Monday, October 25, 2021

All in a day’s work at grandpa’s oil palm plantation

Nor Syazwani Norazman works just as hard as any of her male relatives and enjoys the time spent with family.

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Her grandfather’s plantation is among the acres of oil palm that stretch out across Felda Pasoh 4, where he has worked since 1979.

Syazwani’s day begins early in the morning when she accompanies her grandfather in his old car to begin work at the plantation, their tools and equipment stowed safely in the back.

Once they arrive, she gets out, eager to begin work.

Together with her cousins and uncles, she heads off into the plantation ready for a day of hard work.

Her petite frame belies the heavy loads she lifts on a regular basis.

Now 20, she has worked at the plantation since she was 15 and is accustomed to the physical labour involved.

She is also well able to handle the wheelbarrows filled with heavy oil palm fruit harvested from the trees.

The fruits are transported by wheelbarrow to a clearing where they are then collected by a lorry.

Syazwani stands tiny but undeterred against the massive backdrop of oil palm trees at the plantation.

She looks up to her aunt, Siti Noraishah Masran (left), who has worked at the plantation for years.

The fruits are loaded onto the waiting lorry which takes them from the plantation to be processed at a nearby factory. Today, Syazwani and her family have collected some three tonnes of fruit.

It’s a family affair, and they are proud of what they achieve working together.

An aerial view of a hut nestled among the oil palm trees where they rest from their work.

From the youngest to the oldest, they gather to eat, drink and rest.

They eat their meals on a raised platform, where curtains sway in the breeze and a makeshift cradle hangs securely on a beam overhead.

There are also moments of free time during which Syazwani and her relatives sit and chat. The black tank behind them holds their supply of clean water.

Syazwani also has enough time each day to help her grandmother hang out the laundry while the rest of the family go about their chores as well.

When night falls, the family rests for the day, sometimes watching a little television and enjoying the breeze from the electric fan which, like the TV, runs on a generator hooked up to the hut.

Syazwani and her younger siblings sleep on the upper level of the hut, where they can peer over the edge at their relatives down below.

In the morning, thick mist envelops the hut and the plantation.

In the kitchen area, Syazwani helps prepare breakfast for the family, and makes some hot tea for her grandfather.

They eat their meals together before scattering to begin their daily chores.

Today, only her uncle heads out to the plantation. Syazwani and her grandparents are off to town to pick up some daily essentials.

Any trip to town is an exciting affair, and Syazwani takes special pains with her outfit, carefully applying a little make-up as well.

She helps her grandmother straighten her headscarf before the small party sets out.

In town, they select the things they need which they pay for using the money they earn from the plantation.

This is the one of the only stores in the small town which sells the day-to-day items and food they need.

After their grocery run, they stop for a quick bite where Syazwani spends some treasured time with her mother and step-father who join them for the meal.

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