Story and photos by Alva Solomon
Situated some three miles off the Linden-Soesdyke Highway is the sprawling religious community of Hauraruni. It is located between the Marakai Creek and the Hauraruni River, on a 460 acre plot of land leased by the Full Gospel Fellowship Church from the state. According to residents, the community, which has a population of approximately 1500 persons, was born out of a vision that the late Reverend Philip Mohabir received from God.
The community was started in 1976 and was meant to serve as a base for the training of missionaries, as well as a venue for camps, conventions, seminars and conferences. The creation of the village was an attempt to demonstrate that the church is not just concerned about the soul, but also with the holistic development of the total human being.
Mohabir noted in his memoirs that in 1976 approximately 80 persons with cases, bags and foam mattresses, among other things, made their way across the Demerara River in a small launch in the direction of what was then the Timehri Airport. The group then made a seven mile trek into the bush, and after cutting their way through dense vegetation, they came upon a clearing that is today Hauraruni.
Stabroek News visited the community recently and residents related that it is one of the most peaceful areas in the country. Farmer Jaggat Jacob related that he moved to the area in 1981 as a bible student. He said that he stayed for some 4 years at the Hauraruni International Mission Training Centre, then left the area with his family returning in 1990 after which he spent another 6 years.
After preaching the word of God in another part of the country, Jacob returned to Hauraruni in 2001 and has been living there ever since. The main economic activity at Hauraruni is farming and Jacob and his wife Yvette have been tilling the soil for years. The couple related that their three children were born and schooled in the community. He said that his teaching activities as well as the farm have been his main sources of income.
As his wife embroidered designs on pieces of cloth, Jacob related that he markets his produce at Mahdia, and his wife noted that the family “receive a good price” there. “For us it’s our local market… we do trading across borders… the border of Hauraruni,” his wife said with a chuckle. The family plants peppers, ochro, bora and several fruit trees among other things, and the couple noted that they enjoy living in the serene environment.
Trustee member and member of the national leadership of Hauraruni, Deoram Timran, told this newspaper that the area thrives on self-support. He said that there are several projects under way there and these are the main economic earners for the community. One such project is a United States Agency for International Development funded greenhouse farm located nearly a mile away on the outskirts of the community. At the farm several crops, including butternut squash, peppers and vegetables are planted, and the produce is marketed out of the area. There are other small farm projects at the community level and the proceeds assist in the development of the community.
While some residents live and work in the area, there are others who leave their homes in search of jobs in other parts of the country. These include the miners, teachers, chain-saw operators and others who work in offices.
Since it is a religious community, there are also residents who carry out pastoral work outside Hauraruni. One such resident is Pastor Pooran Budhu, who related that he has been living in the village for almost two decades. He said that like many others of his generation, he has been working outside the area to carry out his pastoral duties on behalf of the Full Gospel Church. He told this newspaper that he has been travelling to and from Hauraruni for some 13 years, adding that the Number 58 miles area along the Mabura Trail has been his second home. He too noted that life at Hauraruni is quiet but according to him, residents live each passing day carrying out their various chores and errands by the grace of God.
Residents told Stabroek News that they started receiving electricity some two years ago and they noted that the intervention by the power company came as a welcome relief. The community receives water via a small well within the perimeter of the area. There is also a health centre and a nursery and primary school. Secondary-age children attend school in Dora or at Soesdyke.