In 2006, a significant area of this region was deforested by the palm oil industry. The local population is an ancient culture which still maintains many traditional practices and beliefs. The loss of arable land and decreased hunting grounds was devastating. Without protection from the government or alternative opportunities, many suffered as their income sources suddenly evaporated. When World Partners became aware of this situation, we developed a project which would lift the community spiritually and provide job opportunities. The project involved collecting the waste wood left by the big wood companies and transforming it into garden tiles.
Initially, negotiations were made with the owners of a vacant sawmill in the area to use it for making products to sell to garden shops in Europe. The owners agreed, and many enthusiastic people from the community were employed collecting waste wood and producing small planks to make 50×50 cm tiles at the sawmill. The tiles were constructed out of a durable hardwood called Bankirai, suitable for outdoor flooring and decks, and secured with stainless steel screws before being packaged and shipped out.
About 30 people from the community were employed in this project. Additionally, we worked with a local pastor who used the project as an occasion to preach the gospel within the village. Through this ministry, many came to faith in Christ and were freed from fear and spiritual slavery.