Club Spotlight: Students Helping Honduras

By Laura Kennedy
Elm Staff Writer

When my feet finally touched solid ground again I was still in awe of my experience with the organization Students Helping Honduras.  My life had drastically changed in the 16 days I had spent in Honduras, the second poorest country in the western hemisphere.  From the time I left there in May of 2009 there is not a day that goes by that I have not thought about the people I met, the friendships I made, the daily experiences and the realization that I love serving others.

SHH is a non-profit organization, started in 2006, that is building a movement of college students dedicated to empowering orphaned and vulnerable children in Honduras.  We are also concerned with providing both children and adults with an education in hopes of reducing the poverty in the region.  Currently, SHH is working with a community in El Progreso called Siete de Abril (or the 7th of April) that lost everything to hurricane Mitch in 1998.  The initial efforts were to provide new roofs for homes and building a school, but perhaps most importantly it helped them buy land to start a new life.  In 2007 members of SHH were approached by Carmen, a 10-year-old who lives in Siete de Abril.  She told SHH that all she and the other children wanted were real homes to live in.  After a two-year period of countless hours of backbreaking work and constant fundraising, the community is now living in a new town called Villa Soleada.  The new community has running water, a sanitation system, electricity and most recently an education center.

Before I left Honduras that summer, I made a promise not only to myself but also to the little girl I would return to Honduras in the winter.  Returning home after my first trip, I felt empowered to help.   I had a goal; I was going to tell everyone what I had experienced during those 16 days, hoping to inspire someone to do the same thing.

After recognition from the SGA, SHH found an influx of members, but eventually the numbers dropped.  Although this was disheartening, I focused on having a core group. We not only wanted to bring awareness but to start fundraising as well.  In January 2010, I was able to lead a team comprised of five other students to El Progreso, Honduras. The stories their experiences have helped us grow as a club and now others are discovering the importance of helping the children of Honduras.

I realized after my second trip to Honduras that although I thought I was making a difference in the lives of the people I met there, they have made more of a difference to mine. The community members have become part of my family. They have shown me hope is still present in the bleakest of times, and that even though you are exhausted it is still possible to lift one more bucket full of sand, dirt, or cement. But most importantly, I have learned what it is like to be loved unconditionally by a complete stranger, who turns into someone you will never forget.

Traveling to Honduras transformed my life; it has given me something to be passionate about and has given me the belief that I can make a difference in the world.

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