Good news! After years of hard work, the community of Sol Naciente and the Village of Once, El Salvador, has a new well and clean running water pumped into the homes of 38 families. Special thanks to Sisters of St. Dominic of Amityville Sister Flor de Maria Buruca, S. Diane Capuano, as well as many others from global and local Rotary Clubs, Molloy College, Dominican College, the Sisters of St. Dominic of Amityville and the Dominican Sisters of Blauvelt.
It all started with a photo of a child holding a bag of water. The students from Dominican College in Orangeburg; had just returned from a mission trip to Sol Naciente with Molloy College students in 2015. They had volunteered to help at a faith-based camp for children at the community of Amityville Dominican Sister Flor de Maria Buruca.
As part of the experience when they returned home, the students were required to give a presentation to the college community. Dorothy Filoramo, the vice president of institutional advancement and incoming president of the Rotary Club of Pearl River, saw the picture and asked, “What is that?” She was incredulous to discover that the little bag the child was holding was his only source of clean water. She wanted to do something — her actions lead to a ripple effect of community involvement.
The problem was that Sol Naciente – a community of displaced people – had been sharing well water with a neighboring town. Villagers did not have access to the existing well every day because it was drying up. They walked miles to get the water three to four times a week and the storage of the commodity was often unsanitary.
Now, clean water is delivered to their homes! Flipping through pictures of the newly completed project, one can see there are miles of freshly laid pipe from the new well to each home in the community. Each family will pay $6 a month for water. If households go above that amount, they will be charged more. This will eliminate past problems in which a plantation used most of the community’s water without paying their fair share.
There were many obstacles along the way. It took years to secure the well property. Eventually, S. Flor hired a lawyer to cut through the bureaucracy to help identify the owner of the land. It had been registered under various ghost names. Even after that, their meetings concerning the purchase of the property were postponed each week with the promise of “next Friday” again and again. Finally, S. Flor helped to organize a protest. “We rented a bus and made signs, took the children and invited the media,” explained S. Flor. “Within ten minutes they let us inside.”
“This would never be possible without S. Flor,” said Ryan Orgorman a teacher at Dominican College who attended the mission trip in 2015 and has since worked hard to raise funds. “Her passion and dedication to this community, her home, is admirable. She started this. It was through her perseverance that we were able to finish this. She never took no for an answer. If there were roadblocks to accomplish something, she ended up finding a way. I admire her tremendously.” He also praised S. Diane Capuano for her work bringing students on the mission trips as well as being a constant “cheerleader” through the obstacles.
“It is great to see smiling faces of community members,” continued Ryan. “A basic need is being fulfilled. It is great that we are able to do that….This is what defines being a Dominican: helping out when there is a need. We all pitched in and helped out to make this happen.”
“It’s Sister Flor’s home area and she brought us there and created this wonderful community center,” said Dorothy Filoramo. “Sister Flor had laid the foundation. It’s really her leadership with the people and her relationship with them that is most meaningful. She brought us into that and they received us joyfully!” Although the well has been blessed by the community, Dorothy hopes to once to El Salvador once again for a formal dedication to witness the completed project and the community she has come to love.
“My heart is filled with joy knowing the beautiful people of Sol Naciente and the neighboring Village of Once are now receiving clean water,” said S. Diane Capuano. “This Water Project was a labor of love. I can’t wait to go back to Sol Naciente to see the well and, of course, to be with the people. Hopefully, a group of us will return in January 2022 to continue to assist Sister Flor in this Dominican Mission.”