Story and photos by Bebi Oosman
Called ‘Coco Belly Village’ for the abundance of this small fish that lives in its swamplands, Seawell Village is tucked away between the Number Two Village and the Number 19 Public Road, Corentyne, Berbice.
The village consists of three cross streets, one church, one mandir and one grocery store. The residents are quaint but friendly. They seemed hardworking, as when World Beyond Georgetown traversed the streets almost all of the residents were busy doing something. According to the villagers, the majority of the population of Seawell works at the Rose Hall sugar estate, whilst others are fishermen and cattle farmers.
One fisherman, Seenarine Deonarine, 58, who lives in the last street in the village, said that he was born, grew up and got married in the village. The father of two said he could never think of leaving the village, as it is the only home he has ever known. He explained that he was working at the Rose Hall Estate, but then fell sick some seven years ago.
But since he could never spend his days just lazing around, he took up fishing. “After me get sick, me start go catch fish in the swamp at the back. I does catch one bucket coco belly a day then me wife does go sell it at the market, she get people that does order it,” he said.
Deonarine said that over the years the village has developed tremendously. “We na had water, light or nothing, now we get everything,” he said.
Deonarine’s son, who lives with him, 26-year-old Kishan Deonarine said that throughout his life the village has only had two major robberies. “We does only get kitchen thief. Long years ago, bandit did come in on a house in front and then a couple weeks ago them bandits rob the shop in front,” he said. His father added that a few weeks ago when the lone grocery shop in the village was robbed, he had spotted the bandits making their escape through the savanna behind him. “Me see them run and go straight through there, but me can’t come out, I did scared,” he said. Meanwhile, a few other residents complained about abandoned yards which are filled with bushes. One said, “See people own them yard this and them na come do nothing. Them just a lef the bush to grow up, and then we living. That na safe.”
“We does pay fah clean we mandir yard why other people can’t do the same?” another said. Ragena Seenauth, 39, who lives in another street explained that she fell in love with her husband and moved to his residence further up the Corentyne. However, according to her, she could not cope with the fast pace of that village, so she convinced her husband to move back to Seawell with her which they did many years ago.
The housewife said that her husband is a fisherman and farmer. She said, “He doesn’t catch all kind fish, only coco belly, me does go Rose Hall market and sell it. And we does mine pig, sheep and fowl.” She stated that her and her husband used to sell pork, but that was not working out for them so they sell live pigs now. “When you kill the pig and sell, sometime people a owe you and then nobody na want the guts or the head to buy, so it na work out,” she said.
She confirmed that there had been only two major robberies in the village. And according to her, many years ago during the first robbery one of the perpetrators was shot and killed. “Them road need to make up man,” she said, referring to the road repairs needed. Aside from that “It’s an easy, quiet village,” she said.
Meanwhile, further up the second street the World Beyond Georgetown met ‘Rosie Gal’. When asked if she had any other name and how old she was, the mother of three replied, “Me na been a school you know, but me big, Rosie Gal a wah everybody a call me.”
The woman explained that about nine years ago her husband passed away. Rosie Gal takes care of herself by doing domestic work for villagers. When asked about her three sons, she said, “Them big, but them bad, them na hear me, so me don’t talk with them.”
Her house has neither electricity nor telephone, but she is okay with that. “Me house lef just so since me husband dead,” she added.
Another villager, Budram Deosarran, 59, who lives adjacent to a trench, said that late at night, persons from other villages usually drive into Seawell Village and dump garbage in the trench. Deosarran is calling on the local authorities to look into the matter. “I have no other problem with this village, me born and grow here and me go dead here,” he said.
Phillip Dhuman, 59, said that he moved to Seawell in 1977. “It develop out now, we get streets and so, long ago was like a savanna here,” the father of three said. “This is a nice village to raise children.”
However, Dhuman stated that he would like to see more police presence in the village. “Once and far the police does come patrol here,” he said.
According to some villagers, many years ago a Haribol temple was located at the end of the village. However, members of the temple have since relocated the godly house to further up the Corentyne.
Indarjet Seecharran, 64, a pensioner, who plants a kitchen garden for his family, was all smiles as he stated that he reads the Sunday Stabroek regularly and would love to one day see himself in the paper. “Me does plant pumpkin and bora,” he said. “It na take me more than 15 minutes to plant one bank. But me na want plant nuff cause me hear when you plant nuff you got to pay tax and thing,” the man said.
Meanwhile villagers explained that a known resident of the village has gone missing. The man Neville Barratt, 57 also known as ‘Bounty’ was last seen about two weeks ago. According to relatives, Barratt was an easygoing man.
According to villagers, it is possible to reach the entrance to the Berbice River Bridge from the back of the village. However, they pointed out that you would have to walk through swamps and rice fields to make the journey possible.