In New Jersey, a Salvadorian Repays His Debt to Nature

(Photo via 6MIX at Hunter College)

In 1986, the trees of the El Salvador rainforest kept Javier Rodriguez safe from El Salvador’s civil war. Now, as a tree surgeon in New Jersey, Rodriguez tries to return the favor by using eco-friendly practices and donating tree trunks to be reused as wood rather than junked, Fabiola Galindo-Behncke reported on Hunter College 6 Mix.

Rodriguez hid for days within the dense rainforest that stills surrounds his hometown, Morazán, just two hours away from the capital, San Salvador. He was escaping the Salvadorian army, who forcibly recruited youngsters in remote villages to fight in favor of the regime.

“I was never part of the FMLN (the revolutionary army), but I didn’t want to fight for the dictator either,” says Rodriguez. El Salvador’s civil war, in which the guerrilla “Foribundo Marti Liberacion Nacional” was born, lasted for 12 years and had a toll of approximately 75,000 lives.

Rodriguez got the idea of reusing tree trunks from a customer of his company, Elmwood INC.

Ernesto Henriquez, a customer for whom Elmwood INC was removing an 80-foot-tall oak tree, took the first green step. “I have a small manufacturing factory,” he explained. “So I asked Javier to bring some of the oak trunks that I could use to make pens and souvenirs for his company.”

Although the first box of pens was a gift from Henriquez, Rodriguez saw an opportunity to give the useless trunks new shape and use.  Rodriguez was soon driving tons of useless oak, maple, and pine wood to Henriquez’s small factory in Paterson, New Jersey. He wanted to make crayons, pencils and other school utensils to send to schools in Morazan.

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