Developed, yet quaint, Gangaram village is nestled between Betsy Ground and New Forest in East Canje, Berbice. It is the second to last village when you enter the Canje area from the Canje turn.
With a population of some 400, the village is home to a large number of Guyana Sugar Corporation (GuySuCo) workers, as well as a magnitude of teachers. As the World Beyond Georgetown journeyed the newly built streets of Gangaram Settlement, villagers were seen either relaxing or completing their daily chores. Some of the four houses blasted music: religious songs or the latest Bollywood hits.
Narshama Mahadeo, who has lived in the village for over 14 years, was mopping her concrete ‘bottom house’. She shied away from talking about the village, pointing to her husband as the person who would answer. Her husband, 46-year-old Diaram Ramodhar, a field worker attached to the Rose Hall Estate, has lived his entire life in the village. He explained in the year 2000 the village was provided with electricity, water and phones. “Abie na been get nothing and in 2000 then abie start get the government help. Den dem give abie water and light and suh. This village get a pump station but it a run by GuSsuCo.”
He said the village is somewhat immune to serious crimes, so that the recent murder of Bill Etwaru shocked the entire village. Ramodhar noted that he was the fisherman who discovered Etwaru’s bullet-riddled body lying on a GuySuCo dam. He recounted that the police had suspected him and he was held for questioning.
That was “the worst time of me life,” he said. “Me been go catch fish and find him. Dem lock me for three days and three nights. Yes dem hold me for investigations. Me was de fisherman, me go and see dis person deh and run come back and tell people and dem go, when me go give statement dem police say dem got to hold me for investigation. Them carry me and lock me up. Me na been a sleep and na eat. Dem place that [lockups] na for me, 46 years me get and me neva go in there.”
The father of two said he felt as if he was being punished for something he did not do. However, he thanked God that the police finally realized he was innocent and let him go.
In another street, Seroj Munessar, 44, also known as ‘Sharda’ was grating coconuts to make coconut oil for the upcoming Diwali celebrations. She explained that the number of diyas she lights depends on the amount of coconut oil she produces. She said she had already finished grating over 30 coconuts. When asked how she will produce the coconut oil, Munessar explained, “I grate the coconut here, then when I get the milk I will set it and when it form we go dip it out and boil the oil.” She said it is a two-day process. She was hoping to produce some four pints of oil.
Munessar pointed out that she along with her husband takes care of their two grandchildren, aged six and five. “Dem father dead and dem mother married back,” she said. “So me a look after dem and send dem a school and so.”
Ramdehal Parmanand, 54, Munessar’s husband, who is a cane harvester at the Rose Hall Estate, had just returned home from work, had a shower and was relaxing in his hammock enjoying a light smoke. Parmanand who lives on the same lot where he was born and grew up said, “I have no problem with this village, it deh just so all the time.” He is also a farmer. “Me get big farm where me does plant nuff things and suh. Me a plant cassava, pumpkin, cucumber, squash, all vine crops.” He explained that he wholesales his produce to the market vendors. The man also has a kitchen garden for his home use.
Another villager, who was shy to give his name, told World Beyond Georgetown that the village has one church, one mandir and a temple. He highlighted that the village also houses a primary and a nursery school in the same building. One of the best known cattle ranches in the Canje area, the Sookraj Ranch is also located in Gangaram.
Khemranie Jhinkoo, 48, a housewife and part-time caterer was in the process of cleaning chicken to cook up some curry for her family. “Gangaram is a nice village to live. It quiet; you hardly get thief man. I love living here,” the woman boasted. She explained that the village has about four grocery shops. “It is a really nice village you know, we does cooperate.”
She mentioned that the young people in the village who love to play cricket would come together and keep a “fun day”, which even attracts overseas-based villagers. “Dem does come for the fun day and everyone does come together and have a nice time,” Jhinkoo said. She reiterated that the villagers live as “one big family”.
Residents of Gangaram highlighted that a large number of its population has migrated, while, “Nuff people get visa and a go and come.”
Meanwhile, one of the newest residents of Gangaram, Elizabeth Jaggernauth, told Stabroek News that she loves living in the village despite its location. She explained that they moved some four months ago since her husband was having difficulties parking his truck in their old village. “I prefer to live here. We don’t get problem with transportation, we does get transportation to bring us in,” she noted.
Jaggernauth’s daughter who attends the Gangaram Nursery School was colouring on the staircase while her father along with a workman was fixing his truck on the road.
Grocery store owner Mahen Karran when asked said, “Business has always been in and out, in and out it.” The pensioner was painting the inside of his kitchen while his wife was selling in the shop and preparing lunch.
Further down the same street is the water pump run by GuySuCo. The pump attendant who was on duty at the time explained that he lives in Gangaram and rides to work every day. He said he enjoys working and living in the same village. “It more easy for me,” the man pointed out. “Gangaram is a nice village. We don’t get problem, people a live good,” he reiterated.
One complaint the villagers had was the garbage situation at the end of the village. They noted that persons from in and out of Gangaram dump their garbage there indiscriminately. They are asking for the relevant authorities to intervene so that that situation does not escalate.