Bound­ary Ro­tary Projects in Guyana

Stanstead Journal - - FORUM - Jan Draper, spe­cial col­lab­o­ra­tion North Hat­ley

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

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