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Articles & Stories

Tuesday, August 18, 2015

Building Papua New Guinea one board at a time

By Jesse Pryor

Our family moved to Samban Village, in the East Sepik Province of Papua New Guinea (PNG) in 2004 to work with the Ap Ma people. Our dreams of building a permanent church building, medical and educational facilities here in the swamps hinged upon our ability to acquire a portable sawmill to provide the timber that cannot be bought in our remote location.


The LT15 was the right fit.  From Indianapolis, IN to the jungles of PNG the LT15 has continued to provide OIPNG (Outreach International of Papua New Guinea) with quality building materials in a way that is sustainable, responsible, and conscious of the fragility of our ecosystem.  

A video presentation of the Pryor's ministry.

What does our LT15 mean to the people of the Ap Ma language group here in the East Sepik?   The portability and efficiency of this sawmill have made it possible to produce timber for structures such as classrooms, church buildings, cocoa dryers, clinics, houses, a library, offices, fencing and pig pens. 

In addition to the timber, no byproduct of the mill goes unused.  The sawdust is used as a source of fuel for cooking food.  The flitches and off-cuts are carved into paddles, bowls, spoons, and all sorts of tools that are used every day by our people.  Broken saw mill blades are used as knives, chisels, and thin machete’s for cutting grass! 

The sawmill is transported to where it is needed. Here, villagers welcome its coming with a parade.

The Ap Ma people are well known for their carvings, mainly their storyboards.  The local carvers carve the off cuts to sell as income for their families.  The carvers have showcased their work on the 8x8 ironwood posts in our multi-purpose meeting house.  This building preserves the Ap Ma people’s cultural heritage by chronicling the history and stories of the people.

Long before the Ap Ma people had a written language, the carving of story boards was used to preserve history and their culture. They used to carve big murals of how things came to be the way they are. The wood for this board was milled on our LT15, and were carved by my next-door neighbor. We are encouraging them to use their carving skills to supplement their income. The LT15 could one day serve as a great asset in this endeavor. 

A school made possible by using sawn timber nears completion.

The mill also initiates community development.  We never buy the trees from the local landowners.  We do an equal exchange.  We mill one tree for the landowner, and then we mill one for OIPNG projects.  Up to this point, the LT15 has provided timber for five different cocoa dryers which are essential sources of income for these subsistence villages.  In addition, several houses have been built by the different recipients of the exchange.

The rainy season brings water right to the base of the sawmill, and washes away sawdust during cutting.

Lastly our LT15 creates employment for the local men who have learned to operate, maintain, and service the saw mill. 

The sawmilling team celebrates their successful hunt.

As you can see, there are no limits to what a sawmill can do to improve the lives of the people around it.  The LT15 is fundamental to all of our building projects.  There is no way we would be as far as along to the realization of our dreams without it.

Inspired? Get involved with Jesse’s work by visiting www.oipng.com

Additional videos and photos:

Jesse Pryor and his family.

The sawmill is dismantled and transported by dugout canoe upriver to villages where timber is needed.

Local food.



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