What the people say about… What Orealla residents say about the difficulties of living there

On September 11, 2009, when Stabroek News visited the Amerindian village of Orealla for heritage celebrations, we asked members of the community what  they found most difficult  about living there and whether they would consider leaving. Their responses follow:
20090921julietJuliet Edwards, farmer: ‘For me the hardest thing about living in Orealla is getting money. I am almost 60 years old and I plant cassava and make casareep to sell. I am a widow and it’s very hard to make a living here and we don’t get public assistance or any other kind. Although it’s hard making enough to get by on with my farming I stay here because I love my way of life. I love farming and there isn’t anything else I’d rather do. I just wish that I could get more money for my produce.’

Neisha Vantrompe, student: ‘I like my community and for 20090921neishame this is paradise but me and my family recently moved to New Amsterdam. We didn’t want to leave but we were forced to because my dad wasn’t really getting a good job here. In fact he wasn’t getting any job here. I won’t abandon Orealla though because this will always be my home. I’m glad we left because now I get to attend high school and I know I will get a chance to be something. This year’s heritage celebration is the largest Orealla has ever seen and it’s a lot more fun that the others.’

20090921rachelRachel De Souza, student: ‘For me the worst thing about living here is the shortage of jobs and the lack of basic facilities for young people. Orealla is my home and I like it here but I can’t let sentiments limit what I can do with my life. I’ve been thinking about leaving. I need a better shot at an education and hopefully if I manage to get a scholarship then I’ll know I’m doing something and I would definitely come back and serve my community. I love living here because of the peace. I can’t remember the last time there was trouble here.’

Floyd Edwards, village councillor: ‘In these interior 20090921floydlocations we face a lot of problems. I think the most difficult part about living here is lack of access to basic necessities like potable water. We get electricity but that is only for a fixed period of time and it comes at a very expensive cost. Another thing that Orealla desperately needs is a secondary school because it is hard to see our teens leaving the reservation to attend school. I was born here and I will not leave Orealla because I have a need to stay here to see that my people make it.’

20090921roseRose Sarius, self-employed: ‘There isn’t really anything difficult about living in Orealla. I manage to make my living just fine. I make craft items and a man buys them in bulk from me to take to French Guiana. I have three children and my eldest is currently employed. I try to help myself. I left Orealla once because I thought I could find better opportunities. I lived and worked in Georgetown for about four years when one of my children started to attend high school there. I learnt then exactly why I love living in Orealla. In Orealla you are able to manage money better because there is less to spend it on.’

Carl Peneux, head teacher: ‘I was born in Orealla, 20090921carlattended the Orealla Primary School and attended secondary school in Georgetown through a Government Hinterland Scholarship. I am here now because of circumstances. My parents could not afford to keep me in Georgetown to further my education in civil engineering. I returned here, was offered a teaching job and have not left in 30 years. This is my community and I am committed to seeing it develop. I think the most difficult part of living here is the fact that there are not proper facilities for secondary education and this forces parents and children to be separated or their education is discontinued because parents can’t afford it. I think the best thing about living on the reservation is the fact that we are one big extended family and we look out for each other.’

20090921andyAndy Peneux, businessman: ‘We have one difficulty here in Orealla and that is the dictatorship of the region. I as well as many others in the village was not satisfied with the last village council election. I don’t feel that I am being allowed to exercise my democratic right. For those of us Amerindians who were born in Orealla we will remember that our way of life was peaceful. This peace is why many of us love Orealla, and all it’s beautiful sceneries keep me relaxed and keep me here.’

Anthony De Vair, village councillor: ‘The most difficult 20090921anthonything to do here in Orealla is find a job. I am 25 and I am one of the village’s councillors. I farm pineapples, bananas and plantain and although I enjoy the farming I find that it does not pay well, but here is nothing else that I can do here. I used to live and work in Suriname but I came back because I couldn’t cope because of all the bills. I got tired of living from one salary to the other so I came home.’

20090921janiceJanice Low, unemployed:
‘The hardest part about living here for me was the fact there weren’t jobs. Things are very slow in Orealla and even when you manage to earn some money it doesn’t make much sense because the money doesn’t have much value. Things are expensive here. I left here three years ago because as a young person I felt stifled and I really couldn’t stand it any more. Now I live and work on the outside of the reservation and I am doing well. I am interested in Orealla’s development and will always do what I can to help but I don’t think I can ever live here again. Yes there is peace here and beauty but they don’t make up for the other things in life that you miss.’

Rehanna King, business owner: ‘Orealla is not hard and I20090921rehanna honestly can’t tell you something difficult about living here. If you are lazy and don’t want to work, then you will punish here. There are so many things that can be done here for a living. There is farming, trading of craft items, logging, fishing and poultry rearing. But maybe I see things this way because I am older and set in my ways. I have noticed that many of our young people are leaving here to attend school and they never return. I can’t speak for them so maybe if they don’t want to come back it must mean that there are difficulties in living here that I haven’t noticed.’

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