Having borne witness to the harsh conditions in which the villagers and their children lived, Shin vowed to help them overcome poverty. The semester following his trip, Shin founded Students Helping Honduras (SHH) as an official student organization within his university, as did his sister, who attended the College of William & Mary.[2]

The organization, which began as a small group of students eager to help the siblings fulfill their mission, began to hold local events in an effort to raise funds. Their first walkathon, held in the spring of 2006, raised over $148,000 with the help of a matching grant from Doris Buffett, founder of The Sunshine Lady Foundation. Those proceeds allowed the students to travel back to Honduras and build a school with the villagers of Siete de Abril.[3]

While constructing the school, a 10-year old girl named Carmen gave a handwritten letter to Shin. It expressed her dream in which, one day, every family in her village would live in a safer home. Shin, touched by the now iconic letter, once again mobilized his friends to fulfill her dream.[4] Doris Buffett offered the students a second matching grant of $100,000, on the condition that the students raise that very amount by the end of the semester.[5][6] The students reached out to friends from other college campuses including Virginia Tech and the University of Virginia, both of which would establish chapters of SHH. The band of students raised $110,000 by the end of the semester, earning Buffett's matching grant for a combined total of over $210,000.[citation needed] With this money, SHH was able to purchase a land title on which the villagers could live legally, and they had raised enough money to build one cinder block house for each family from Siete de Abril.

Shin registered Students Helping Honduras as a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization in 2007,[7] as advised by Dr. Gregory Stanton, founder of Genocide Watch. Today the organization hosts service trips throughout the year as part of its formal operations. Students and adults travel to Honduras in groups to assist with construction, build relationships with the local residents and witness the conditions in which they live. Respectively, these three activities facilitate most of the progress of the organization, by: (a) shortening the project completion time; (b) building trust and fidelity between the villagers and the organization; and (c) stoking passion within trip participants to support those villagers upon returning to the United States.

Evolution[edit]

Students Helping Honduras has restructured its governing body in at least two ways since its inception: it has rewritten its mission statement and instituted a Student Board to represent the interests of student volunteers.

The original mission statement of SHH was stated as the following:[8]

  1. Provide fundamental human needs to orphaned and impoverished children in Honduras. This includes, but is not limited to, educational opportunities, nourishment, access to adequate shelter, clean water, general livelihood, and a chance to participate in sports.
  2. Cultivate volunteerism, compassion, and global responsibility.
  3. Promote awareness of the condition in Honduras.
  4. Connect and mobilize students throughout the country utilizing the full range of today's technology.

The Board of Directors recognized that this mission statement lacked a vision that was specific enough to guide the actions of organization in a focused manner. They agreed to hone their mission statement and thus their operations toward the welfare of orphaned and at-risk children; hence the current mission statement of Students Helping Honduras is "to mobilize students in a massive and focused effort to empower orphaned and at-risk children in Honduras to reach their full potential."[9]

Finished and ongoing projects[edit]

Villa Soleada[edit]

Villagers laying bricks for the foundation of a house

This project consists of forty-four 22’x 28’ homes, each with three bedrooms, a central room, bathroom, and shower. The design of the homes and the entire village was based on drawings made by the villagers. The village will also include a community center usable for church gatherings or town meetings, land for farming and sustainable businesses, a well, a library, eco-friendly waste management system, electricity, and most importantly, a soccer field.[10]

SHH Women's Academy[edit]

SHH is providing girls from underprivileged communities and orphanages the opportunity to study at the best universities in Honduras. The program offers group housing and full scholarships to qualified candidates. Currently, four girls live in the house, and the number is expected to reach fifteen by 2012.[11]

La Ceiba Microfinance Institution[edit]

La Ceiba seeks to empower women in Honduras as they develop business plans, undergo training, and create their own businesses.[12]

Fuel-Efficient Cooking Stoves[edit]

These stoves significantly reduce the amount of indoor pollution in households utilizing traditional fuel stoves. This includes as smoke and carbon monoxide, the fourth leading cause of death for children under the age of five in developing countries. Through its efficient design, these stoves require only half of the amount of firewood compared to an ordinary stove and have significantly contributed to the health of villagers in Siete de Abril.

