Fuller Center dedicates its 500th home in El Salvador
SAN SALVADOR — Fuller Center for Housing President David Snell traveled to El Salvador last week with our partners at The People Helping People Network, who have an annual Vision Trip the week after Thanksgiving to see PHP’s various operations in the country, notably in its four key focus areas — Health Care, Hunger Relief, Education, and Housing.
More than a dozen participants on the trip were not only able to meet Fuller Center families and tour thriving communities, but they also were on hand for a pair of special events — the dedication of The Fuller Center’s 500th home in El Salvador and the groundbreaking for yet another Fuller Center community coming to a beautiful site in Juayua.
The 500th home belongs to the Jacinta family, and is one of 54 in the community of El Espino, a close-knit group of families who were evicted from land on which they had lived for generations before a developer seized the land upon discovering no one could prove who held the title. After living in shacks and a roadside slum, the El Espino families are comfortable and safe in a beautiful new community.
“It was great and very sweet,” Snell said of the dedication ceremony for the Jacintas. “They’re a lovely family. It’s a very nice house, and they’ve done a lot of work on it and inside. They seem very happy, and we’re very happy. It was a nice event.”
He added that it was fitting that the 500th home is located in El Espino.
“They’d been on a hillside near this site for 40 years,” Snell said. “They were farmworkers who were working a farm there. So, this is truly a community, and they’d been a community for many years. They all know one another and care for one another. So, it has a real nice feel to it. It’s a very positive place.”
Snell also was able to join local leadership including Lisselot Troconis and PHP founder Jeff Cardwell (also a Fuller Center board member) for a gathering with families who will be living in a new 50-home community near Juayua. Currently, the site is home to a soccer field, but the city has agreed to build a new soccer field adjacent to the new homes.
“They’re gonna break ground in two weeks and plan to have it finished for springtime,” Snell said. “It’s an ideal spot, just as flat as can be.”
“It is an absolutely beautiful site,” Cardwell added. “It’s going to be a nice, flat building site, but it’s surrounded by mountains. It’s just a beautiful place.”
During the trip, the group also got to meet with El Salvador’s Housing Minister Michelle Sol, who was mayor of Nuevo Cuscatlán when The Fuller Center began building there a few years ago.
“Michelle really wanted to take the opportunity to thank The Fuller Center and thank People Helping People and the volunteers and people coming there because she said without The Fuller Center and People Helping People, she would not be the Minister of Housing today,” Cardwell said. “She said it’s through the programs we implemented in Nuevo Cuscatlán that gave her the opportunity to spread the programs across the country.
“She’s been very supportive,” he added. “It is a tremendous example of what a successful public-private partnership looks like. Both The Fuller Center and People Helping People have seen exponential growth in the country because of that partnership. And she’s looking forward to seeing that partnership grow and continue.”
The trip also made quite an impression on some of those who came to witness The People Helping People Network and The Fuller Center for Housing are making a real, tangible difference in people’s lives, including Phil Watkins, an executive with AES Indiana. AES provides electric services in both the Indianapolis area where PHP is based and in The Fuller Center’s El Salvador communities.
“This trip allowed me to see firsthand the results of individuals putting their faith into action, and partnering together with various entities — private, public and government — to accomplish great things,” Watkins said. “My respect for the vision of PHP and Jeff Cardwell, has only grown, which in turn has increased my desire to do what I can to support the work of the PHP organization and Fuller Center for Housing.”