MocokSaturday, June 20th, 2009
“Mocok” is a common expression used by communities formerly displaced during the conflict in Aceh who are now living in North Sumatera. Mocok or mocok-mocok could often be heard during interviews for the JRS IDP mapping project in North Sumatra in formerly displaced communities in Barak Induk, Sei Lepan Sub-District, Langkat District; in Sei Minyak, Besitang Sub-District, Langkat District; in Barabaraunte, Batangtoru Sub-District, Sidempuan District; in Marjandi (Embong) Village, Panombean Panei Sub-District, Simalungun District; in Karanganom Village, Raya Besi Village and Simpang Raya Village, Panei Tonga Sub-District, Simalungun District.
Mocok-mocok was the most common answer to the question on how people earned a living after being displaced from Aceh years ago. Mocok-mocok is one of the ways to cover the basic needs of a family such as like food, clothes, a house and basic health care. Other activities such as farming or trading are just minor jobs adding to a family’s income. What is the meaning of the word mocok-mocok that plays such a central role in the lives of formerly displaced people.
From the field experiences, mocok-mocok can have many meanings. Mocok or mocok-mocok refers to a person who has no permanent income. This person usually does not have any specific skills. It also refers to casual labor opportunities. The wages vary depending on the work load and the employer. The types of work, length of working hours are not always the same. There is no guaranty for the laborer to get employed again the next day. In other words, mocok means uncertainty of income.
“Uncertainty” is the dominant character of displaced communities living in North Sumatera. Land ownership becomes a very sensitive issue for 520 families or 1700 people in Barabaraunte, Barak Induk and Sei Minyak since they hold no legal documents or land titles for their land. These communities are in potential risk of being displacement again in the near future, Many community members try to avoid the word displacement, “pengusiran”, in their daily conversations.
This uncertainty also affects the children of the community. With primary school being the highest level of accessible and affordable education for children for example in Barabaraunte and Sei Minyak, the next generation is likely to be dependent on the same sources of income as their parents. Worst then that many children in school age do not even go to primary school but join the mocok-mocok already at early age to support their parents. In places like Barak Induk children have access to a community-founded school in the settlement but face challenges in accessing higher education, as the government does not acknowledge certificates from this school. Children have to take national exams at the school in a neighboring village in order to get a legal certificate. Again this uncertainty about the value of education does not encourage parents to pay for their children’s school.
On the other hand land titles are an important issue. Most members of the displaced communities in four villages of Simalungan District (Marjandi Village, Karanganom Village, Raya Besi Village and Simpang raya Village) managed to secure ownership of their land by using the termination fund from the government to buy land and build simple houses. They live and mingle with the local people and experience no discrimination in accessing public facilities, such as education, health care, administration and enjoy the right to participate in local affairs. Some of them live in houses provided by a plantation. For those people it is an issue to not being able to gather enough capital to start up their own plantation or business to support their family needs. Mocok-mocok is then chosen from time to time to cover for the needs of the own plantation or business.
For communities whose live depends on irregular sources of income the shortage of employment possibilities then can potentially lead to further migration with families deciding to move to areas where they can find work. Dumai, Riau and Jambi are some destinations that promise to improve the quality of their lives. A question then arises: Is it only uncertainty that arises from the mocok as a way of life or can it provide an alternative to people left with nothing after their displacement?
Even though people face uncertainty because of mocok, displaced communities that fled Aceh during the conflict at least gained a certainty to not having to return to Aceh. Many dreams stopped with their displacement and many of the people do not want to recall their experiences. Some even tried to burry all the memories. Only a few went back to look for their property in Aceh but most of them tryed to sell their assets to locals. However, mocok is a way of life, a technique to survive by dealing with the difficult situation uprooted people face and one way to struggle for a live in peace with all the bitter experiences from the past.
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