Across rural Cambodia, thousands of families feel insecure in their own homes. They live in fear and uncertainty because, since 2000, almost 800,000 people have been forcefully evicted from their homes.
In Eastern Cambodia, the privatisation of the local rubber plantation not only removed this communities livelihoods but threatened the loss of the homes these families had lived in for generations.
The community spent seven years fighting this injustice; but they had no success. Rather than allowing the conflict to escalate, Cord equipped Vanna with the skills and confidence to work peacefully with the local government and to develop a relationship of trust with them.
Now 434 families in this community have secured the land titles that protect their homes.
Srey Neang is 25 and lives with her husband and two children in the community. Her land was passed to her by her mother who died when she was a child. Srey Neang was one of those who were told to leave in 2008. She was just a child, but even at that age she felt that moving was wrong; how could she know that the new place would be secure?
Now, a mother with her own children, she relied heavily on the community leaders but she was a willing participant in whatever way she could help. Their strength inspired her. At first Srey Neang was afraid, she didn’t know what would happen in the future, but she listened to the community representatives like Soucheng and Srei Oun and understood that the community had the right to live in their homes, and that they should fight.
During one of the demonstrations, Srey Neang felt scared as the police closed in around the group carrying electric batons and threatened to fire water cannons to disperse them. But she had confidence because they acted peacefully and the community worked together as a strong team.
“So for me and my family, we are so happy to get this land title. I think that my family will have a brighter future.”
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.