Monday, June 28, 2010

We Invite You to Help Us Plant Trees

We Invite You to Help Us Plant Trees

In response to the highway destruction which will soon happen all
around us we in the Tamarindo have decided to start a reforestation
project with the people of Guarjila. It is our goal to plant 1750
trees (a tree for every person in Guarjila) over the summer months
inviting every sector of the community to get involved and plant
trees. We will also incorporate all our summer volunteers/interns as
well as our summer groups from California. With the help of our
community council we will begin to purchase trees over the next few

We also want to announce this campaign to all our friends and friends
of the environment. We would like to give you the opportunity to be a
part of our project by sponsoring a tree. Each tree sponsorship will
be $5 which will guarantee the purchase of a tree and it’s planting
here in Guarjila or in the hills that surround us.

We will be planting wood bearing trees (for construction and cooking
fuel) in the hills and fruit trees for family plots inside the
community. The highway construction will eliminate thousands of trees
so we invite you to stand with us and plant.

Sunday, June 13, 2010

The Highway to Divide Guarjila

The Highway to Divide Guarjila

Our big issue these days and (months) has been the construction of
this major highway that will link Chalatenango with Morazán. There are
already two major highways that run east to west, the Pan American
highway (Pan Americano) which stretches across the middle of the
country, and the Southern Highway (“Carretera El Literal”) which runs
along the southern coast. Now we see the beginning of the northern
highway being built with Millennium Funds from the United States which
is being called “La Longitudinal del Norte”. Our argument here is not
if the road should be built. The road will unquestionable benefit the
region and is a necessary part of development. The issue here is why
it has to be built right through Guarjila.

We have exhausted ourselves in meetings and conferences with
representatives from the Salvadoran government and private business.
We have heard promises about the benefits to Guarjila. We have seen
slick presentations showing the “new” Guarjila. Bottom line is the
road is coming. A road which will divide the Guarjila we know, take
out many houses (maybe my own), make walking in Guarjila a hazard for
elderly and children, and finally destroy thousands of trees which
Guarjila and El Salvador desperately need.

Sunday, June 6, 2010

Summer Visitors

Summer Visitors

We just said goodbye to students from Lewis and Clarke College who
have committed to supporting our Community Wellness program next year.
Next summer we will also welcome interns from that college who will
come here on a Project for Peace grant.

We are also waiting on summer interns that will come from Stanford
University as well as St. Mary’s High School. They will be involved in
programs which will include gymnastics, art, music, swimming, English
instruction and youth and adult literacy.

In a week Dick Howard will be returning to us with Mitty High School.
The Mitty trip will include our annual visit to La Palma where the
Tamarindo/Mitty Soccer Cup will be played for once again. This is a
traveling trophy which has spent the year in California after the
Tamarindo/Mitty victory over La Palma in 2009. The Cup is won with a
combined score from both women and men’s soccer games. The
Tamarindo/Mitty teams are combined teams and it has been fun to watch
the Mitty student’s team up with Tamarindo’s to play very competitive
La Palma teams. This year’s men’s team will be organized by Santos
Alfaro and our women’s team will be led by Evelyn Henriquez. This year
will be the eighth addition to this wonderful rivalry.

Following Mitty High School we will receive Margaret Miller and St.
Francis High School. I had the opportunity to meet the incoming
students and their parents from St. Francis in the spring. They seem
real excited about coming and we are excited they are coming. We hope
to invite St. Francis parents to Guarjila in the fall.

Wednesday, June 2, 2010



At this writing the Chicago Blackhawks are leading the Philadelphia
Flyers 2-0 in the Stanley Cup Finals. We are also in our playoff
hockey season as four teams remain in the battle for the Tamarindo
Cup. All of your favorite players Luis, Gio, Carlos and Cobra all are
leading their teams into the semi-final round.

What this hockey season and those older players have created is a
remarkable interest in hockey in the kids here in Guarjila. We now
have groups of kids that practice daily at 4 pm and that hour has
become a very important “school” for us. As Bud Frutkin once wrote,
“no study…no soccer”. Well that idea has been expanded; No
responsibility…No commitment…..No respect…..No community service…No

Parents have been very grateful for what hockey is doing to facilitate
change in attitudes of their kids. For some kids like Capu, it’s the
only thing that he thinks about all day. That’s fine but he needs to
be responsible in every other area to qualify for practice at 4 (he is
never late).

It has been wonderful to see this ‘new’ commitment by young kids to
play which in turn is bringing them to new levels of growth as people.

Tropical Storm Agatha

Hello to all,

Notes from Guarjila..................

Tropical Storm Agatha

Life in El Salvador continues on. I guess it was something that I
learned and observed during the war. No matter how bad things can get
here, people keep moving forward. This week we suffered another blow;

It rained for at least five days non stop. When the rain ended
yesterday nine people had died, thousands had been evacuated from
their homes, roads and bridges had been destroyed and the president
had declared a national alert.

The president of El Salvador, Mauricio Funes, said that if the rain
continued through Monday, the country would have fallen into a major
disaster (thank God it stopped). The already challenged (and in some
cases non existent) infrastructure could not withstand one more drop.

Today as the sun shines over the rain soaked mountains there are still
families without homes, no land to farm, an infrastructure that is
badly beaten up and a good intentioned president who needs to figure a
way to relocate families to safety and come good on his many promises.
This is a country in need.

But what is amazing as the rain ends today, the sides of mountains
are filled with men and women planting corn seeds, planting the crop
which will feed them for another year. Undeterred by natural disaster,
war and what ever else may happen, seeds continue to be planted for
tomorrow. That is El Salvador.

Just a couple of notes on the storm. The many families that we are
working with at the Costa del Sol were all evacuated over the weekend
but today will return home. Here in Guarjila there was no damage to
homes or property. In the northern zone of Chalatenango we did see the
destruction of a large piece of the Sumpul River Bridge. The bridge
links the communities of northwest Chalatenango (Guarjila, Ellacuria,
San Jose las Flores with Nueva Trinidad and Arcatao). It was the
bridge that Jon Cortina built during the war. The swirling, rushing
water took out a chunk of the bridge. At the apex of the storm the
water rose two meters above the bridge. Currently vehicle crossing is
impossible but foot traffic is permitted. Critical public
transportation across the zone (Arcatao to Chalatenango) is now being
accomplished by relay. Buses from the north of the bridge are running
to the foot of the destruction at the Sumpul while other buses on the
Las Flores side meet the people crossing on foot and complete the run
to Chalatenango.

I can only imagine Fr. Jon Cortina (who reconstructed that bridge
during the war) seeing the destruction of this weekend. Jon had the
vision of a bridge that would link our communities with the capacity
to handle big trucks and buses, to not only move people but also
material to build. I guess Jon would say (with a huge smile….cigarette
in hand),”well it didn’t fall”. Then he would organize the
communities to reconstruct the broken section. The responsibility is
with the communities. Have no doubt it will be rebuilt.