Story and photos by Mandy Thompson
Nobody seems to know that away from the hustle and bustle of the Parika Stelling tucked away behind tall trees is the small community of Bendorff.
There is not much to see in Bendorff, but step into the home of one of its residents and you will be greeted in such a welcoming spirit that you will want to stay.
The community has no potable water, electricity nor landline phones. Rivers,
canals and rain are the sources from which the water needs of villagers are supplied. However, generators can be seen in a number of homes to run televisions and other household appliances.
Farming is the primary economic activity of villagers who cultivate such crops as plantain, banana and cassava, among others. Wholesale buyers from the city would visit the community to purchase the produce, residents stated.
Karen Williams shares a modest home with her husband and six children. She moved from the North West District with her family 12 years ago. For her, life in Bendorff is “in between” (neither bad nor good) but she still tries to make it better she said. She described the community as very serene, which is what she loves about it. She said the quietness fits into her lifestyle because she does not like “Too much a noise.” Williams added, “My friends would tell me, ‘Gal you nah come out from de bush,’ and me does seh ‘Hear me, me like me bush.’”
Life in Bendorff is a somewhat hard for schoolchildren who have to walk twice a day on a deplorable road that is surrounded by thick bushes to schools in the other villages, located at least a mile away. Williams said her children leave home around 7am in order to reach in time for school. She noted that if she could have afforded a bicycle, life would have been much more comfortable for them, because they would be riding to school instead of walking.
Transportation is also hard to access in Bendorff, thus walking is how residents get out of the village. Williams said that she and other persons in the community have to walk all the way to Naamless to access transportation if they are going to Parika or the health centre at St Lawrence.
In emergency situations, taxis are used, but the cost for this service is very expensive since car drivers charge thousands of dollars because of the condition of the road and the distance. Williams said, “If you go buy you lil groceries a Parika, you have to take taxi to come in. It’s very hard.”
The community is in need of development, and a better road, electricity and potable water are the main items on the wish list for residents. Representatives from the Amerindian Ministry had also visited the community earlier in the year and promised to offer assistance, but nothing has since happened Williams stated.
Bendorff is located on the right bank of the Essequibo River and is bordered by Creole Creek and Maripa.
William Kippins and his family live at the beginning of the village in a modest home. Because of the lack of recreational activities in the community, he and a few friends were having a little afternoon drink when Sunday Stabroek visited the area.
Kippins and his friends did not hesitate to invite us for a chat. He quickly told us that there is nothing much to do in the village other than “Plant something so you can get to eat. Or patch the bridge fuh walk on” ‒ and of course have a few drinks with friends. For him, life is fine in the village but the price of food is high. There is only one shop and it sells just basic food items.
Kippins noted that the village has been transformed from the time he was growing up, and the construction of a road was one of the major things that occurred. But he stressed that the community is far from developed and one of the things that they urgently need is a proper road. He also told us that what he remembers about life in the olden days was that “You din had thief. Now you gah go sit down and watch you farm.” He continued, “Me use to run shut tail with me fren dem long time naked skin. You nah been know bout bucka den.”
For Kippins the most remarkable thing is that when he tells people he lives in Bendorff, they ask where it is located. He said, “Nobody know about Bendorff.”
Devon could not wait to talk as this newspaper chatted with Kippins. He told us that he is the popular guy in the community, and “If you ask anybody about me dem gone show you way me a live.” Devon said he works in the farm and sawmill but when he is not busy he plays cricket. Recently, however, he and his friends were not able to enjoy their favourite sport comfortably because the pitch they play on is in need of repair work.
Nevertheless, the lack of a cricket pitch does not stop Devon and his friends from enjoying the game at different times. He said that they would normally play on the street, but this sometimes has its challenges. According to him they “have a lil problem” because whenever they hit the ball into people’s yards the occupants complain and sometimes even call the police on them.
Meanwhile, housewife Helen was watching her television that is powered by a generator when she invited us into her home. No one could tell that she was the captain of the female cricket team in the village from looking at her.
Helen’s home is adorned with trophies her team has won from matches. As a housewife, that is the only major activity for women and as such both young and old participate in the sport.
Like other villagers, Helen also stressed that the village needs a good road. But she also said that they need the laptop computers that were promised to them by the One Laptop Per Family Project (OLPF). The woman said that they have filled out the required forms and OLPF representatives had visited the community earlier in the year, but they still have not received any computers as yet. As such Helen said she is asking the OLPF officials to ensure that they receive their computers which will assist “dem school children fuh do dem wuk.”