While El Salvador coordinator Michael Bonderer recently spent time in Haiti, the remaining staff in El Salvador kept busy on several projects. One project was addressing the long term need for vegetation and life in Villa Fuller. The project in Santa Clara is located in a rural setting in farm land and temperatures on the work site can seem unbearable at times. However, since the land was formerly a dry, dusty plot there is almost no shade except for that of our homes.
In the quest for relief Zuze Bonderer made several appeals for trees from local government agencies. Fuller Center staff have had a long term relationship with Consejo Nacionál, a Salvadoran Federal agency that deals with adolescent needs throughout the country. Carman Cordoba, a Director of Consejo Nacionál, directed us to the Alcaldias (City Hall) of San Salvador and Soyapango, the capitol and the second largest city in El Salvador. We wrote letters describing our organization and the need for trees in our projects. After running through the procedures we had success when the Alcaldia of Soyapango donated about 65 trees and small shrubs and San Salvador donated 75.
Once assembled, the collection of trees at Villa Fuller was a jungle of trees and shrubs of all sizes. There were orange, lemon, and other fruit trees along with flowering trees and a wide variety of shrubs and bushes. The job of planting was an obvious match to the kids that would be joining us again from the American School of San Salvador. This school, the first international Student Builders group, began working with the Fuller Center in the Fall of 2009 and have sent a new group of 12 kids to work with us this semester.
The fresh group arrived on Saturday, February 7 with excitement and a positive attitude ready to help in whatever way they could. Led by the school’s Community Service Director, Holly Jones, the team was given an orientation to the work and process being done in Villa Fuller and a tour of the construction sites.
The kids were eager to get to work and we quickly laid out a plan and began digging holes. Along the road entering the project we lined one side with tall flowering trees and the other with short shrubs and bushes. We planted small bushes in the front and side of many of the homes that did not already have plant life. We made a small orchard of fruit bearing trees in the front of the project around the location of the community cistern and water pumps. Every new plant was given a healthy dose of water to start its new life in the otherwise dry ground of the rural land.
In total the group of students planted 107 plants, leaving some leftover because of the remaining active construction sites. After a few years of growth and nurturing, Villa Fuller will be transformed into a beautiful landscape of life and fruit. Hopefully we will have created many places of much needed shade around the project, begun the first step toward a sustainable fruit bearing enterprise for the community, and given the families something to be proud of.