Follow the Tree

April 15, 2014 • Philippines
Follow the Tree

A short video series shows the process of converting downed coconut trees into new houses for victims of Typhoon Yolanda.

Rebekah Price is the information officer in the Samaritan’s Purse Philippines office.

Shelter remains one of the greatest needs on the island of Leyte since Typhoon Yolanda. High winds and a powerful storm surge damaged or destroyed many homes, leaving people with little to no shelter.

Samaritan’s Purse is responding to that need by creating and distributing shelter kits. These kits include lumber, nails, tarp, and corrugated galvanized iron. Samaritan’s Purse partners with another organization for iron, sources nails, and has a stock of trademark blue tarps.

There is only one thing remaining: lumber. And lumber starts with trees.

Across Leyte, Yolanda knocked down a large number of coconut trees and damaged others. Such devastation left many residents without livelihoods. What was once a profitable grove of coconut trees now stands ragged. There is little use for the trees, except to be sold and made into lumber.

Step one for lumber production: sourcing trees. A Samaritan’s Purse crew surveyed fields to find damaged trees, spoke with landowners, and made arrangements to purchase the trees. Upon making a deal with the owner, the trees were marked for clarity for the saw teams.

Step two: send in the saws! Teams with chainsaws moved in, cutting the trees into slabs. A cash-for-work program provided locals with job opportunities in their barangays (villages). They are hired to assist in moving the planks of cut wood to the road where it’s loaded onto trucks.

Follow the tree from the field to the family with Chris Kinzer of Samaritan’s Purse as he shows this process in action. Watch the video below to see the first step.

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