-from muddy tracks to asphalt roads, electricity and potable water
An East Bank Demerara community that was once without potable water, electricity, and roadways has now reinvented the image that the term “squatting area” usually portrays.
That transformation is mainly due to the efforts of Doreen Matheson Scipio, a retired social worker.
Residents of that community, known as the Friendship Squatting Area, are grateful for the social works that Scipio has done and is still doing for the village.
Scipio has acted as the voice for her community by lobbying for living amenities that have enhanced the quality of living for herself and other residents.
It was quite a number of years ago, when Mrs. Scipio moved to Friendship village. She recalled that the area was void of all basic amenities needed to exist comfortably. Muddy stretches substituted for roads, “jug” lamps were most often substituted for electricity, a lack of a garbage disposal system forced residents to turn to other means and most importantly, there was a lack of potable water. Scipio, in her recollections of her first move to the village explained that being in the situation with her family gave rise to a drive that would later cause her to seek assistance to attain what was needed. She explained that the absence of roads led to the absence of transportation in the village. The long distances in the muddy stretches out of the community-frustrated residents, but not much was being done to rectify this issue.
Scipio was given an opportunity to do just that when she heard about the Community Development Council’s (CDC) project. She made an active effort to register her village, where a council was later formed. This step was the first of many to come for the reinventing of “Friendship Squatting Area’s” image. Scipio was elected both as a councillor and as chairperson for her constituency. Letters were then sent to the various ministers lobbying for the institution of basic amenities for the area.
The most needed, being potable water, was the first major achievement for the village. The majority of homes now have access to potable water. Scipio stated that with the newly constructed council, plans were made for the development of the ‘squatting’ community.
Those plans were later shown to officials who visited.
Scipio explained that it was pertinent for each home to access electricity legally since the many residents were acquiring electricity illegally, and at great risk to life and property.
The Guyana Power and Light responded to Scipio’s proposal, and in turn, the village now has access to electricity. The retired social worker explained that it brings her great joy to see many children whose homes were once without electricity now having access to an amenity that can be quite revolutionary for them. She went on to add, that the older residents who would have never imagined the village to have access to electricity in their time are now elated. Scipio is now lobbying for streetlights.
There is more.
Muddy stretches that villagers once had to put up with are now replaced with asphalt roadways. Villagers are now able to park their cars or drive their vehicles while children do not have to endure muddy feet on their way to school. The implementing of these necessities has affected residents in a great way.
Scipio has also negotiated with a garbage disposal company to pick up each resident’s waste for a small fee. She explained that her community is not what one might expect when one hears its name, and that they have reinvented its image through cooperation.
“We have come a far way, a very far way, and this is all due to the collective efforts of community members. We have garnered unsolicited support from members of this community…It is as if a domino effect has been set off,” she said.
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