Divided between the revolt and the stress of everything I had heard from community representatives in their various presentations from the very first hours of our strategic meeting, I embarked on the field visit. This discovery of the field allowed me in a concrete way to see, examine and evaluate SIAT’s presence in Côte d’Ivoire.
During our expedition as the vehicle was crossing the forest and rubber plantations, I asked our guide, one of the victims: “Sinan, is there a secondary road, another exit? “With hesitation, he stammered an answer that I almost didn’t understand, adding: ” sister, are you afraid?” Indeed I was afraid; because we were in an unknown and conflictual area, the flight of time was not a concern for us, we were a strong delegation including people from various countries (Nigeria, Ghana, Burundi, Côte d’Ivoire) and representatives of religious congregations without any protection. The only protection we had was this inner strength to go to our brothers in difficulty who have been crying in tears since the beginning of our meeting, “we would rather die than give up our land”! In front of all this scenery, I felt responsible as an Ivorian and prayed inside for the good progress of our visit.
Sinan had just understood my feelings. I smiled at him. My fellow expedition sisters Veronica and Odile laughed. Yes, therapeutic laughter was necessary in such circumstances!
The visit to Famienkro, Timbo and Koffessou-Groumania was a moving experience for me. I touched the Ivorian reality with my finger, I saw the suffering of these populations, the injustice experienced by some of my brothers disguised as a certain development. I have seen men and women exhausted from fighting; some waiting for the providential return of a missing relative, others mourning the horrible death of one of their own… In the face of this violation of law, I admired their faith in the future and their courage to continue the struggle no matter what. “Throw us in jail, walk on our bodies, we won’t give up our lands” they say!
A message to the consecrated woman that I am to show my solidarity to all the victims of injustice and to accompany them in their struggle.
Sr Chantal Lucie BOUA, OLA