Judith’s Story

Posted on Oct 30, 2013

Judith Nsiah processing fish

Judith Nsiah processing fish

In August I received a letter from Judith Nsiah in Ghana. Judith is forty two years old with five children aged between ten and eighteen. When the Sinohydro Corporation of China built a new Hydroelectric Dam where they lived she was one of 250 families obliged to relocate from their homes. She eventually won compensation from the Government and used the money to start a thriving smoked fish business. This is Judith’s story.

When I was first told we had to leave our homes, I felt reluctant and uncomfortable. My people had lived in Akanyarkrom for over fifty years – it was painful moving from my roots.

Though government officials informed us in 2007 about the project and possible relocation in 2009, we did not understand what was involved until in February 2011, we were asked to move. We were told we would be paid compensation for the destruction to our crops and farmland, but they did not give us details.

About 900 farmers were affected as their farmland was taken away to pave way for the project. I felt really sad losing my farmland which was the source of my livelihood – my family depended mostly on the crops produced on the farm.

Life became unbearable because now we had to buy everything, including food. Even though we had been assigned new farmland, it was not as fertile as our land before, and we are restricted to one acre. We could no longer afford to pay the school fees of our daughter.
I was excited when ActionAid, in 2011, organised a community forum regarding the relocation. 120 people attended and we learned a lot of useful information including the need for timely payment of compensation from the government, and the need (for them) to provide basic amenities….ActionAid educated us on the sensible use and investment of the compensation.

Almost all the 900 farmers have received compensation from the government. The packages depended on the farm size and types of crops lost. Houses have been built for people at the relocated sites. I received GH 3,200 (£1,100) for my farmland where I grew cashew, yam and groundnuts.

….I have started selling smoked fish. This business does not require huge capital and it can be managed with my other roles as a mother and small scale farmer. Many women have heeded the advice of ActionAid and invested their compensation money: 67 women are also in the smoked fish business. Many people come from near and far to buy fish. I go to the riverside to buy from the fishermen, process by smoking, and retail to consumers. I have purchased a wire and built a mud oven to help me with the smoking.

I’ve been able to renew the family’s health insurance and to send our eldest daughter to Senior High School. I am happy to say that I used GH 300 (£100) to pay her school fees.
Judith finished her letter by saying from the photo you can see I am full of smiles and hope and Meda ase! (Thank you).

I received Judith’s letter as a supporter of Action Aid’s Next Step programme. The Next Step is a development of their successful Child Sponsorship programme – but rather than sponsoring a specific child and community, Action Aid use the money where they see the greatest need. It costs £1 a day to help seed real change in the lives of people like Judith. That’s less than half a cup of Costa Coffee.

As Judith’s story shows, Action Aid’s approach to empower the poor and disenfranchised is practical, political and positive. And it works. It’s a philosophy The Millione Foundation shares when we finance schools in Sierra Leone. In partnership with Action Aid we seek to plant educational seeds that the local people can grow.

Click here to find out more about Child Sponsorship and the Next Step with Action Aid.

One Comment

  1. Stunning story jerry and very inspiring, will share with the kids and donate,
    Hope this finds you well
    Sara and Simon

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