11 May Los Puentecitos
Located in the mountainous, lush hills of the far western region of El Salvador, Los Puentecitos is a small, rural farming community where most residents live off of less than $5 a day. Most residents are farmers with the main crop being corn or oranges. The local school (C.E. Los Puentecitos) is located in the heart of the community. With only grades kindergarten through 6th, it is a very small school with about 150 students in total and 3 teachers, one of whom is also the school director.
With lack of school infrastructure being a major problem all over El Salvador, the teachers at C.E. Los Puentecitos had dreamed of adding another classroom to their school to house a future 7th grade for over 10 years. When they were assigned a Peace Corps volunteer they were able to achieve that dream together with the support of the parents, students and overall community.
The Peace Corps volunteer, Sarah Sterling, tried to find a cheaper way to construct a classroom that would make it more feasible for the community to complete during her two years of service. She discovered an article about another Peace Corps volunteer in Guatemala who had built a school using plastic bottles filled with trash with Hug It Forward.
Sarah contacted Hug It Forward and set up a partnership where she sent her masons to Guatemala to be trained on the construction techniques of making a bottle classroom. With the help of the community, Hug It Forward and donations from friends and family, C.E. Los Puentecitos was able to complete their very own bottle classroom using over 4,000 plastic bottles and 400,000 plastic bags. This school became the first Hug It Forward bottle school outside of Guatemala, and the first school built using the Bottle School Manual.
Population (approximately): 562
Bottle School: 17