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The Paladin

Furman University's Student Newspaper

The Paladin

Furman University's Student Newspaper

The Paladin

Furman Finds a New Means of Helping Communities Abroad

Courtesy of Furman Athletics
Furman Finds a New Means of Helping Communities Abroad.jpg
Furman students Molly Petner (lower left corner) and Caroline Byrd traveled to Honduras over winter break to help lay the framework for new schools. Photo Courtesy of Molly Petner

Building 1,000 schools in Honduras may sound like a lofty goal, but to the new Furman chapter of Students Helping Honduras (SHH), it is all part of the passion and love for the organization.

“I started the chapter at Furman after volunteering with the organization for two years,” said junior president and founder Caroline Byrd. “I went to USC my freshmen year and they have a pretty big chapter there. I volunteered [in Honduras] during my freshman year Spring Break and I just kept going back. My church volunteered to pay for me to go the next summer. It just became a part of my experience.”

Students Helping Honduras is a global non-profit organization that was founded in 2007 by Shin Fujiyama, a college student from Japan who was inspired by a week-long service trip to Honduras. Since then, the organization has garnered interest in the United States and has nearly 100 chapters at universities and high schools that spread its vision of supporting various charities and building projects in Honduras through fundraising and service work.

Over winter break, the presidents and founders of Furman’s chapter of SHH, Byrd and junior Molly Petner were able to see the impact that a chapter can have on the area.

“Since it was only Caroline and I on the trip, we were put in a group with a few other schools like Michigan and Maryland,” Petner said.

“They had our group breaking ground on the school. Mostly mixing cement by hand, digging trenches, and doing rebar for the foundation within the school,” Byrd said.

While the group made huge progress on the school, the trip was not all hard labour; the students also had opportunities to engage in the culture of Honduras.

“We had a day when we made Baleadas with the village that we were working with,” Byrd said.

“Just interacting with the people from the village who were also helping to build the school was a big cultural immersion and talking to some of the kids,” Petner added.

While many Students Helping Honduras groups do visit Honduras, Byrd emphasized there is much more to the club than visiting the country.

“We are not a travel organization,” Byrd said, emphasizing that because of the travel warning to Honduras, the club is mainly focused on fundraising money that will go directly to the schools. However, students can fundraise for their own trip to Honduras with the national Students Helping Honduras organization.

In terms of the club’s overall message, Byrd highlighted her hope to create a passion for global development in students.

“Being in a classroom and learning about poverty, even seeing poverty, doesn’t even cover the complexity of the solutions to the problems,” Byrd said. “I just want people to learn how to care and be compassionate in a different way to volunteering and global development than they previously were.”

Additionally, Byrd and Petner both emphasized the fact that the students are not the ones who are changing Honduras. Instead, it is those who live in the communities that the students visited.

“They really emphasize that we’re the sidekicks, not the heroes” Petner said.

With the future in the hands of the Honduran people, the new Furman chapter of Students Helping Honduras stands ready to help. To find out more information, visit their Instagram page SHH.at.Furman, Facebook page SHH at Furman University or the national website www.shhkids.org.

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