SOME say that paradise is a place and can be found where things are nice but the Jeffrey family, an extended group of descendants from the Warrau tribe said they have found paradise and it is where they live.
John Jeffrey is considered the leader in his village, the pastor and the village elder, who is most respected and oversees everything among his family members. He is the caretaker of Camp Alpha which is located on the Soesdyke/Linden Highway and just across the highway is a small village called Omega.
The Jeffrey clan occupy the community and they are a God-fearing bunch, who are very peaceful people. The 60-year-old told the Pepperpot Magazine that he is originally from Region One (Barima-Waini), a small village, but left the place in search of a better life after marriage.
He was offered a job as the caretaker for the Assembly of God Church Camp Alpha, which is on the highway and we settled there in 2000. Most of his nine children were born there, the only place they know and across from where the church camp is Jeffrey’s children and their spouses and children began occupying.
When he began living there, it was thick bush and he cleared a part and houses were constructed; they began living in the village they developed and called it Omega. Jeffrey and his children have been occupying the land for two decades and have made the place into a lovely oasis.
He explained that it wasn’t an easy decision to relocate to Omega Village, considering he had to leave everything in his home village. Jeffrey added that over time he began to get accustomed to the environment, adapted to the simple way of life and decided he wanted to stay and have a place where his entire family can live.
He stated that gradually they progressed in life and they have reached a point where they can be comfortable with what they have. Jeffrey noted that they are cultivating some crops and when they harvest them, they use them in their kitchens and buy what they need.
He disclosed that the soil isn’t fertile such as that in Region One and they have to use chicken or cow manure to accelerate healthy growth of the crops. “We are surviving by God’s grace and in terms of work, we do whatever is available and try to make ends meet, because there are no stable jobs in these parts and we have to do whatever work we get and most men leave the village for work, on farms, poultry farms, sawmills etc.,” he said.
Jeffrey reported that he has 28 grandchildren in total and has nine children, all grown, married and live in their own houses in Omega Village. He pointed out that the first building constructed in Omega Village is the church and it is just as you enter the community, which is a few metres off the highway and is accessible.
Jeffrey explained that since they began occupying the land no one ever came forward to claim ownership; but in 2018 a man showed up with the relevant documents, purporting to be the owner and he did not come alone, he had two cops with long guns and they threatened them. He continues to return to intimidate the villagers and even began grading the land and uprooted trees; they did not know what to do and visited the Ministry of Amerindian Affairs to get help.
Jeffrey discussed the matter with an attorney and an injunction was filed in court to stop the man, who claimed he owns the land from doing work on the land or visiting and they are awaiting the outcome. The village leader/elder told the Pepperpot Magazine that since the incident they have been feeling a bit unhappy, because their lives were disturbed and they do not feel safe, because the man returned even after the injunction was filed with armed police to threaten them again.
Jeffrey sad he had to stand up boldly to the man and the police, who wanted to arrest him after they refused to vacate the land. He reported that a village meeting is expected with the Neighbourhood Democratic Council (NDC) executives and Chairman and they too, have since approached Lands and Survey to address the land issue.
A total of 40 residents are living at Omega Village and it consists of nine families. “I am asking for help or advice on how to deal with the land issue, because it is a scenic and quiet place and we do not wish to be relocated,” he said.
The boundary of the village has since been fenced off. The nearest creek at the rear of the village is five miles away by foot and the people store rain water for drinking and cooking. In order for them to get electricity they have to show ownership of the land before they can apply for the service as advised by the Guyana Power and Light Company.
Omega Village benefitted from two solar-powered street lights which was placed in the village by the Neighbourhood Democratic Council (NDC).