If anyone mentions ‘Shining Town’ in Linden, they would be referring to Silvertown, which is one of Linden’s first communities. It got the name ‘Shining Town‘ because back in the early days most of the houses were made of aluminium sheets, and appeared luminous when the sun shone. Sad to say if you visit Silvertown today you would find only one of these houses still standing.
Over the years the community has experienced a total transformation. Many members of the earlier generation who lived there have either died or migrated, but Donald Deane is one those who has stayed, and has been living in Silvertown now for more than fifty years. Today he is seventy-eight years old, still very agile, with excellent vision and bursting with the desire to see his home community take a quantum leap in terms of development.
Like many others Deane’s house is made of concrete and wood, from a design which he was proud to say he created all by himself. “I had the younger bones do deh plastering but this is all my work, all my idea, I did this myself,” he said as he took us on a tour around his yard. The question was asked as to why he abandoned the historic building material. “Well you got to change with the time,” he replied.
However, he has attempted to preserve some memory of the aluminium frame of his house by using the same sheets to construct his fence. It was worth noting that though more than fifty years old, the only holes in the sheets were those made by the nails holding them together.
The days when the bauxite industry employed most people have long gone, although some still work in it, while others have gone to the interior to make their living in the gold industry. Still others are self-employed.
For the most part, neighbours in Silvertown have good relationships with one another, this newspaper was told; in fact they compliment themselves for being one of few communities where residents look out for each other‘s children. “Some places you can’t see a neighbour child doing something wrong and discipline them or even complain to their parents, [but] we do that in here,” said one resident referred to as ‘Miss Shirley.‘ There are the exceptions, however. Miss Shirley said that they are faced with the
challenge of single parenting, as well as sibling-headed and grandparent-headed homes.
She noted that in most cases children living in these circumstances fall into teenage pregnancy, drop out early from school and some even revert to the street to help support their families. The Probation and Family Welfare Unit at Linden and the Linden Care Foundation (LCF) were credited for making positive interventions in the lives of most of the affected children.
“We glad for people like Amril Beckles from Child Care, this young lady Ms Eversley; people like them girls from Linden Care who always coming and coming to check on these children, they really doing a good thing,” a resident said.
LCF is a not-for-profit non-governmental organization which has been providing care and support services to families living with and affected by HIV/AIDS and by extension deals with other associated issues. Their work is supported by international donor agencies, which have decreased recently due to the lack of
available funds and changes in policy. The Linden Fund USA is also a support arm through their adopt-a-child programme with LCF.
Several persons who agreed to speak with SN were high in praise of the Regional Democratic Council and the Government of Guyana, since over the past year the community has been provided with new roads and drains. “Before now, soon as we see the rain setting up we use to got to start putting we things high up, because you done know is flooding gon take place,” said one resident.
A few others said that because of the design of some of the drains and roads in their area they still experienced some measure of flooding when it rained, especially those residents who live in Fourth Street. “For years we deh behind them to do this road (Fourth Street), but for some reason or the other they aint doing it and we just can‘t understand why,” a resident complained. Deane is another resident of Fourth Street who had a mouthful to say about the poor management of the community by the local authorities.
The prevalence of drug use and selling by some elements in the community was noted. “Behind here is where they call the drug houses [pointing to a few small wooden houses hidden aback of Fourth Street], everybody, even the big one does come and pick-up deh thing behind here,” a resident said.
Silvertown is considered a triangular community as it is bordered by three roads, two of which are major – the Winifred Gaskin Highway which actually passes through the mouth of Silvertown and then through Half Mile; and Burnham Drive which runs from Silvertown and ends at Christianburg. Then there is the Jordan Road, better known as Tar Hill which completes the triangle.
Residents enjoy a water supply from the nearby Wismar Water Treatment plant, but complain of discolouration and intermittent interruptions. Garbage disposal is now better than it was in the past year. For many years residents were trying desperately to get support for the construction and proper management of an incinerator, but to no avail. This resulted in the unsightly pile-up of garbage at the back of the community. Recently they were successful as a consequence of the collaboration of the local authorities, including the Linden Municipality, in finally dealing with the problem. The dump is now gone and the area is being converted into a recreational park.
A walk through the community saw most of the drains looking very clean. While some were the modern concrete-style drains, there were several which had been constructed at the community‘s inception. “Look at this [referring a large drain at the back of Silvertown]; we use to swim in this drain like a canal back in the days, and it still standing,” a resident remarked.
Silvertown can boast of producing a number of accomplished persons, including Vibert Cummings, a well-known teacher and trainer; Marian Burnett the international athlete; Nigel Cummings, a former national football player; Dr Rawle Nurse, former Guyana national coach; and Charles Anthony, former national calypsonian, just to name a few.
The amenities, including nursery, primary and secondary schools and health care facilities, though not directly in the township, can be accessed at One Mile, Canvas City and in Christianburg. The Wismar Municipal Market is also close by and just over the Jordan Road is the post office as well as the All Stars Community Centre and playfield which is utilized by mostly Silvertown residents.