It all started with a 20 year-old college student on a weeklong service trip to Honduras.
In 2004, Shin Fujiyama spent his winter break from the University of Mary Washington volunteering in Honduras. He was so moved by the experience that he returned to Honduras during his subsequent breaks to learn more about the country, its challenges, and its people.
In 2006, he started Students Helping Honduras (SHH) with his sister, Cosmo, who was attending the College of William & Mary at the time. Shin established a makeshift office in his dorm room closet for the 501 (c) 3 nonprofit organization and began collecting coins inside a plastic penny jar. Many of the organization’s initial fundraising attempts failed miserably—including a penny drive that made no more than $23.
Upon graduation in 2007, Shin and Cosmo moved down to Honduras to build up the organization. Together with the people of Honduras, the organization built the village of Villa Soleada, the Villa Soleada Children’s Home, and the Villa Soleada Bilingual School.
Concurrently, the team began building schools towards a goal of building 1,000 schools throughout Honduras. Nearly one hundred campuses and schools throughout the world got behind the campaign. By 2019, more than 7,000 people had volunteered with the organization in Honduras, 50 school projects had been completed, more than $5 million had been raised, and the organization had grown to employ more than 70 staff members—most of whom are Honduran nationals.
Provisional schoolhouse is built in Siete de Abril
We meet the Sunshine Lady Foundation’s challenge to raise $33,333 in one semester
We meet the Sunshine Lady Foundation’s challenge to raise $100,00 in one semester
Shin and Cosmo move down to Honduras
Construction of Villa Soleada begins
We meet the Sunshine Lady Foundation’s challenge to raise $150,000 in one semester
First staff member is hired
The Villa Soleada Boy’s Home opens
Villa Soleada Bilingual School opens with 50 students
Villa Soleada Guest House is built
Opened Villa Soleada Girl’s Home
Villa Soleada Pre-School opens its doors
Team grows to 40+ staff members who are mostly Honduran
Total funds raised since day one surpasses $5 million
Total number of build trip volunteers since day one surpasses 5,000
Shin starts podcast show on social entrepreneurship and development aid
Grew Team to 60+ staff members who are mostly Honduran
Villa Soleada Bilingual School surpasses 250 students
Villa Soleada Early Childhood Education Center nears completion
Groundbreaking of the Villa Soleada Bilingual High School
Groundbreaking of our 50th school project
Conducted an impact report on existing school projects
Built our first school in the municipality of Tela, Honduras
Completed construction of the Villa Soleada Bilingual High School
Celebrated the first class of middle school graduates at the Villa Soleada Bilingual School
Survived the COVID-19 Pandemic and Hurricanes Eta and Iota
Created a hurricane shelter and hosted roughly 100 people displaced by Hurricanes Eta and Iota