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Cecelia Weah’s Testimony About Their Land Struggle With Maryland Oil Palm Plantation

It took us a long period of time to get what the company promised to do. MOPP came to our communities since 2015. Initially, they did not have any community meeting along with the women and children, but rather with the chiefs only. The elders and chiefs would say, “this is not women discussion. Women do not have any part in this discussion so they don’t have to sit among us.” Then we would go off to find other things to do. The elders and chiefs sat with the company to discuss, and today, women and children are the victim.

For me, I now live in the plantation. Where I live now is not my land. I was evicted from my own land where I had two houses. My younger sister and I lived together on this land. Our villages were full of life. We planted and farmed so that there was enough for all. And our children were schooled from the produce we sold in the market. I am not educated, but I know how to write my name.

Constantly women were excused from the meetings our chiefs and elders held with the company on grounds that we were women and had less or no contribution. The company convinced our chiefs to sell the land. The next thing I noticed was that the company was having secret meeting with the Yanbo people. I managed to get details about the meeting and told my people that we there is trouble ahead. Many people in my village compromise this. They did not take heed.

I then took sick and went to Harper for treatment. In my absence the company begin clearing. They cleared my two houses, toilets and well, along with my farm. And all they had to compensate me for all the damages they have caused was US$160. They told us to go to Pleebo, to leave our motherland and go settle on a strange land. After they have turned our villages, homes, and settlement into plantation, they mandated us to live elsewhere. We struggled with this until SESDev came to our rescue. SESDev told us about women’s rights in land matters. They told us about FPIC and how to negotiate with companies that have interest in our land.”