Terre Rouge village: A world to another
"You'll never walk alone"
At the “Terre Rouge” village it seems you walk in a region that is far away from the city, but the distance is only some kilometers. The whole village is built from fragile materials. It reminds you a war-zone. The houses are usually only with one room and at least a family as inhabitants. The houses aren't always provided with a toilet and electricity. In addition, it's quite common to the neighbors to share the water or electricity as they can't afford alone the financial weight of the bills. The furniture in the houses is very old and sometimes broken, so machines as fridge or televisions need more electricity, which leads to the more expensive bills. Also the structures of the houses don’t protect people from weather phenomenon, like rain and of course cyclones.
Around 100 persons live in that village, but there are more in the same or worse condition in other areas. Nobody knows exactly the general data and the population in these villages neither exist statistics for these. In addition, more than the majority of the population in the cities that live in proper houses has no idea about the situation and the problems that face every day the inhabitants of this kind of villages. Few people know and few people care about it. The existence of these villages probably is against the interests of the projection of one perfect image for the touristic paradise.
Furthermore, it can be noticed another kind of problem in this land. One aspect of this problem is the ownership of the land and the other is the unemployment or the impermanent jobs of these people that leads to the poverty. However, to understand better the situation it is better to walk with us in this village through some of the discussions we had with the inhabitants.
The first woman we met and accepted to talk with us was madam Malee:” I have been living here with my family for 2 years. It used to be a state land, but 6-7 years ago it was bought from a person and I rend it from him. We don’t have access to water and electricity in this house neither toilet, so we go to take the water from my niece’s house that is nearby. We can’t afford them. I take a pension and my son and partner work when they find one job.”
As we were walking more people wanted to talk with us. The second woman had a lease agreement with the government and she owns the land, but after 99 years she or her children have to return it to the state’s hands. They have access to water and electricity, but sometimes they can’t afford them so they get cut.
As all the houses are very close between them and the news are spread easily, another woman welcomed us to her backyard and started to explain her condition: “I own this land. We don’t have electricity and water as they are disconnected. We take water from neighbors. Only my husband works, but he hasn’t a fixed job. I have 3 children.” In the little yard were the clothes that were laid out to dry, a small path with unstable rocks and a bit of grass. The children were out too, as they were curious about what was happening. The youngest one was Loa, he is five. Julie was playing with him trying to show to him how to shoot pictures with her camera. He shot some good ones. He gave her as an exchange while they were playing his own game that was a little piece of plastic stuck with a piece of a cable. She smiled.
Another family had to face a more difficult situation. The person who is the owner of the land where they are inhabitants, lives in England but he will return the next month so he want back the land and the family has nowhere to go. Thus they will probably split to some houses of relatives. This house had no access to water, sanitation and electricity too.
In other cases, families told us that they are paying cooperatively the bills of water and electricity with other neighbors.
Furthermore, there are a lot of cases like these. Families live in houses without the access in basic human rights. Water is a part of the right to life according to the international Human Rights. They can’t pay, so water is cut. Sanitation has huge gaps, because there aren’t septic tanks or even toilet in some houses. Education is a human right as well, but they can’t provide the children with lunch for school, so some children don’t go to school. Maybe this could be judged as a bad prioritization, but this is a lack of the general education and a lack of the society as well.
During the rainy season the conditions of living become harder as these fragile houses have a lot of halls and not always electricity, so that automatically increases the vulnerability of people to the diseases as well.
NGOs are trying to help giving at the beginning of each year school uniforms to children or other clothes. Furthermore, every 3 months are organized sport competitions and games for the children of the area. In addition sometimes NGOs help with some construction works. However, the results aren’t very satisfactory as the conditions that these people live can be characterized from a lag of fundamental rights.
In conclusion, the biggest problem maybe is caused by the indifference or the acknowledge of people about social and environmental problems of their country. Different worlds can coexist in the same region.
While we were walking we saw on the wall one phrase. It was written: “You’ll never walk alone”. We felt strong feelings. We didn’t know in what exactly it referred to…to the solidarity between people, to hope, to God or to the close environment of living that in fact doesn’t permit you to walk alone?