In 1996 Biak island on the northern coast of West Papua in Indonesia suffered a tsunami after an earthquake of 8.2 hit the area. It led to massive devastation including 166 deaths and caused damage worth $4.2 million. Thankfully this mangrove buffer zone I wrote about previously, did go some way to mitigating the impact saving very many lives but it suffered enormous devastation as a result. This then is the story one mans' mission to support the hero mangrove trees of his community.
Teachers Planting Trees
David Sawek, a local teacher, was a member of one of the communities affected by this natural disaster. He witnessed the tsunamis' effects on people and trees first hand, and in 2008 he and a small group of his fellow teachers decided to start planting trees themselves in order to reforest the island and restore the costal mangroves.
Eight years later in 2016 our tree planting partner, who pays local villagers to plant trees, came to the island to help with reforestation efforts. The dedication of David and his group of local teachers had paid off as they were approached and co-opted into the paid scheme.
Mother and Baby In Peril
A year later in 2017, David’s wife experienced complications during the birth of their second child that jeopardised the life of both of them. He hired a rental car that could transport them to the public hospital in the city where his wife could safely give birth.
David used his entire savings to pay for the hospital bill and the rental car to and from the hospital. He said that if it were not for his employment in the new paid tree planting scheme, his job as a teacher would not have provided enough money for the very costly emergency C-section surgery his wife needed.
Luckily, with the wages David had saved from his tree planting work, he was able to pay for the life-saving operation. He realised without those savings, he would have lost everything that was most important to him.
Partnership of Trees and People on Biak Island
In return for his dedication to trees and people with his hard work tree planting for all those years, the trees in turn saved the life of his wife and child.
This is the beauty of reviving, restoring and renewing our ancient and sacred connections with trees. By celebrating, planting and protecting trees, woods and forests that will save our ecosystem we save ourselves. You could say we reap tomorrow what we sow today.
It is passionate hard-working tree lovers like David that are reforesting the world and helping to create a Green and Growing CommuniTree.
AST (Ancient and Sacred Trees) is proud to be supporting trees, people and communities by funding tree planting on Biak Island. If you would like to support people like David in this essential life saving work you can buy an ecard, certificate or teeshirt from AST.
I hope you have enjoyed reading this inspiring story. It just proves we can all do our bit to help save trees and be a Green and Growing CommuniTree.
AST is developing a range of Free resources for schools and colleges, please use the contact form to get in touch with your school email.