The village of Golden Grove, West Coast Berbice seemed quiet and the people friendly but although they had concerns some were too shy to speak about them.
Noel Downes, a drainage and irrigation worker was one of the few outspoken residents. He was happy for his village to be featured in this newspaper.
“It’s a long time now that Golden Grove needs to be developed,” he said. “Some of the streets and drains still have to be laid out properly and built. They [the authorities] should take advantage of the dry weather now to get the work done.” He said many persons are unable to build homes because the trucks cannot access their land to transport building materials. According to him, the main access dams to the burial ground need to be concreted because when it rains vehicles cannot traverse the dam. “We have to fetch the dead from the roadway down to the back; we need to respect the dead…”
Located about 50 miles from Georgetown, Golden Grove is flanked by Bush Lot to the east and Lovely Lass to the west. Patches of swamp, from heavy rainfall just before this newspaper’s
visit one morning, were observed on vacant plots.
Janis Fraser, vendor at the Lachmansingh Primary School at Bush Lot village was making her second trip to school on her bicycle when this newspaper caught up with her. She had already sold the first set of snacks and had returned home for more. The mother of five said her youngest child, a boy, 19, is in the police force, while a daughter is in the army and another is a teacher.
She wants to see the village developed but was happy that they enjoy light, water and telephone services. She said too that the residents were “living loving; we have no problem in the village.”
This newspaper first approached a woman at her home as she was nursing her baby, and another who operates an internet café nearby. They were both friendly but unwilling to be featured.
A few houses away, three women, two from nearby were sitting in a yard chatting. They mentioned that jobs were needed for the youths and that some parts of the village were low and needed developing. Residents also said a resource centre is needed so persons can be exposed to computer studies and other skills training.
The children attend school in villages such as Bush Lot, Fort Wellington and Belladrum. Residents seek health care at the Bush Lot Health Centre or at the Fort Wellington or Mahaicony hospital. The village seemed even quieter with the children away at school and most of the male residents out in the backdam.
Some of the residents are employed as clerks, teachers, labourers and some of the youths have left the area to get into gold-mining in the interior. Others earn their living as rice, cattle and poultry farmers.
The village has some small businesses including a salon, barber shop, snackette and the Watergate Disco. A large rice mill is also operating in Golden Grove, but the employers as well as the employees are from other areas.
This newspaper was told that residents are unable to engage in large-scale cash crop farming because of cattle destroying their produce. They are limited to planting kitchen gardens in their yards. They are concerned though that the millers are dumping the paddy shells at the back of the village and they “don’t think that is a good idea.” They acknowledged that persons are glad for the shells to use in their gardens but a lot is still being dumped and soon it can “take over other people land.” Dust from the mill is also affecting them.
Downes, one of the poultry farmers proudly showed off his ducks to this newspaper. He sells them to persons in and out of the village, especially during the holiday season. A huge tamarind tree in his yard was bearing in abundance and Downes said his wife would normally “shell out” the fruit and sell it at the Rosignol market.
Most of the youths engage in playing cricket and football in the playground in the nearby Lovely Lass Village. But Downes said the playground needs to be upgraded and a pavilion built so persons can sit and watch the game.
This newspaper also caught up with cattle farmer, Kevin Williamson as he was delivering milk to his customers at Bush Lot. He would wake early in the mornings and milk his cows before taking them to the backdam to graze. After that he would ride around on his bicycle to sell the milk. Williamson would also spend time in his kitchen garden in the yard when he returns home.
Earl Webster operates a barber shop in front of his home. He said the shop which was established in 2009 was much smaller, and that he recently extended it. He attended Bush Lot Secondary and then moved to the Government Technical Institute where he is currently pursuing studies in electrical installation. He also teaches part time at the Hopetown Practical Instruction Centre.
Dorothy ‘Melda’ Peters, Chairman of the Union/Naarstigheid Neighbourhood Democratic Council said she is “pushing for the village to be developed.” Peters who served as chairman for the past year and as a councillor for 18 years, said “work is being undertaken on some of the streets on the northern section and on some drains.” She wished that more work could be done and at a faster pace, and urged residents to pay up their rates and taxes.
She said officials from the Mahaica-Mahaicony-Abary/ Agricultural Development Authority were “supposed to help to develop some of the streets… They have the machineries” but they have not come forward as yet.
Regarding cattle destroying the crops, Peters said she tried to work out an arrangement with residents to have the animals graze in the backdam and for the cash crop farming to occupy land “by the waterside.” She had “even assured them that the place would be fenced but they were not willing to assist. It seems as though the young people are not interested in farming.”
She recalled that the village which was surveyed in 1846 was a swamp. She is “trying to have it surveyed again but now it has to be occupational survey because everybody just occupying a portion without knowing what exactly belongs to them.”
Although they are entitled to a portion, their ancestors died and left no transport and they have no proof of ownership. Persons did not have anywhere to build and just occupied anywhere. One
man, she said has occupied the middle walk. The NDC has to find a spot to divert and pass the middle walk. Another person who built close to the street has filled up a dam.
The playground, located at Lovely Lass and the burial ground in Golden Grove is shared with the residents of both villages. Peters said plans are in place for a pavilion to be built on the playground.
When she is not busy at the council, she is busy planting and tending to her kitchen garden in her backyard.