August 18th, 2013, 12:01 am, BY LINDLEY ESTES / THE FREE LANCE–STAR
In December 2004, Shin Fujiyama took his first trip to Honduras and announced that he would eventually open a girls home in the Central American country, no matter how long it took.
On Aug. 9, nearly a decade after the University of Mary Washington grad set that goal—founding Students Helping Honduras in the process—the Villa Soleada Girls Home opened its doors to 12 girls in need.
The project cost approximately $50,000 to build and furnish, and will provide housing, food, education, house parents, psychological services, sports programs, medical care and support for college for the girls living there.
The home is located in Villa Soleada, a sustainable village SHH helped create for 43 families who used to live in the city of El Progreso’s largest shantytown.
Villa Soleada, or Sunshine Village, was named in honor of Doris Buffett’s Sunshine Lady Foundation, which has made contributions to SHH projects.
Fujiyama, 29, and the executive director of SHH, called the girls home the culmination of years of small bake sales and fundraising events.
“This project is important to me because when I first arrived in Honduras on my first trip here ever in 2004, I volunteered at a girls home and found out about the state of children, especially girls, in the developing world,” Fujiyama said. “Orphaned and abandoned girls make up the most vulnerable population of today’s society.”
Fujiyama started SHH at the University of Mary Washington in 2006.
He and his sister Cosmo Fujiyama, who attended the College of William & Mary, began raising money on their college campuses for orphanages in Honduras, initially through penny drives.
Since then, the organization has built 12 schools, established Villa Soleada, provided scholarships to girls and founded a children’s home and the new girls home. Additionally, they have built homes, soccer fields, farms and a bilingual elementary school, helped locals finance their own businesses, and installed running water, electricity and sewage systems in Honduras.
The organization hosts nearly 1,000 volunteers from all over the world each year in Honduras, and nearly 100 high schools and universities have created SHH chapters.
Fujiyama was named a CNN Hero in 2009 for his work in Honduras.
“It feels surreal to know that I finally accomplished my biggest life goal,” said Fujiyama, who hopes that his organization will eventually build 1,000 schools in Honduras. “But this is only the beginning of more to come.”
Fujiyama said each of the chapter’s volunteers contributed to the Villa Soleada Girls Home, especially volunteers from Towson University who raised more than $30,000 toward the project this spring.
“The process is exhausting,” he said. “From the construction to the legal paperwork dealing with the bureaucracy in a place some people may classify as a failed state. From all the phone calls raising funds to keeping everyone updated. It’s a lot of work, and we did it together.”
WANT TO HELP?
People can donate $2, $4 or $8 per month (the cost of one cup of coffee) to help support the Villa Soleada Girls Home at onecupofcoffee.org.
Lindley Estes: 540/735-1976, firstname.lastname@example.org
Link to the original article: http://news.fredericksburg.com/newsdesk/2013/08/18/honduras-dream-comes-true/ .