By Michel Outridge
THIS week the Pepperpot Magazine journeyed to Ross Village, West Coast Berbice, to highlight the way of life of the people and the community.
This village was once a plantation bought by slaves, who settled there with their families decades ago and today, some of the villagers are considered descendants of the early inhabitants.
Ross Village has three streets which are unpaved and muddy in some sections with backlands as far as the eye can see, canals and is a quiet roadside community consisting of people of mixed race.
The population is just over 300 of all races, including Afro-Guyanese, East Indians, Amerindians and others.
Ross Village is an agriculture-based place where the men do more than one job to have a good life and the women assist on the farms and some go out of the village for work.
Ross is bordered by the Atlantic Ocean, the backlands and the villages of Yeoville and Brahan.
Its main sources of income are rice, cash-crop farming and livestock-rearing, with a handful of residents having small businesses and a few fishermen.
Ross Village has a newly built community centre located on the public road, which is yet to be commissioned, a ballfield with a newly constructed basketball court outfitted with lights for night games and a separate field for gymkhanas.
The nearest market is in Bath Village and children attend nearby schools.
Ross Village is a place where there is an abundance of fruit trees and vegetables, the home of tomatoes, mangoes, five finger, cherries and many other fruits.
The landmark of the village is a large mango tree by the roadside, where there is conveniently a shop called “Mango Tree Bar” noted for its signature chicken wings.
This mango tree is said to be about 70 years old and was planted by a villager who passed away 15 years ago when she was in her late 80s.
The village is considered the ‘breadbasket’ of West Coast Berbice, where wholesalers from neighbouring villages would visit to buy the produce of villagers.
According to residents, it is a place where there are many home-grown fruits and vegetables to never go hungry.
The Pepperpot Magazine upon entry into the village, met a group of villagers who were chatting under the age-old mango tree where there is a shop owned and operated by Afolabi Peters, better known as “Attie.”
Peters has a flatscreen television in his shop and the men of the village would visit to watch cricket or football and indulge in ‘gaffs’ or a few drinks.
“The shop is like the ‘meeting place’ for locals every day and we put on a pot by the roadside and have a good time here as village people,” he said.
Peters is a local but left the village when he was 17 years old and relocated to the city. At age 28 he migrated to Barbados, where he worked for some time and developed his skill of painting.
Peters returned to Guyana at age 38 and began working with his brother.
He is a painter by profession who works with his brother’s construction company based in Georgetown and would only leave his village to go to the hinterland for work.
“I like this village and would never leave it to go live anywhere else, because I done accustomed to it and life is nice here,” he said.
The painter stated that Ross Village is a place of skilled people and they produce what they need and sell, but there is a limited market for their harvest; as such, fruits go to waste.
“Right now is mango season and we have a lot of it here, but what are we going to do with it?” he asked.
Peters said there is need for a food-processing plant to utilise the many fruits to make jams or preserve them for both local and export consumption.
He reported that the village grows a lot of five fingers, watermelons, soursops, cherries and mangoes, but they are being wasted because they have no market to sell them.
Peters stated that with a processing plant they can do so much with the fruits and that initiative would increase the livelihoods of the people there.
A village with multi-talented people
Peters told the Pepperpot Magazine that the young people of Ross Village are quite talented and are very good sportsmen as well.
He explained that the men of the village are good at basketball and cricket, while there is a need to get the young ladies involved in volleyball.
Peters added that they need professional help in terms of coaching and some assistance with sports gear.
“We have the people with skills, but we need that boost with regards to professional coaching for the youths, especially because they can fashion themselves after a role model,” he said.
The youths are also good at music, songwriting and singing, but there is no facility for them to meet up to realise their true potential and a music teacher will be good to have at least a few days per week.
Peters added that the young people can also play various instruments and they just need some guidance and things will fall into place.
Peters noted that if they have workshops and classes, the youths will benefit, as such, more emphasis needs to be placed on the young people to equip them with the skills set needed for the world of work.