One of the things that is prevalent in Guyana is several villages in different parts of the country with the same name. However, as the local saying goes, “Is na one dog name Pompey.” The villages are not at all alike.
Onderneeming in Parfait Harmonie, West Bank Demerara, is a bright little village brimming with life. The village is fairly new and its residents though they have come from all across Guyana, have united and adapted to village life. Youngsters could be seen hanging out on almost every street corner and it was mentioned that Onderneeming is no place for the reserved and those who keep to themselves soon learn to socialize.
With its current population pegged at around 500, the village is still growing; there is a number of vacant lots waiting to be occupied. However, the mandir, churches, day care and play schools, shops, internet café, medical centre and vending are indicative of settling.
Annie Bhagwandin, a vendor, sells fruits and vegetables at a roadside stall on the main street at the head of Onderneeming. As a retailer she sets reasonable prices to meet the small man and not long after the World Beyond Georgetown stopped to chat, a little boy dropped by to buy $40 worth of limes.
Bhagwandin, who was born at Bonasika, a riverain village, moved to Onderneeming WBD three years ago, from where she had been living in Canal Number One. She considers herself fortunate to be living in Onderneeming.
“It doesn’t take you long to get transportation here. The road always got vehicles just like the people,” the woman said.
Before putting up her small stall, Bhagwandin sold fruits at Leonora, Stabroek, Wales and Bagotville markets and though she saw more customers at those venues, she prefers her current location. She no longer has to travel to market or rent a stall.
“My stand don’t really got nothing when the day coming to an end,” she said, “but somehow today the table still full. When this happen I ain’t got to go to Georgetown to buy more fruits and greens. I got to make sure this sell out first. Look the green mango turning already.”
Though the village appears to be booming, Bhagwandin said, it’s really quite quiet and that is what she mostly likes.
Although the area is rumoured to have thieves, Bhagwandin said she has never had trouble.
She wants better roads and for the Guyana Power and Light to stop the blackouts that frequent the area. The outages have cost her a fridge, a television and a printer her daughter used for school purposes.
“I would like street lights too. A lot of people who work here work outside of the village and some of them got to work the night shifts,” she said.
Through one of the streets in the village a few men sat outside of a shop grabbing an afternoon drink. The shopkeeper Godfrey Samuels, who said he moved from Wales, found Onderneeming a little more interesting as it meant meeting new people.
“When I came here eight years ago, the street was marked out already but it was sheer loam,” he said. “It didn’t have many houses and barely any transportation. Sometimes persons used to wait 45 minutes to an hour for vehicles. I never had to wait really. I just used to call a taxi. “Onderneeming has developed a lot; the minute you walk out to the road, a bus or car passing your way.”
Asked about the cost of transportation, Samuels said that from Bagotville, the fare is a $100 and from Georgetown $140, but after nine or ten at night, it goes up to $200.
“We have electricity and water. I don’t see any disadvantages here. The only one thing that bothers me is the police patrolling the area. We need more of their presence,” he said.
“We do have petty crimes here. However, I was never bothered but they did went in on my son; nothing big, just a cell phone they gone with.
“One other thing if somebody do work for you, you never underpay them,” he added. “I always pay them right. That good coordination makes me somebody respected in my community.”
Samuels, who is also a builder, said many persons are into construction like him, some work for private companies in Georgetown while a few others work as teachers, nurses and drivers.
He said the village youth would go to the ball field in Westminster nearby to play football. The ground, he said, is in no proper condition for playing anything.
“Cricket lovers resort to playing in the streets. We need a recreational facility with a playground, a police outpost, better roads and what should be number one priority, street lights,” he added.
David Deonarine, formerly of Better Hope, East Coast Demerara, said moving to Onderneeming with his mother six years ago has changed him.
“When I first move in here, I was reserved like a lot of the people living in Better Hope. Over time, I realize that Onderneeming is not a place for reserved people and I start to mix and talk with them,” he said. “Here everybody look out for one another; everybody need to be there for one another.
“When I first moved here it was difficult to get transportation to go to work but now transportation running the road all the time except when the bridge open.”
Deonarine works in construction and is also a technician who does “rigging work” (climbing towers) sometimes.
The necessary things like potable water, electricity and groceries he said are at his convenience. A Canter drives around the village twice a week selling groceries. However, Deonarine said that his mother who works in Georgetown, does her purchasing there or at Vreed-en-Hoop.
There are a few shops in the area that provide whatever small things villagers may run out of in the kitchen.
Deonarine said he believed the grocery Canter was robbed twice already and he hopes to see more police patrols in the area.
Apart from that, Onderneeming has become home, Deonarine said, where he has found some new best friends he enjoys hanging with.