Planting Democracy Seeds-Part 2
Rattanak Mondoul-Battambang Province-North West Cambodia
“My first husband died when he was just 25 years old. We had two children. We came to this part of the forest over 10 years ago. It was nothing but land mines. We were too desperate for land. Our young children watched their children blown up by a land mine”.
“I was clearing the forest and there it was: 3 land mines. I was so terrified, I was paralyzed. I will never forget that day”.
“The rich man tells me that I do not own this land, because I am too young. I say to him that I came with my father to plant these mango trees. I crossed this creek with my father every day. I know every parcel of this land. Do you?”
As I listen to this group of 40 farmers talking about their desperate search for land to cultivate, I hear their burning need for justice. For over a decade, they have farmed these plots of land collectively and have managed to build a community and survived year after year from the crops.
Today, rich and powerful men claim that every single plot of land in this community is theirs. They have the backing of the new village chief and the commune chief. They are protected by police and local authorities.
I say to the villagers:
Tell your stories. Tell the truth. That is your power.
Stand up together. That is your power.
Speak with one voice. That is your power.
The rich men do not have your power.
“Land is life- land is hope. ” a song from the messenger band. A group of young women who put justice into songs.