Lonsdale Village located on the upper East Bank Berbice may be one of the most populated villages on that end, although it houses just about 100 persons.
According to residents, the village is known for its love and unity as well as its great hospitality. Residing just at the beginning of the village is Reshmi Massiah, also known as “Ronnie”, 79, the oldest resident in Lonsdale. She told the World Beyond Georgetown that she has never left the village because “I don’t have nowhere else to go, I like it here.”
According to Ronnie, in the past the village did not have proper water, electricity or roads. “Let me tell you wan story how good ayo get it now, long ago we use to use pond water and make kerosene lamp.”
She said after many years a proper road was built and with that came the implementation of electricity and water, however, the village is yet to benefit from the services of a landline phone. She said, “We happy with what we have but if we get street lights we would be more happy. Before it didn’t have so many houses, people start come in and build sweet houses, we never had big house, we had small house. Today people civilize people got concrete house, wood house, we use to daub we downstairs, today they got concrete bottom house, people don’t daub anymore.”
According to Aunty Ronnie, she dreams of one day being able to operate a computer. “I want them to have computer classes. I see the young people always on them phone, I would like to learn that too, I would be grateful.”
She said the village needs more activities for the young folks as well as the older folks.
Aunty Ronnie, a pensioner makes fishing nets to sell and in her spare time she still goes to her son’s farm to help him clean. She said, “I don’t like be one place, I like to deh about and do things. I deh home here because me daughter come visit me, if she na been here I would a gone farm.”
She also claimed that police in the area are very slow as a police station is located some two villages ago but “every time you call the police they never come”.
She further advised the authorities to engage the young people of the village, “Them getting lazy, they need something to do,” she joked.
Aunty Ronnie also stated that the relationship among neighbours has changed tremendously. “You can’t tell you neighbour nothing, them say you minding them business. But long ago, people were stupid, now them get more civilized,” she said.
Another resident who lived for over 18 years in the village said it is now stagnated but has seen tremendous improvements over the years.
However, she noted that her young adult son operates a computer repair shop. She said she would be grateful for a land line phone, since that would help improve her son’s business. “Business in here slow, people does come one, one; the area na too populated and he ain’t get a line phone for people call he,” she highlighted.
Another resident, Kumarie Shamlall, 39, who has lived in the village for over 13 years said that the village needs some major improvements, such as streetlights and clearing of certain bushy areas.
The woman, whose three children are currently at an orphanage in New Amsterdam, explained that her seven-year-old daughter, who was born with a cleft palate has already undergone two surgeries.
The woman noted that the young child needs some immediate medical attention. “Me run all over and them a push around abie. Right now when she eat something it coming out back through she nose and one side ear. Me really glad if somebody can look into it. Them always does say them gone help and when you go the hospital them push you around and tell you go to this one, go to this one,” she said.
The children at the child’s school are extremely nice to her. “Them never trouble she and them like she. Mussy because it barely a show but we really need somebody to look after inside she mouth,” she said.
Alana Daniels, who moved into the village some five years ago from Essequibo, said she prefers Berbice. “My husband does bring lumber so sometimes he does gone for two-three weeks and me does be home with me children. Me does try for my children them sake,” she said. “Me husband went and build a school in Essequibo and he see me and we like each other and he bring me out.”
Daniels’s daughter, Malinda Sookhai, 6, said her favourite subject is writing.
Meanwhile, Naimoon Nisha, 62, said, “In this village you can move around and do what you want and nobody don’t tell you nothing. Me husband and two son a live with me and me granddaughter come now to spend holiday cause school close.”
Nisha and her granddaughter, Shazeena Ali, 8, was heading down the Lonsdale main road to retrieve their cattle.
Doris Bacchus, 73, said she has lived in the village for over 66 years. “When I was here was a few houses alone and more people come and live. We hadn’t water. We hadn’t light. We hadn’t phone, pipe on the road in other villages, we had to push water from Bermine to here with drums and then them start bring in water a few years now,” she said.
She added, “We living better in the village now with more people, cooperative people, quiet people. I never get a break and enter; you can leave anything outside.”
She explained her love story, “I use to live in Edinburgh and he use to go by his aunt there. I was just 16 years and he was just 19 years and we marry since then.”
The woman, a mother of four who had her first child at age 17, said she was abroad for over six years but returned because, “I love Guyana and I love this village.”
A lot of Lonsdale residents were not at home during my visit. According to some residents, persons are always on the go in village which has two grocery shops. “People gone a work, just couple lady a deh home day time and that’s it,” the woman noted.
Lonsdale has a lot of beautiful views and travellers usually stop to take photographs, one woman said.