Many students spent spring break relaxing and vacationing, but six members of Students Helping Honduras used the time off from classes to complete a week-long service project in Honduras.

Founded in 2006, SHH is an international organization aiming to raise awareness about poverty in Honduras, one of the poorest countries in the western hemisphere, and to fund poverty reduction projects there. SHH members have the opportunity to experience life in Honduras firsthand, instead of simply donating money. SHH members at George Mason University used personal funds to finance the trip, freeing up the money raised by the organization earlier in the year to go directly to projects in Honduras.

SHH members contributed to the construction of a school in Honduras. They also donated computers, books and other educational supplies to schools in Honduras.

The SHH members who traveled to Honduras were history major Jessica Campbell, government & international politics major Jorge Carvajal, mathematics major Mallory Taylor, government & international politics major Kali Matalon, public administration graduate student Lauren Grimes and business graduate student Luis Sanchez. Campbell worked at a bilingual elementary school at the main project site, named Villa Soleada, where her knowledge of Spanish enabled her to translate for her friends who are not as familiar with the language as she is.

Fluency in Spanish, however, was not necessary to fully appreciate the experience.

“It was neat to see how people could communicate even through the language barrier. It wasn’t an impediment at all,” Campbell said.

Campbell was pleasantly surprised by the condition of the area where she volunteered. Honduras is known to have drug and gang activity, but these problems were not visible to the volunteer students.

“I felt completely safe there. I didn’t feel threatened at all,” Campbell said. She also described what she felt to be the native optimism of the Hondurans.

“There’s this desire to better the lives of their kids,” she said.

This was the second consecutive year that Carvajal, the president of Mason’s SHH chapter, volunteered in Honduras. Having already worked on the some of the projects Carvajal was rewarded in seeing the progress of his past work.

“Since the last time I went, I saw that the ditch which we built last time [is] now a wall,” he said. “The blocks that we laid last time I went [are] now a school, and the trench we dug for a foundation is now a tool shed.”

Carvajal also said many of the Honduran students he met last year remembered him and thanked him for returning to help build their community again.

The Mason chapter of SHH has volunteered to help the Honduran community every year since it was founded in 2009.

Students interested in joining SHH are encouraged to attend any of the meetings, which are held every Tuesday at 7:30 p.m. in Room D of the Johnson Center.

There is no membership fee. SHH’s next event will be the Second Annual Cup Challenge, a water pong tournament from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Tuesday in East Plaza. For additional information about SHH, visit