Mrs Thu is taking on the companies causing immense damage to the environment

EMPOWER is Cord’s project which builds peace by training Women Environmental Defenders in Southeast Asia. But what does this really mean in practice? Here’s a wonderful example of how this project works and the incredible difference your support makes!

Mrs Cil Thu is 27 and lives in Cil Mup village in Dam Rong district, Lam Dong province, Vietnam. She is married with two sons.

Early last year, a group of companies built fish farms near Mrs Thu’s village. This could have been good news for the community with job opportunities and local investment. But in fact, it caused terrible damage and disruption. The companies devastated the environment by cutting down trees and mining. They did this to obtain construction materials. They also acquired land near a waterfall when expanding their fish farms and in doing so, polluted the local rivers. This ecological disaster would have been bad enough, but for Mrs Thu’s community, whose way of life and income depends on the forest and rivers, it was catastrophic. The community was left powerless, fearful and vulnerable. 

Unfortunately, this scenario is all too familiar in Vietnam and throughout Southeast Asia. Companies, with government backing, cause immense damage to the environment and to the lives of Indigenous People. The companies’ profits rise, and the communities sink deeper into poverty. 

Thanks to your faithfulness and support, hundreds of Women Environmental Defenders across Southeast Asia have received training through our EMPOWER project. They’ve been equipped with the skills and confidence they need, for situations just like this. Mrs Thu was trained in effective communication, advocacy, public speaking and learned about human rights. Your prayers and donations meant that she became a powerful and effective leader, ready to tackle this injustice:

“I used what I learned through the EMPOWER project to lead peaceful negotiations with the companies. I presented them with the evidence – photographs and videos – of the pollution they were causing. I knew they needed to have agreements in place before their work started, about its effect on the environment and local people. I asked to see these documents. At first they refused. But we continued to talk and negotiate and eventually they promised to stop polluting. And amazingly, one of the companies even built a road for our village!”

This is a great example of what can happen when people know their rights and have the confidence to defend them. It’s also a wonderful demonstration of why peaceful approaches, based on building relationships are so effective. So often, fear and rage can dominate these kinds of situations. In contrast, Cord’s approach, made possible by your love and generosity, is all about growing trust and understanding. And time and again, this approach proves to be effective!

Because of you, Mrs Thu has developed into an amazing leader. This is remarkable because in her culture, women are not expected to take such roles. Mrs Thu has not only been successful in these negotiations, but she’s inspired lots more women, and men, to become active in protecting their environment and land. She’s organised them to monitor the companies’ activities and to make sure they comply with their Corporate Social Responsibility standards.

Thank you for raising up Women Environmental Defenders all across Southeast Asia who are committed to their communities and the beautiful habitat where they live. Thank you for standing with them as they bravely and peacefully challenge injustice. With your help, thousands more Indigenous People can look forward to peaceful, pollution free and prosperous futures.

Please help create more stories of hope and healing by making a donation TODAY

Cord’s vision is a world where all people can live life to the full, in peace.
Peace means hope and healing for victims in safe and stable societies.
Peace means freedom, and people reaching their potential.
Help restore peace so that people can prosper.

Mr. Lo Duy Phan

Lo’s patrol is peacefully protecting his people and preserving the forest 

Cord is supporting Lo and hundreds like him, ensuring peace and freedom for Indigenous communities throughout Southeast Asia.
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