Boundary Rotary Projects in Guyana
Last Monday I gave my latest report on the club’s project in Guyana. Since 2004 Boundary Rotary has been working on projects in the Pakaraimas Mountains in South America. The Pakaraima Mountains are situated in a remote corner of Guyana on the border with Brazil.
I worked for the Ministry of Education in Guyana from 1997 to 1999 and coordinated a UNICEF project in three of the isolated villages. The people who live there are members of the Patemona Nation and are traditionally hunters and gatherers. When I first visited the area, I flew to a central village and then walked the miles to other communities, distances ranging from 2 to 20 miles. Today many people still live as hunters and gatherers though the lack of game makes this way of life difficult to maintain. The trails have been widened and tractors, trucks and ATV’s are used. Travel may be easier but there are still many challenges. Game and fish are scarce. Logging and mining provide work but are dangerous and degrade the environment. Many illnesses are present and the health facilities in the region are not advanced. No adult education is available and there are few books.
From 2004-2007 the Boundary Rotary worked on a project designed to help with a spike in the number of cases of malaria. The club sent in mosquito nets and worked with the community to raise people’s awareness of the diagnostic process and the importance of completing treatment even when the medication makes this patient feel terrible. The project was very successful and along with other initiatives reduced the cases of malaria in one month from over a hundred to 2.
The next project undertaken by the Boundary involved preparing trainers who went back to their communities with training and material on first aid and preventative medicine, nutrition and diabetes prevention and treatment. The next component involved training of village workers and leaders in how to manage and to lead a village. Three workshops dealt with village leadership and many valuable topics were covered.
Most recently two sessions have been devoted to recording the stories and legends and traditional ways of the Patemona nation. No other book or video has been produced to provide a record of their traditions and without some hasty efforts much of this knowledge could be lost forever.
Some legends are for entertainment and many involve the animals that live in the surrounding rain forest. Some explain natural phenomena and others describe the battle against evil and the Kanaima or assassin who lurks in the jungle.
A bena or charm to improve a hunter’s skills. In the real thing there are many stinging ants In the workshops some people described the benas or charms traditionally used to improve life. One such was used to increase the amount of game that a hunter could catch. Two of the men in the workshops demonstrated this process. First Traditional house of wattle and daub (mud and upright sticks)w ith a thatched roof and cassava bread drying on the roof
Afifth annual car show will be taking place at the Stanstead Entertainment Centre (SEC) on September 10th, beginning in the morning and running until supper time. About seventy antique, modified and just plain ‘fancy’ cars were shown at last year’s event and organizer Nick Wood is hoping for that or better this year. “All owners of antique, new and modified cars are welcome to come to the event,” said Mr. Wood.
The day-long event will include children’s activities, a canteen and bar on site, a smoke show at 2:00 pm and more. The Awards Ceremony will begin at 4:00 pm and the event is free for spectators but there is a small fee to exhibit a vehicle.
In case of rain, the show will be held on Sunday. For more information call Nick Wood at the SEC. a number of stinging ants were caught and woven into a piece of basketry. Then the ants’ stings were applied to the chest and stomach of the hunter who had to bear the pain without comment. Then the hunter had to make sure that he went hunting soon. If he failed to do so the spell would back fire making his wife very difficult to deal with. Needless to say the charm provided lots of motivation to hunt and bring home a great deal of game.
Despite contracting both malaria and typhoid, I am very fortunate to have worked in such a fascinating part of the world and get to know the people there. I hope to return next year to review the manuscript of the book with the individuals who contributed their stories to it.
Kaieteur Falls, a spectacular site in the Pakaraima Mountains of Guyana
Amerindian women work on making training aids in a Rotary workshop
A newly-made road going across the savannahs
A bena or charm to improve a hunter’s skills. In the real thing there are many stinging ants