Evan Fujimoto And Doug Long
For Evan Fujimoto and Doug Long, charity doesn’t end at home. The two men have each contributed their personal time and dollars toward helping those less fortunate in countries literally halfway around the world.
Fujimoto returned last month from a two-week medical mission to the remote village of Gatlang, Nepal, where he and other Hawaii residents from New Hope Christian Fellowship provided more than 450 villagers with medical and dental care/treatments within four days.
“It’s something I’ve always wanted to do - go abroad to do mission work - and once I got there it was just really a life-transforming experience,” says the Niu Valley resident, adding that group members purchased all supplies and medications out-of-pocket. “Oftentimes you go and you do this things, and you don’t really know what to expect, but in the end you realize you’re being used for a purpose.”
This is the second trip to Nepal for Fujimoto, who is president of the local design and build company Graham Builders. He first traveled to the Asian country in 2008, where he and his group helped approximately 650 people in a span of three days. And this most-recent trip won’t be his last:
“When I think about what my life objectives are, other than working in a company like this or raising a family, I think mission work is really a big part of that in the future,” says the father of five. “In fact, I’ve been encouraging my eldest son to consider going on a trip. I don’t know when it would be, he’s a senior in high school now, but I would love for him to pursue something that would take him overseas to lesser-developed countries.”
Perhaps that something will be the Peace Corps, something colleague Long knows all about. A project manager with Graham, Long’s story begins in 1992 when he journeyed to Swaziland, Africa, as a teacher with the volunteer organization. During his stay he met a student name Mphumzane who had no family or place to live. Long welcomed the boy to stay in his home for a few nights, but it soon became apparent that Mphumzane would be much more than just a temporary house guest.
“It was pretty amazing: He walked in the door and he lived there,” Long remembers. ” He knew what his position was, he knew that he was a member of the household and that he would need to participate as a member of the household. It was an instant bonding.”
When Long left in 1994, he arranged to support Mphumzane financially until the teen completed school and could provide for himself. By 2002 Mphumzane, now in his 30s, was able to start his own hair salon, and today is able to care for himself, his girlfriend and their two children.
Later this month Long will return to Africa, this time to visit two more young men under his charge. He met Retsilisitsoe, 19, and Motlalepula, 20, in 2003 when he was teaching vocational school in Lesotho with the Peace Corp. Again, after realizing these two students had potential but lacked the means to advance in life, Long vowed to support them both until they completed school and could earn a living.
“I don’t go out and find these kids; they kind of find you,” says Long, who lives in Kalihi. “My relationship with them is they can go to school and they don’t have to think about where their next meal is coming from. That’s my big contribution: They can still be kids.”
In addition to taking Retsilisitsoe and Motlalepula on a vacation to Cape Town to see Table Mountain and Robben Island, Long will be bringing clothing and shoes to donate at local hospitals and organizations that work with orphaned and disadvantaged children.
” When you stay in a place longer, you develop these long-term relationships,” says Long. “All of my trips are back and forth to Africa now because of these connections.”
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