Photos by Johann Earle
Set on the West Coast Berbice, the village of Kingelly is one of many rustic and quiet villages along the coast. Many residents said that while they enjoyed the atmosphere, they know that life there could be improved.
“The water red, red,” said one woman when Sunday Stabroek paid a visit to the community recently. “I had to discard some wares and replace them with new ones,” she said. She added that for a long time the water has had sediment in it and residents had to buy their drinking water.
According to the resident who preferred not to be named, while some people farm cash crops, others rear animals such as sheep, goats, cattle and poultry. “We hardly have government workers in the village,” the woman said, emphasizing how they depend on farming for their daily income.
She said that a lot of the young people would go into the interior after finishing school, while pointing out there are no nightclubs or sports facilities. There is a community centre being built in Yeovil, which is intended to cater for the residents of Kingelly and other villages.
Noting that there are no schools in the village, the woman who is a teacher by profession, said that children have to go to other villages to access education. “We also have to go out of the community to Lichfield to access health care since there is no health centre in our community,” she explained. The closest hospital to Kingelly is at Fort Wellington, some 10 to 15 minutes drive away.
According to most people this newspaper asked, the community has less than 500 people in total. Sunday Stabroek also learnt there is a strong religious presence in the community which is made up mainly of persons of African descent.
Residents of the village said that from time to time churches from outside the community would come and hold crusades. There is a Church of Christ where church services are held and Sunday school is kept every Sunday.
Asked whether there were any major concerns about crime and security in the community, one resident said that there would be the occasional “fowl and mango thief.”
Mary Hart, at 76 years old one of the oldest residents told this newspaper, “It is a little village…a little garden with bitter weed,” referring to some of the ongoing problems experienced by residents. “We need purified water
flowing through our taps,” she said; “You scorn to even put your hand inside. The bathroom so red you have to scrub it every day. We have to buy purified water to drink. The water is not good for human consumption.”
According to her the only changes she has seen over the years are the construction of better houses and the building of a main road through the village. It is the cross streets that are in a deplorable state.
Hart wants to see the young people from her village better off than her generation was: “I would like to see the young people from the village be better people in the community. I want them to have a playground so that they could get games going.” She also said that there must be jobs for the young people in the community,
A proud grandmother of 24 granddaughters, Hart told Sunday Stabroek that she was proud that one of them was getting married that weekend in the United States.
Hart and many of the residents called for more street lighting in the village. “We need more lights and a proper dumpsite. People from all over come and dump here,” said the friendly, chatty woman.
A plumber named Eze Shepard said he usually gets most of his work outside of Kingelly. “Sometimes I go to Berbice and get work,” the man said. He too called on the authorities to build playgrounds and other facilities for the youths of the area.
This newspaper was informed that trade unionist Lincoln Lewis hails from the village. Natasha Glasgow has been living in Kingelly for the past 17 years relating that she came from Corentyne after she married. “I came here with my husband who is from Kingelly,” she said. Glasgow added her voice to the lamentation that there are no jobs for the young people of the area, and said that when most young people finish school they would stay at home.
According to her, she was happier living on the Corentyne since she cannot find any form of recreation in Kingelly, saying that she usually goes up to Rosignol to engage in recreational activities.
Shopkeeper Sarah Grant expressed the belief that because of the small population the authorities don’t see the village as a priority for the installation of street lights. She also wanted the internal roads done. “We have a lot of vehicles in here and we don’t have proper roads. They can’t just bring clay and throw it and expect the roads to stay in place,” Grant commented.
Parsram Sookdeo, a farmer said that some of the drains and dams in the area need clearing and called on the authorities to see to this. “Some of these places need clearing. The mosquitoes would ease,” he said.
The man complained of persons stealing his animals and said that this happens constantly during the Christmas season. “For a couple of months people didn’t steal any sheep but for the Christmas I lost six of them,” he recalled, adding that “… dem man does tek one one now and then.”
Sookdeo also complained of persons not wanting to pay what he
considers a fair price for his animals. “Sometimes you catch the price and sometimes you don’t. For weddings and birthdays you might get a two dollar extra. But the butchers would want to give you next to nothing ‒ but wuh you gon do?” he remarked philosophically.
He told Sunday Stabroek that he sells one of his sheep for $20,000 but sometimes butchers would only offer him $14,000 for the animal.
Another shopkeeper Ophena Marques said she would like to see youths becoming more involved in sports activities, “because there are a lot of youths in the village and their time is not occupied doing anything constructive,” she said. She also wants to see a youth organisation active in Kingelly.
Marques said that while there is an active community policing group crime is not an issue. She said that the nearest police station is at Weldaad, some 10 villages away.