St. Lawrence and Present Hope villages

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Milton Kallicharran cleaning the drain outside his home

Major contributors to our food security

This week the Pepperpot Magazine visited the farming communities of St. Lawrence and Present Hope, East Bank Essequibo to highlight the way of life of the residents.

The villages are very small and are home to about 500 locals collectively, most of whom earn a living by farming while, others are employed at sawmills and on farms.

Sanjay Mangal (Carl Croker photos)

St. Lawrence and Present Hope are the home of ground provisions, cash crops, rice and fruits. Framers operate on a large scale and market their produce to wholesalers.

The communities are bordered by Hubu and Lukaboo and are close to the Essequibo River, making them the ideal place for saw millers.

The villages were all owned by the Dutch, who had plantations of cane and cotton, owned and operated by the De Camps, the Lafermans and the Matthews, the first inhabitants.

Some of the residents of today and their ancestors had purchased parcels of land from the original owners, who owned all the land back then.

The villages of St. Lawrence and Present Hope have electricity, potable water, cable, internet, landline phones and an all-weather road, which was paved a few months ago under the current administration.

St. Lawrence has a few shops, four churches, a primary school, a playground while, Present Hope has a ball field, shops and churches.

The villages are quiet, peaceful and the folk are very friendly and welcoming, most of whom lead very simple lives.

Krishna Mangal and Sons Sawmill in Present Hope, East Bank Essequibo

Upon entry into the village of Present Hope, East Bank Essequibo, the Pepperpot Magazine, met a villager, Milton Kallicharran, who despite the heavy downpour was cleaning a drain just outside this property.

The 64-year-old stated that his yard was flooded due to the rainfall over the past few days so he had no other option but to clear the drain.

He is a farmer and has four acres of ground provisions which he sells to wholesalers at Hubu Koker, a short distance away.

“I don’t have to go far to sell my produce because the people would come with their canter trucks to buy and take away the produce, making it easy for me,” he explained.

The father of one reported that with the rainy season, it is not good for ground provisions but he is certain the season will be over soon since it is his only source of income.

Kallicharran added that when he was younger he tried his hand at mining and used to go to the far-flung areas to work but his real passion is farming.

Residents going home with produce after a day at the farm

“I have lived almost all my life in this village so I like it here and I am satisfied with this modest life and it doesn’t become routine once you like it,” he said.

Giving back
The Pepperpot also spoke with Sanjay Mangal, newphew of the owner of Krishna Mangal and Sons Sawmill who explained that their door is always open to villagers and at any given time the business is willing to assist community members.

He stated that in the past they contributed financially to the cricket teams and that whenever they go out of the village to compete they would ensure their meals are in order.

Apart from that, the 24-year-old related that the business would donate materials to individuals and others.

“At any time, residents can visit the sawmill for wood strips, pieces of wood and sawdust at no cost and if their needs are otherwise we also ensure we can provide whatever is necessary,” he said.

Mangal added that before the all-weather road was paved they used to place strips of wood to make it passable for vehicles since the dam was very muddy and flooded often.

The Parika resident stated that the business has been in existence for the past six years and they have in their employ 32 persons including employees who reside out of the village in riverine areas, adding that the business provides accommodation for those persons and their families.

Mangal wears many hats at the sawmill, serving as the Electrician, the Accountant and Supervisor.

“We try to give back to the community in any way we can because we recognise the need to be benevolent and we must play a part in the development of the village and its people,” he said.

The business is owned by Krishna Mangal, who has four sons and is from Parika.