Monica’s Voice

Mrs. Monica Edy

Mrs. Monica Edy Interviewed on February 18th, 2016 at Kaselok Village/ Solwara Skul. Canopy Watch Workshop

Interview Transcription/Translation from Tok Pisin to English

I have come here to speak for the mothers of New Hanover. 

We are “mama-­‐ graun” (a matrilineal people) I am seeing this damage to our land and see that our children will have no place to live. Our forests, gardens—the trees have been damaged. We use all of these to live and build our homes.   

I am speaking for the mothers of New Hanover. I went to the forests to see, and it is all being cleared out. There are no more big trees.  And I cried; I felt a sadness.

 

I look at all our children and grandchildren and ask, where will they all live? Because this land of ours is being controlled by foreigners.   

God created all of us to live on the land.  He didn’t create us to live in the sea.  Can I find land and build a home for my children in the sea? No.  God created us to live on the land. I carried my children and raised them up on this ground, so they could then work upon it.

Now I have come here because I see it like this:  When our children grow up, they will not have a good place to live. Why?  Because this SABL has divided up our island and our children living within that space are now being controlled by foreigners.  

Canopy Watch organized an expedition up the Min River to witness the extent of logging in Central New Hanover

I have come here because I want to voice my concern on behalf of the mothers and children. Because I have been to the forest and seen the damage.

The water is damaged.  The forest is damaged.  There is so much clear-­‐felling now.

Where will I work my garden to feed my children?  Where will I get food to take to the market; to get money for my children’s school fees and lunches?

So now I have come here to say what I have seen; why I am upset and angry: to get help for all the mothers.  It is our ground.

You fathers?  It is not the father’s ground.  No.  We in New Hanover are matrilineal.  We come from the ground.

God created us with a purpose: to live and work the land.…to get married, and as a couple, to work and raise and provide for our children.

If the ground is damaged, where will we raise our families?  Now if we plan these cash crops, what kind of land will that be? Will it benefit our families? The children?

Logging road in Central New Hanover 2012

That is why I have come here: because I am upset and want to help the mothers and the families of New Hanover. Because God didn’t create us for nothing.  No.  We have a purpose—a work.

Before, in the time of our ancestors, and when we were young too, the ground was good. The trees were there; we worked the gardens and the harvest was good.  We harvested food, brought it to the market, and got some money.

 

Now the ground is damaged.  When we plant tapioca or taro or banana or sweet potato, it looks like (that skinny tree branch there). 

Where is the water?

There is oil in the water, so how can these crops get good water?

Back then, we were fortunate.  Time was good.  Now, like we have been saying, the water is damaged, the ground is damaged. We are suffering. Where will we get money? The fathers and mothers are fighting amongst themselves about money. We are angry with each other because we cannot find enough money for our children’s school fees.

Before, a basket of garden food was 2 kina, or 1 kina only.  Now we can buy it for 20 kina.  The food is scarce so the price has gone higher.

And the school fees have risen higher too.  For my child who is in grade twelve at Manggai High School, we must pay 400 kina per year, and that is no longer being subsidized by the government.