Just 11.5 kilometres from Supenaam is the serene and peaceful little village of Pomona. It is divided into two sections: Pomona Village and Pomona Housing Scheme and has about 2,000 residents.
Pomona begins at a bus shed or Supermarket Street and ends at the Riverstown famous black water creek.
When I arrived in Pomona not much stirred. However, at one house where Bhajans belted from speakers, a resident looked on as his son fixed their vehicle, giving him directions. This man was Deodat Singh, a contractor who owns his own construction firm and builds sea defences, bridges and culverts in parts of Guyana. Singh has been living in Pomona for two decades now, having moved from the neighbouring village Riverstown.
Life is relatively the same in both villages, he said. When he moved, Pomona had more people, but many have since migrated. At that time there was no housing scheme.
He noted that the Aurora Secondary School, which was once situated in Aurora, nine villages away, has been relocated to Pomona. He finds it hilarious that it is still called Aurora Secondary, given its new location.
He added that the village has potable water and electricity, but he does not like that persons come from all over to dump their garbage in the creek that separates Pomona and Riverstown. Singh said there’s enough wasteland that the government could buy that could be used as a dumping site and urges that this be done.
He also mentioned that the dark roadways could use streetlights.
Next door to Singh, yellow mangoes which had fallen from a tree littered the yard; the fruit is in season.
Almost halfway through the village, happy chattering children were seen leaving a church as their Sunday School Class was over. Their smiling teacher saw them out to a bus and said goodbye also to those who were on their way home by foot.
Nearby was a little tidy home belonging to 88-year-old Ivy Jairam, who invited me in saying she hardly ever got visitors and was happy for the visit. The petite Jairam said her heritage is Amerindian, Portuguese, African, East Indian and Chinese and sometimes she wonders if there could be some European blood in her as well; she chuckled as she shared this.
She was born at Supenaam, the first child of her parents and now only surviving one. In her girlhood days, she attended the Scottish school in Supenaam, but unfortunately was unable to finish. She can’t quite remember how old she was when she moved to Pomona with her parents and other siblings but she got married at the age of 19.
She spoke of the red brick road she met when she arrived in Pomona that made it look like the interior. She had helped to clear some of the land. Getting married, she noted, meant working hard in the backdam learning to plant and cut the rice then taking it to the mill.
She bore five children, one of whom died. While her husband stayed at the “grant” working for months at a time at a place situated somewhere in the Supenaam River, she tended to her children alone. She saw him sometimes twice times a year; other times she travelled to where he was and helped to clean the place. To make ends meet, Jairam took jobs as a domestic worker with different sets of people. She said she eventually got to see her husband more when he fell ill with a stroke, but he did not live very long after that and she had to work even harder to take care of herself and children.
When asked how she got through it, she acknowledged that it was only by God’s grace. Throughout the conversation, she kept repeating, “Is only me alone and God.” She always calls on Him, she said.
She seldom visited the market in the years gone by; she always kept a kitchen garden and reared meat birds. Now she is aged and cannot do much, though she keeps her little house spic and span. Already she is contemplating washing her mats for Christmas.
She has knee pain and added that she wanted to go to the man in the village who “rubs” but her daughter said it might be arthritis and if it is rubbing it will not help so she stayed put. Asked about visiting the hospital in Suddie, three villages away, she said in all her years she never liked going to the doctor. Recently, she slipped in the bathroom and hurt her back and although she still has pain, she said she can manage.
Every morning she makes herself breakfast, usually bread or pastry with some tea. Her granddaughter-in-law who lives in the same yard takes care of lunch and dinner.
Jairam said the people of Pomona are peaceful. She said also that in the years gone by, neighbours visited each other just to say howdy; but folks nowadays are more reserved.
Sher Khan is a Technical Drawing and Metal Work teacher at the Aurora Secondary School. He has been attached to this school for some 13 years. The school has 450 students from different villages.
Khan, who originally hailed from Riverstown, said it is his belief that the village dates back more than 100 years as his grandparents had lived here also. He moved to Pomona Housing Scheme in 2007.
At the time of my visit, he was cleaning his car.
Most of the men in the village have taken up farming, logging, gold mining or driving.
“This is a quiet place. Doesn’t have much distraction relating to parties or anything like that. Most of the youths here make the most of the community centre ground playing football and cricket. The ground existed longer than the housing scheme,” he said. Back in 1996, villagers and outsiders would play ‘rounders’ on the field.
Near the school is the Aurora Secondary Dormitory. It houses children from Leguan, Pomeroon, Bethany Mission, Mishabo Mission, Wakapao and other riverain areas.
Living in Pomona Housing Scheme, Khan said, is convenient and villagers have access to the ground, the school, a supermarket among other things, though he wishes that there can be more groundwork on the community centre ground. Khan said the village would benefit from streetlights and better water. There is high iron content in the water, he said.
Another disadvantage, Khan said, is the high unemployment rate.