A visit along the East Bank Berbice Corridor

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Haseena Bibi

By Michel Outridge

This week the Pepperpot Magazine visited several villages along the East Bank Berbice corridor. The team passed through many small villages such as Bermine, Rotterdam, Brothers, Sisters, Longsdale, Highburg, Lighttown, Islington, Glasgow, Edinburg, Belle Vue, Kitty, Macaw, California, Juliannasburg, Friends, End Field among others.
The road that passes through these villages is about 20 miles long and is home to Guyanese of all ethnicities.

The first place the team visited was the defunct Berbice Mining Enterprise Limited (BERMINE) Plant located in Edinburgh Village which closed its doors many years ago. Today, the place is a ghost town and it has taken on an aged and rusting appearance from years of neglect.

Abandoned houses in Rotterdam

The team then visited Rotterdam which is between Belle Vue and Longsdale villages and it houses about a dozen houses with about 100 residents, whose main economic activity is farming although there are also public servants and self-employed persons.
Transportation into the village is via taxis which cost $200 one-way and the last village is Mara, where the road ends.

Seventy-year-old Neville Sukai is a resident of Rotterdam, East Bank Berbice. Sukai is a pensioner and has a lot to do and it is evident from the looks of his yard which was very well-kept environment.

He was at the time going to attach a stick to a shovel to do some yard work.
Sukai added that he went to cut a piece of wood from a nearby tree.
He stated that he retired but is still active, doing whatever he can to pass time and noted that life is simple in Rotterdam.

He lives with his wife and they have a nice cottage which is surrounded by fruit trees and plants.

In the backyard, they have a kitchen garden and he is a good fisherman too.
“At my age, I don’t sit down, I do all kinds of things to engage myself in some physical work,” he said.
Sukai has lived in the community for more than 50 years and is satisfied with the simple life in the country.

Washing car

The home of Adams

The team also met Haseena Bibi, a friendly housewife, who was assisting her spouse to wash his motorcar.

Bibi is from Mara Village and came to Rotterdam after marriage seven years ago.
She is the mother of three and operates a shop at Edinburgh.
“Most of the houses here are abandoned due to death and relatives of the deceased have migrated and never returned,” she said.

Bibi added that they spend a lot of time indoors so the curfew is not a bother to them.
She had already prepared meals and had a few tasks to complete around the house.
Bibi describes life in Rotterdam as fair with a lot to do to keep busy and her husband is a mechanic.

The oldest resident
Hyacinth Adams is the oldest resident of Rotterdam, East Bank Berbice and she is spending her golden years trying to appease the aches and pains of old age.

The 88-year-old told the Pepperpot Magazine that she spent her yesteryears working hard to raise 13 children and a blind husband.

The defunct BERMINE (Carl Croker photos)

The aged woman, who is very friendly and effervescent related that she instilled good old- fashioned morals in her children and it paid off because they all turned out good.
She sold pastries and other snacks at BERMINE for more than 10 years and would also bake bread in an old outdoor oven to sell.
But when BERMINE closed its operations she had to seek an alternative and sold eatables at a nearby sawmill.

Adams added that in those days money was hard to get but if one worked it came and things weren’t so expensive.

She also worked on a farm and did other jobs to put food on the table for her family.
“I don’t have many options at my age I will see how it goes until it’s my time but I wish these pains was not so intense because I still want to do things,” she said.
Adams also has underlying ailments and would get a check-up every two months.
She resides at the very first house in the village and is well-known for her kindness and friendly disposition.

Original Post

May 5, 1838 Highbury :  This was where the first batch of Indian Indenture Labourers arrived in Guyana.

A large building exist where Indian Arrival Day celebration takes place every year. In 2007 the bridge between Highbury and Mara  was broken and Mara was occupied mostly by the forest. The late GNI Mara was from this place, where they farmed and had cows for milk that they sold.  

At Highbury was  a school where another  GNI poster's  brother was a teacher and  solar panels operated the pump that fill the overhead water tank. There was a police outpost and medical clinic, including a card telephone near the road.  The cemetery was filled with tall bushes, that covered the graves.  Surfacing the road to Highbury was controversial for a long time, due to contractor and government  mismanagement.    

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