Shin Fujiyama | Students Helping Honduras | El Progreso | About

My name is Shin Fujiyama and I currently live on a treehouse that I built atop a mango tree in the village of Villa Soleada, located in El Progreso, Honduras. I spend my days working off of my laptop and creating as many memorable, fun, and hilarious moments with the 32 kids from our organization’s children’s home.

I was born in Japan and grew up in Virginia, USA. After I graduated from the University of Mary Washington in 2007, I moved down to Honduras to build the nonprofit organization (Students Helping Honduras) I had created with my sister in our dorm rooms.

Here are some of the books that I read and influenced me at the time: Three Cups of Tea, Leaving Microsoft to Change the World, Mountains Beyond Mountains, Whatever It Takes, The End of Poverty, The White Man’s Burden, The Alchemist, 4-Hour Workweek.

I’m a regular guy who likes soccer, coaching kids, traveling, salsa dancing, martial arts, fitness, nutrition, reading on my Kindle, listening to podcasts.

I’m not an expert in running a nonprofit organization. I’m just someone who has spent the last decade fundraising, managing a growing team (of about 40 staff members), recruiting volunteers, starting programs (and messing up repeatedly), evaluating programs, reading, making mistakes, and learning a ton along the way.

Here are some of our accomplishments since 2006:

  • Built first school house in Honduras (2006)
  • Met Sunshine Lady Foundation’s challenge to raise $33,333 in one semester (2006)
  • Met Sunshine Lady Foundation’s challenge to raise $100,000 in one semester(2007)
  • Met Sunshine Lady Foundation’s challenge to raise $150,000 in one semester (2008)
  • Hired first staff member (2008)
  • Built Villa Soleada Village (2009)
  • Featured on CNN Heroes and Larry King Live (2009)
  • Spoke at TEDx Bangkok (2010)
  • Opened Villa Soleada Boys Home (2011)
  • Opened Villa Soleada Bilingual School (2012)
  • Spoke at Harvard University (2012)
  • Opened Villa Soleada Hostel (2012)
  • Opened Villa Soleada Girls Home (2013)
  • Built 20th school in Honduras (2015)
  • Opened Villa Soleada Boys & Girls Transitional Home (2015)
  • Built at treehouse atop a mango tree in Honduras as my home (2015)
  • Spoke at the United Nations Headquarters in NYC (2015)
  • Featured on a 60-minute documentary show on TV Tokyo (2015)
  • Opened Villa Soleada Pre-School (2016)
  • Grew team to 40+ staff members who are mostly Honduran (2016)
  • Surpassed $5 million in total funds raised since day one (2016)
  • Surpassed 5,000th volunteer signup since day one (2016)
  • Started podcasting on social entrepreneurship and development aid (July, 2016)

The team and I worked on our projects gradually—one task at a time, one day at a time. We kept tinkering, iterating, failing, and learning from our mistakes. We had moments of sadness and joy, fear and hope.

It’s hard to believe that I’m in my thirties now. Still trying new things, making mistakes, learning each day.

Thanks for joining me in this journey.