The completed school in Por Venir

Por Venir School[edit]

In 2008, SHH built a three room elementary school at the village of Por Venir that is currently enrolling nearly 150 children.

Current projects[edit]

Unidos Venceremos Elementary School[edit]

The families of Unidos Venceremos came together in 2007 to build a provisional, one-classroom school to educate their children. One teacher provides education to 30 children of all ages and grades. The growing community hopes to upgrade the school into a cinder block facility with a bathroom that will recycle rain water.[13]

La Nunez Elementary School[edit]

La Nunez elementary school has been in operation since 1998. Today, six teachers serve 150 children. Their current 3-classroom structure is made of rotting wood and tin. Their goal is to build a 3 classroom cinder block school. The families are extremely organized and have raised the funds to pay for a skilled mason to help with the construction.[14]

Rio Chiquito Elementary School[edit]

The Rio Chiquito Elementary School has been in operation since 2000. Six teachers serve 134 children in just two classrooms. With an increasing population in the area, Rio Chiquito is hoping to build 3 to 4 additional classrooms and refurbish the existing classrooms.[15]

Las Flores Elementary and Middle School[edit]

Las Flores elementary and middle school was founded in the 1960s in the deep banana fields of El Progreso. It serves more than 300 children from 7 surrounding villages. In response to the increase in the number of students recently, the families organized bake sales and penny drives to build four provisional classrooms. They hope to build walls for these open air classrooms to protect the children from rain, noise and gang members in the area. Las Flores is also hoping to build three new classrooms for the middle school. [16]

Villa Soleada Children's Home[edit]

SHH will be opening the Villa Soleada Children's Home in 2011. The project will provide shelter, food, education and a loving family to the orphaned and abandoned children in northern Honduras. Full fundung for the project has been reached and the home will open Fall 2011.[17]


In order to sustain the home, a sister organization of SHH called the Central American Children's Institute (CeCI) has developed the "One Cup of Coffee" program. Members give $4 each month, or the cost of one cup of coffee that will go straight towards providing food, shelter, education and loving staff members for the children in our children’s home. Membership to this program is hoped to reach 500 donors by the end of the year. [18]

Volunteer home[edit]

Upon its completion, this "hotel" in Villa Soleada will help house student volunteers of SHH. Along with housing the volunteers, this will provide a number of jobs to local people who will run the facility.

Membership and chapters[edit]

The membership of SHH consists of more than two thousand students, young professionals, and adults from fifteen states and twenty chapters.[19]

Chapters are typically located on U.S. college campuses including:

References[edit]

  1. ^ http://www.umw.edu/publications/umwtoday_spring2007/features/hero_in_honduras/default.php UMW Today
  2. ^ http://fredericksburg.com/News/FLS/2008/042008/04042008/368325 Free-Lance Star
  3. ^ http://www.umw.edu/universityrelations/news/archives/umw_students_organize_walk.php University of Mary Washington
  4. ^ http://fredericksburg.com/News/FLS/2007/042007/04152007/274571 The Free Lance-Star
  5. ^ http://fredericksburg.com/News/FLS/2007/032007/03312007/272114 The Free Lance-Star
  6. ^ http://www.umw.edu/universityrelations/news/archives/students_helping_honduras_.php University of Mary Washington
  7. ^ http://www.guidestar.org/FinDocuments/2007/412/191/2007-412191361-04b73fc1-9.pdf From 990
  8. ^ http://web.archive.org/web/20070223091607/www.studentshelpinghonduras.org/about_mission.htm Students Helping Honduras
  9. ^ http://www.studentshelpinghonduras.org/about Students Helping Honduras
  10. ^ Villa Soleada Project Overview
  11. ^ http://www.umw.edu/news/?a=1074 University of Mary Washington
  12. ^ La Ceiba Homepage
  13. ^ http://giving.studentshelpinghonduras.org/shh/about.asp
  14. ^ http://giving.studentshelpinghonduras.org/shh/about.asp
  15. ^ http://giving.studentshelpinghonduras.org/shh/about.asp
  16. ^ http://giving.studentshelpinghonduras.org/shh/about.asp
  17. ^ http://giving.studentshelpinghonduras.org/shh/about.asp
  18. ^ http://www.ceciskids.org/
  19. ^ SHH Chapters

External links[edit]