El árbol

Last updated: Dec 19, 2020


El Arbol Foundation supports nature and the environment by providing environmental education in the field of sustainability, biodiversity, reforestation and organic agriculture. Both in schools and the rural countryside classes and lessons are offered.

Emancipation and employment are encouraged by the implementation of projects aimed at helping the most underprivileged people in society: women, their (often) malnourished children and the disabled. With help improve their lives socially and economically in a structural way.

Brief review

Saskia van Vuuren, born and raised in Heemskerk, she was a professional (building) contractor. Particularly, for 20 years, she was one of only five female contractors in the Netherlands.


First acquaintance

Since 1981 she runs a thriving eco-friendly contractor, it only works with natural materials. A call for help in womanmagazine "Opzij" brought Saskia in 1993 for the first time in contact with Nicaraguan women. Together with a female construction brigade, she worked as a volunteer in the rebuilding of a woman's house and medical clinic. Saskia and the women of the construction brigade helping four unemployed Nicaraguan women with money and equipment to set up their own wife carpentry workshop. An employment project that unemployed women from the training environment to furniture. The shop name was Los Laureles.

Foundation El Arbol

Nicaragua has no such thing as a scholarship or benefit. That is why Saskia founded the ElArbol Foundation(the tree) on September 26, 1997 to raise funds for the workshop, creation of sustainable forestry projects and various other projects focused on environmental, social, sustainability and employment.


Hurricane Mitch created a terrible disaster in Central America in 1998. Especially Honduras and northern Nicaragua are severely affected. There are at least 25,000 deaths. Whole villages have been wiped from the map and much of the infrastructure was destroyed. Hundreds of thousands ofpeople became "instantly" homeless. Saskia raises funds for shelter for a hundred women in Nicaragua affected by the disaster. Together with the collective she is busy hammering new roofs for them that is taking them some months.


The development in Nicaragua gets a boost. With funds raised through El Arbol the recently established sister organization is able to buy a forest of 476 hectaresnear the city of Chinandega. The aim is to restore it and then checked and sustainable exploitation. In the area many forests are cut down for firewood and application of intensive agriculture. Through years of erosion the fertile soil have been washed away. The forestry project goal is to stop mudslides and future flooding and provides sustainable employment to the poor people in the region and secondly it could supply timber for the local workshop.

Moving to Nicaragua

For seven years Saskia shuttles between Nicaragua and the Netherlands. During the winter season she works with the women of Chinandega in the carpentry workshop. The other part of the year, she works in the Netherlands in building & construction businesscompany named "Varne", a water-floating workshop, in the surroundings of Weesp. The travelling is exhausting and Saskia is less satisfied with her work in the Netherlands. In 2001, she makes a decision and starts serving through an organization called "Diensten Over Grenzen" (DOG / ICCO) and Personnel Overseas Cooperation Agreement (PCA) and is working fulltime as a development worker in Nicaragua. Since then Saskia lives in Chinandega and besides the many duties she does voluntary for El Arbol and the Rotary Club Chinandega she studied Rural Education at the University of Leon. She holds her Master Degree since 2013.


Organization in the Netherlands

The current organization of El Arbol consists of 6 members:

  • Saskia van Vuuren, chair
  • Annelies van Weezel, vice-chair
  • Jeanine Vermeulen, secretary
  • Hans Snabel, treasurer
  • Marijke van Roij, boardmember
  • Merel Knipping, boardmember 

Other volunteers of the foundation are:

  • Marianne Kemps, educational specialist
  • Marianne Nieuwenhuis, psychologist
  • Peter Kenninck, webmaster

Local management in Nicaragua

  • Saskia van Vuuren
  • Felix Almendares - financials & youthcare
  • David Antonio Berrios - Education & voluntering
  • Juan Alfonso Corea Bravo - Medical care & youthcare
  • Dionisio Moya - Education & Culture


Other volunteers of the foundation are:

  • Elisa Olivares, Garden architect
  • Eng. Emilio Romero, forest engineer
  • Rolando Francisco Gonzales Molieri, biologist
  • Lic. Xiomara Salgado, social development specialist
  • Ronny Josue Martinez Gonzalez, medical docter
  • Nathalia Sanchez, student healthcare & soccertrainer
  • Rubi Morales, furniture maker
  • Carlos Rene Cruz, biologist

Foundation El Arbol legal & financial

Chamber of Commerce no. 41195144

IBAN/SEPA Bankaccountnumber: NL09INGB0007787115

RSIN(Legal Person Information Number) : 807427391 


To read our last annual financial statement click   here

El Arbol Foundation in Nicaragua is officially registered at the Ministry of Interior under no. 4286. Also we are registered in the Sysong system at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Nicaragua.



In case you have a complaint about Foundation El Arbol Foundation, its procedures, its board members or volunteers, 
we would like to hear from you. We will do everything we can to take your issues into consideration.

You can send complaints via the contactform on our contact page. 
You will receive a response as soon as possible.