Story and photos by Joanna Dhanraj
Goedverwagting, East Cost Demerara is enclosed by Sparendaam, Ogle, farmland and the Atlantic Ocean in the north. The name is of Dutch origin and means ‘good expectation’.
The village begins at the Ogle/ Goedverwagting traffic lights and ends at Sparendaam. Goedverwagting is home to close to 1,000 residents and has a mixture of ethnic groups: African, East Indian, Chinese, Amerindian and Caucasian. The village is divided into three sections: the seawall to the public road, the public road to the railway embankment and the railway embankment to the farmland.
In the first section, there were huge houses that were each enclosed by high fences and gates with security alarm systems and surveillance cameras, dogs and security guards. One woman who answered when the buzzer on her gate was pressed, said she was a resident of the village, but declined to speak as she was busy.
Across the road in the other two sections the houses are less extravagant and people are about.
Ebenezer Dublin, is attached a nearby shipping company. He moved from South Ruimveldt eight years ago and when he first moved, it took a while to adjust to the busy East Coast Demerara Public Road. According to the man, the road only becomes quiet around two or three o’clock in the morning.
But living in Goedverwagting, he said, has its advantages: like having easy access to transportation and the refreshing sea breeze.
Asked whether it’s a good environment to raise children, Dublin said, he would like to think so. He recalled that growing up in South Ruimveldt, he used to play in the street with friends, but that is not a common thing here.
Living below the level of the pubic road leads to flooding for Dublin and other persons in the area. However, because the land is slanted, the water runs off quickly.
Dublin said he purchases his groceries from the supermarket in Sparendaam and gets his meat and vegetables from the Plaisance Market.
Not far away, Nadira Lalmonie was sitting with her toddler son watching television, while her sister-in-law who lives downstairs was asleep. But the two cheerful women welcomed my questions. Lalmonie’s sister-in-law did not have to say; she moved to Goedverwagting a decade ago.
Lalmonie, who grew up in the village, recalled that she and her friends played behind a funeral parlour. She said the parlour was once in business but then it was closed. Behind the building there were tombs but because it was a wide open lot, she and her friends and other children from the village met there in the afternoons to play cricket and other outdoor games. Asked whether they were scared about playing in the cemetery or behind a parlour she said they weren’t and the children who grew up in the building were living there since they were babies. The owner passed on two years ago and his family has since migrated to other parts of Goedverwagting, Guyana and overseas. In place of the parlour there is now a huge building used as a warehouse by a company.
As we talked, planes passed overhead having just left the Eugene F Correia International Airport situated not far away. Her nieces then arrived home from St Paul’s Primary School, which is situated in Plaisance. When Lalmonie was younger, she attended the same school.
She described life in Goedverwagting in two words; “quiet and breezy”.
The woman said that though they live a comfortable live, they would really like to have streetlights because it is really dark at nights and thieves hide out in the dark alleys and though they are usually petty. Blackouts are frequent and residents have access to water from 1 am to 10 am and then from 3 pm to 8 pm. Lalmonie hopes that they can have 24-hour water service.
At the only shop in section near the Railway Embankment, two women sat on concrete flower pots chatting. One was Roxanne Gentle, who settled in Goedverwagting 21 years ago from Now or Never, Mahaicony.
Apart from selling groceries, Gentle has a flower and pottery shop. Her husband, O’Neal makes the pots. The Gentles sell their pots and plants to visitors to the village. However, persons living in Goedverwagting get their pots free whenever they purchase plants. The woman she was talking to is a neighbour and customer of hers and she pointed out pots of plants at her neighbour’s residence sitting on her lawn.
“I love Mahaicony because I grew up there, but I love it here too. I like that it’s closer to Georgetown and because of this you have more opportunities academics and job wise. It’s quiet and very breezy. I’m usually outside enjoying the breeze. The neighbours here are nice. We live as one and in togetherness,” Gentle said.
Goedverwagting is also home to two well-known lawn tennis players: Mae’s Secondary student Afruica Gentle and Shawna Gentle, two of Roxanne Gentle’s four children.
Shawna has since retired, but Afruica plays for the Guyana Lawn Tennis Team and is the under-18 champion. Recently she represented Guyana against Suriname and French Guiana in the Cup of the Guianas, Guyana won.
Speaking on development, Gentle said she wants to see better roads in the community and for the cemetery to be cleared of the bush so as to avoid thieves hiding there or hiding their stolen goods there.
Further in the village, Darcy Chung’s brother was putting a patwa in a small bucket of water. He directed me to Chung who was helping her great grandson with homework. She explained that it is hard to assist him as what he is doing is totally different from what she remembers doing when she was a little girl. Phonics, she said, is a whole new subject that was unheard of in her days.
Chung migrated from Mahaica years ago, when there was no claybrick road like there is today; it was all mud. Chung finds it a privilege to live among neighbours who are cooperative.
She attends the St Paul’s Anglican Church in Plaisance.
Life here, she noted, is one of comfort and convenience as she has access to potable water, electricity, internet, transportation, supermarkets in nearby villages, the police station in Sparendaam among other things. But she wishes that the cemetery would be cleared of its bushes and that the village could be provided with streetlights.