Oftentimes, we do not realize how big a problem is until something terrible happens.
Last week we shared our story about how Eden started planting in Ethiopia after a terrible flood destroyed a village, killed 11 people, and forever altered the topography of the area. But did you know that two other deforestation-related floods have also inspired our founder, Steve Fitch, in his work with Eden?
Steve spent a considerable amount of his childhood in the Philippines and remembers playing in a lush, thick jungle. Floods were not a problem because the land was covered in forest and easily soaked up the rain. However, in the past 30 years, this has all changed. Deforestation has become a major problem and today, 98 percent of the Philippines has been deforested. In February of 2006, the Island Province of Leyte experienced torrential flooding and mudslides, killing over 1,100 people. More than 240 of those killed were young children and their teachers whose school was hit by a massive wall of water and mud http://goo.gl/kzQMr3. Eden had barely started when Steve heard of this destruction in his boyhood home and was not in a place where expansion into a new country was possible. Although he was devastated, it strengthened his resolve and commitment to the countries where Eden was working at the time. Although it has not happened yet, it is our hope that doors will be opened for Eden to someday have projects in the Philippines.
In 2008, Eden was well established with reforestation sites in Ethiopia and Madagascar, when news of another flood inspired Steve to move Eden into a new country. Roger Haskins, Bishop for the Free Methodist Church, had just returned from Haiti and showed Steve pictures of a site where a small church had once stood. Tragically, flooding during Hurricane Hanna destroyed the church and killed over 200 people who had taken refuge inside. The only thing that remained standing in the area was a small stand of trees. Historically, forest trees provide protection and refuge and had more of them still been standing around this church, the outcome may have been much different. When Steve saw the pictures he knew this area would flood again if something were not done to treat the real problem…the lack of trees. This time, Eden was positioned to do something and Eden’s work in Haiti was launched. Haiti’s deforestation is among the worst on the planet and although we have a long way to go to make a dent in the problem we are optimistic that Eden has an approach that will be effective in both planting trees and saving lives in Haiti.
Unfortunately, devastating flooding caused by radical deforestation occurs somewhere in the world on a regular basis. The sad thing is, we rarely hear about these problems unless there is a tragedy. However, Eden is determined to raise awareness about this problem and to be proactive by educating as many people as possible. And, with your help, we are providing employment to people who are committed to planting trees…millions of them…so they can provide protection and healing for both land and lives.
Thank you for your continued support!
The Eden Projects