ANATA Jaganan grew up at Windsor Forest, West Coast Demerara, and her family later relocated to Aliki, a riverine village in the Essequibo River, where they had a farm.
The 58-year-old told the Pepperpot Magazine that she grew up really hard, working on the farm at a young age, and they also catch fish.
As an elder child, she was tasked with caring for her siblings while her parents worked on the farm.
Jaganan reported that on June 23, 2023, she will be celebrating her 59th birth anniversary, and she is looking forward to it.
The elder stated that riverine life is hard, and they used to fetch the produce for miles from the backdam to the river, and load it in the boat, after which they would take it to the market to be sold.
The mother of three added that these days, thanks to her children, she is taking things easy, and she spends more time at her daughter’s house in Tuschen, East Bank Essequibo.
When the team visited, she was at another daughter’s house at Baboon Hole Island to spend a few days.
Jaganan disclosed that she has a cataract in one eye, which requires surgery, and she is awaiting a date for that, since they already had a surgical operation for the other eye.
The elder is considered the matriarch of her family, and she is gifted in olden ways like “setting a belly” for women who have difficulties conceiving, and she even delivered a few babies, even though she has no formal medical training.
She considers her skills to be inbred, and has been practising for many years, but she eased up on doing that kind of thing due to ill health.
Jaganan told the Pepperpot Magazine that she delivered her eldest daughter’s baby, her own grandchild, in a boat on the river and she can do many things.
“I love the river life, it is very simple, modest living, but you have enough to get by and there is land to plant and you can catch fish for the pot and it is a stress-free life which is also safe,” she said.
Jaganan has six grandchildren and two great-grandchildren.
Even though she has diabetes, she would still do things around the home to be occupied and she likes a clean and tidy home and surroundings and it was evident that day when the team visited.
Vishal Goordial, the farmer
The team also met Vishal Goordial, a farmer who works at Whitputush Island, Essequibo River and resides with his family at Baboon Hole Island.
The 21-year-old told the Pepperpot Magazine that there are about 20 residents on Baboon Hole Island, most of whom are farmers.
He related that he is originally from Lanaballi but settled on the island about three years ago.
“Farming is manual labour and it is hard work, day after day hoping for a good production of crops but at times the weather is bad and the entire cultivation is flooded and there is a great loss, but life goes on, we have to start all over again,” he said.
Goordial stated that as a riverine resident, they don’t have a lot of opportunities and they only way of earning is farming and they must do it despite many challenges, the biggest being flooding, high cost of farming materials among other things.
The farmer added that framing is viable once there is a healthy harvest, but with climate change, it has been difficult for some time to achieve any real profit.
Goordial disclosed that riverine residents are hardworking people who utilised the islands in the Essequibo River to farm and earn.
He pointed out that they would use English island, Fort Island, Worm Hole Island and the other surrounding islands to cultivate crops and rear livestock.
Goordial told the Pepperpot Magazine that it doesn’t matter where you live but it has a lot to do how you choose to live and what you do to become gainfully employed.