This past summer, my husband was invited to volunteer with the Florida International Volunteer Corps (FAVACA) to help the Amerindian population in Guyana to develop cosmetic products using an abundant local ingredient called Crabwood Oil. My husband was able to use his extensive experience to help out this community to develop a product for them to sell and support their families. This was not an easy trip for my husband going to this remote area and I’m very proud of him for going. Over my next couple postings, I’ll let my husband describe his experiences in his words:
On August 17, 2011, the plane I was on touched down in Guyana in the early morning. It was the first stop for me in Guyana in the capacity as a FAVACA volunteer in partnership with Farmer to Farmer to work with Amerindians that reside in the Three Brother Community. This inland mission was also by the invitation and arrangement of the Ministry of Amerindian Affairs of Guyana.
I flew out on the 19th from Ogle International Airport, which is a small airport mainly used by single engine airplanes for short flying distances serving the rural areas. The flight was unexpectedly very smooth. We left the airstrip and went down to a small village by the river named Kumaka. This is an important marketplace for the nearby communities doing their merchandise exchange and shopping in these river communities. The journey to my host, Greg’s home took one and a half hours by a boat fitted with a powerful outboard motor. I was told that it would take about four hours if only using a small motor; and twelve plus hours if paddling a canoe. Boating is the only way of transportation for everyone living in this community because there is no road connecting the houses and communities in this area. All residents have their houses built near the rivers for easy access transporting in and out of the area by boat.
Before we got to Greg’s house, he pointed to two small wooden building along the river used as the school buildings. I was told all students regardless of the grade level share the larger building as a class room. It very much resembled the one room schoolhouses in the early North American settlements. The smaller building is used as the teacher’s residence. There was no one on the grounds because school was in recess. I took a picture of the buildings from the river.
Greg also made a stop by the bridge leading to another building which is used as a community healthcare center. This center provides minimal medication and treatment for minor illnesses. More serious illnesses and open wounds have to be transferred to Mabaruma where they have a hospital with some equipment and is better staffed. If the Mabaruma hospital could not handle the situation, the patient would be airlifted to Georgetown for treatment. One of the learners that came for the workshop is the health worker of that center. She took a patient with an open cut by boat to Marbaruma after her first day of training. It was a long journey for a young lady riding over two hours on the river in the dark of night. I salute her.