When I met Cosmo Fujiyama, class of 2007, I was a first-semester freshman with no conception of the huge project she had undertaken. Along with her brother, Cosmo had founded Students Helping Honduras, a non-profit organization dedicated to mobilizing students in an effort to empower at-risk children in Honduras. Along with working in an orphanage in El Progreso, Honduras during her summer and winter breaks, Cosmo spent her weekends doing fundraisers and awareness campaigns. Even before graduating from college, Cosmo and her brother had raised enough money and manpower to build an education center at the orphanage and to embark upon a new adventure- fundraising to build homes for fifty families in need of shelter.
Cosmo invited me to participate in a speed dating fundraiser, where students paid an entrance fee and spent a few hours getting to know a new group of people. I had a blast- I loved Cosmo’s infectious enthusiasm and her friends, who all seemed so devoted to the cause. I wanted to get involved, not just on campus, but in Honduras.
In January 2008, I spent my first week in El Progreso mixing cement and filling foundations. I visited the orphanage where Students Helping Honduras had been working. I became friends with the families with whom and for whom I did the construction work. In January 2009, I returned, and I found the majority of the homes whose foundations I had laid completed- made of sturdy cinderblock and cement, waterproof, and resistant to tropical storms. I was reunited with the people I had come to love the year before. I’m already looking forward to serving on staff in Honduras for two weeks this May! I can’t wait to see the families settled into their new homes!
Students Helping Honduras has more than 13 chapters on the east coast and in the midwest. As a founding chapter, William and Mary is one of the largest and most involved. This semester, each of the chapters is taking on a project to fill in the project’s gaps and to assure that the village we have built is sustainable. While other chapters have chosen to provide electricity, clean water, and a library, William and Mary is working to raise $25,000 for an eco-friendly sanitation system. Spring is fundraising season, and we officially kicked it off last week. Each member will raise $500-$1000, and we will host a number of events on campus, including the 4th Annual Walk-a-thon for Hope on April 4. The job is huge, but donations from friends and family make the undertaking feasible.
It is clear that Cosmo and her brother have modeled Students Helping Honduras on the same community feeling we embrace at William and Mary. We are a supportive family, united by common cause, and encouraging one another to “dig deep,” in Cosmo’s words, to accomplish a huge task. Juntos, todo es posible- Together, everything is possible.
Bailey Thomson, 2010