In 2008, after over two decades working for and living in housing provided by the rubber plantation, the plantation was privatised and over half of the community were forced to leave their jobs and the land on which they lived.
There was no compensation, no alternative place to live, no land available to build new homes – in fact, no way of supporting and housing entire families who were faced with homelessness and unemployment.
So, Soucheng organised her community to protest this unfair displacement. She spent 9 years fighting this battle. It was a slow and frustrating process. She was offered bribes to discontinue her activity. But this only made her more determined. It was not until Cord began working with Soucheng and others in her community in 2015, that she began to see progress. The training allowed her to understand the power of respectful and polite interactions. She was persistent, but not aggressive, and helped to motivate the increasingly despondent community. The collective pressure began to pay off and authorities were forced to investigate.
Although it remained a slow process, Soucheng saw how nonviolent, respectful negotiation reaps the greatest benefit. In April, the Land Management Minister announced the granting of 434 land titles. This represents a major step forward, however the fight continues. There are families yet to be granted titles to the lands upon which they have raised their families and built their lives. Soucheng and others continue to face intimidation because of their choice to bravely act on behalf of their community.
The story of this community’s fight will feature in our upcoming BBC Radio 4 Appeal, presented by Dan Snow on the 26th and 30th of November. To find out more and to read more stories from this community, please click here.