Story and photos by Keneisha Fraser
“I came to live here in 1975 when I married. The place wasn’t populated and was bushy,” said Jasoda Lall as she sat in her living room with her friend, Kaywattie Boodram.
Land of Plenty, a name not well known by most, is a quiet, sparsely populated Indian village on the Essequibo Coast situated between Three Friends and Mainstay.
In the early years, the village had just five houses, large sections of bush and a large amount of open land. It now boasts a number of private businesses and an abundance of rice fields. The few young people who live in Land of Plenty, according to residents, are employed in other villages on the coast while a handful works at either the gas station, parts shop, Neal and Massy or the Ramotar Rice Mill, all located in the village. Everyone else is mostly engaged in rice farming or tend their kitchen gardens.
“Since I was small, this place had the same name. I never heard of another name and when I go to Georgetown to do business and I tell people where I’m from, they ask me where that is,” said Kaywattie Boodram, who was born and raised in Land of Plenty. “I was born right here and I marry right here too, but my husband died. We does live peacefully here and there is no crime. We live like family around here.”
Jasoda and her husband Kishore Lall said that they were contented to live in the village even though there is a minor drainage issue.
“In 1993 when they started to clear the land, we used to have knee high water when the floods came. You could have catch fish right next to your step how the flood waters were high. We didn’t have electricity and pipe water. We used to wash with trench water and use black water from the backland to cook,” Jasoda said.
Today there is only flooding in the backlands, although residents clear their own stretch of trench which runs there.
The village is fortunate in being provided with potable water, electricity and telephone service. Residents said that Puran Bros was contracted by the NDC to collect the garbage.
Kishore Lall, who owns a rice field that he rents, and drives a hire car, said that things were hard at first. “We didn’t have a lot of money but we made sacrifices and sent our two children to school even though they had just one uniform each. Where we living now had an old house before that belonged to my father. After the people began to clear the land, other people came from other villages and buy land and build big businesses. Most people now do rice farming and others are employed outside of the community.”
The Lalls now operate a small grocery shop that caters for the basic needs of residents.
Along the public road in a concrete house, Sookhon (only name given) an 82-year-old man was happy to share his life experiences. “I worked in the estate since I was small. I used to dig out one thousand coconuts every day and plus I use to work in the rice field. Me ain’t had no time to be idle. When I deh small, there was plenty bush here and just a couple of houses, but then the place start to develop.”
Sookhon, who added that he worked with Guywa for seven years, highlighted an issue that has been bothering him for a period of time. “I never received any benefit from NIS except for $500 that they give me. You know how much time I gone into them and they tell me is just $500 I gat to get and that was like 5 years back,” he said.
To keep himself occupied, the elderly man who lives with his daughter Badewattie Data, plants a kitchen garden. “I have bora, pumpkin, ochro, boulanger and pepper,” he said.
Further along, H Persaud, who is a Justice of Peace, said he moved to Land Of Plenty to live a few years ago but knows a little about the origin of the name of the village.
“On the map you wouldn’t find the name Land of Plenty. The former proprietor of the Land of Plenty Estates Ltd, Mr E Doobay suggested that the place be called Land of Plenty and because he was a man of influence, his suggestion was accepted and this village has been known by the name from then on.”
In another section of the village, popular businessman Roopan Ramotar commonly known as ‘Fowl Cock’, owns a considerable amount of land in the village, a rice mill and a small housing development that consists of five to eight houses that have been sold to private individuals.
Neal and Massy also has its Essequibo branch in the village.
Land of Plenty came to fame recently when it was discovered that it is home to triplets Radha, Reenica and Rajshri Mansaran who were born to Devika Persaud. The girls recently celebrated their 19th birthday.
Owing to the fact that there are few children, there is only a nursery school in the village; primary and secondary education is catered for in Affiance, in the case of the first, and Anna Regina in the case of the second. Since the bulk of the population is middle aged and older, there is little in the way of recreational facilities, but the young people who want a break ‘lime’ at a hang-out spot at the back of a supermarket.