By Alex Wayne
We have heard tales of poor drainage, ethnic divisions, water woes and many other issues, and have also enjoyed juicy little village gossips here and there; but here we were in a quaint little village with striking picturesque beauty, a village that appeared to be resting peacefully as it expectantly awaits the dawn of modern transformation.
We were in the village of Good Faith, located some 62 miles from the city of Georgetown, and nestled neatly between the larger villages of Recess and Novar. Good Faith is predominantly populated by residents of East Indian descent, there are however a few Amerindians, and maybe one or two Afro-Guyanese residing there as well.
Quiet and stirring serenity
I landed in the village just around midday, with the scorching rays of the sun beating down mercilessly on me. Squinting my eyes from its glare, I looked around and was somewhat disturbed by the almost eerie stillness that seemed to beset the village. There was no one in the streets; here and there I could see a few housewives peeping sheepishly from behind drawn curtains.
In the distance vapours seemed to be rising. The almost suffocating heat was taking its toll, especially since I had not equipped myself with an umbrella. So engrossed was I in my discomfort, that I almost jumped out of my skin when a car horn suddenly blared right behind. I jumped out of the way and spinning around realized it was a few of my relatives all giggling in a car, just returning from shopping at the Central Mahaicony market. The driver who was actually my first cousin had spotted me from afar and had almost silenced his car engine, as he eased the vehicle right up behind me.
I did not hesitate to accept a ride, instructing them to drop me at ‘Uncle Jaio’ residence, which many years ago was a very thriving variety and house supplies facility in the village. But things have really changed…The bustling activity that would have surrounded this entity is no more. There was no raucous laughter or the chatter of men imbibing at the liquor garden that was also part of the establishment. As a matter of fact, the building was locked and seemingly engulfed in a somewhat unsettling quiet.
A dog came out from the yard and cocking its head looked at me in a manner, as if questioning my reason for trespassing. As I moved to pick up a stone, the dog yelped and darted into the yard snarling and baring its teeth in defiance.I decided to then visit the once popular Gulf City Hotel, and realized that this facility too was almost void of any form of activity. In times gone by this was a very popular joint where villagers from other locations would travel to indulge in their varying desires, and enjoy music and beers from a well stocked bar and sports club. The building now looked bare and unkempt, and there were bushes in some sections of the compound. Stopping a young boy to enquire of its operations, I was quite taken back when he swore under his breath and responded, “Dah run down place!!! Nobady don’t really guh deh… Dat place stink and full ah rats.”
For distraction sake, I occupied my mind by soaking in the picturesque beauty of the very quiet village. The striking fusion of sandy dams, endearing trails and alleyways, coupled with the array of fruit laden mango trees, added a somewhat appealing ‘countryside ambiance’ to the location. I just marveled at the bush fishes darting about in crystal clear water in the drains that gurgled almost merrily alongside the access dams.
The array of quaint little cottage houses were just perfect in hues and shades most associated with countryside villages. And you have to hand it to this village…Over the years quite a few impressive buildings have sprung, adding a somewhat modern aura in some sections as well.
Sprawling pastures extended to the back of the village, with cattle and sheep munching greedily on lush grass and shrubs.
Somehow the spread of dense, lush vegetation, shrubs and abundant fruit trees created a dream paradise, and the sedate and homely way in which the posh little houses were nestled amongst the trees gave a striking yester-year charm to the village.
Coconut and tamarind trees swayed lazily in the Atlantic breeze, and juicy looking mangoes and sapodillas hung from several trees, tempting me to climb up and savour their ready sweetness. And there seemed to be a few genip tress that were still sporting their popular fruit, and the legendary ‘whitie fruit’ was in abundance as the branches strained with the weight of their ripened burden.
There was a certain hush about the village as it seemed to slumber in peace. Instead, it seemed as if the village had a mind of its own, and was just enjoying the luxuries of fresh wind and tropical flowers as it looked over gratifyingly at the first few signs of modern transformation that were evolving from within its environs.
Cattle, sheep and goats were grazing quite contentedly in the pastures, and they seemed to be beaming with delight too, taking into consideration the fact that they had a vast variety of juicy looking shrubs, grass, and other plant species to choose from.
Good Faith in days gone by
I was directed to an elderly resident, Mohan Singh, who spoke on the makings of the village from the olden days to present day.
“Way back in the 1950s Good Faith was a ‘very bushy settlement’ where one had to climb a tree to view the few buildings in the area. However, the level of ‘harmony and deep love’ between the few that lived here was always very touching. I ‘barn’ (born) and grow up in this village and ah neva left it fuh guh live nowhere else. In me time as a lil bai if the village had about seven house if it had suh much… The whole place was full ah bush and plenty fruit trees like wha yuh still ah see hay today. All we could ah see was nuff bush, tall trees and big wide open fields. We nah bin get no shap (shop) and dem thing dah. We had to travel far fuh get grocery and good drinking watah (water). Most people used to bile (boil) de watah fram de riva (river) and use it fuh drink and to cook food. We nah had no street lights and de place used to be ‘pitch black’ at night time…Rice farming was always a big thing and some villagers planted rice in the back dam areas of the village,” Singh said.
He explained that as time went by, persons descended on the location which was popular for its rich farming soil and soon began to purchase plots of land for building. Hence today the village is one of the more pleasant locations in the Mahaicony District.
Although Good Faith is still caught in the grips of gradual development, it still holds its aura of simplicity that is further accentuated by the pleasant demeanour of residents who exist in great humility.
Today residents there are still employed as farmers, a few carpenters and shop keepers in some cases. Of course there are quite a few cattle farmers still around.
Silochnie Persaud, a housewife, indicated that unemployment was a major setback for the village since students who would have written CXC examinations are at home, with almost no employment avenues in the village. She noted that just a few who relocated to the city obtained good jobs but they often cannot afford the expenses of housing, and other city responsibilities.
She noted that because of this reason there are several young and intelligent men and women remaining in the village who are deeply frustrated by the problem of unemployment. She added that all the schools outside of the village would have been already filled with teachers thus making it impossible at times to access employment.
Inadequate recreational opportunities were also another issue that seemed to peeve Mrs. Persaud. “Good Faith is in dire need of adequate recreational facilities for the youths. Our village is still underdeveloped and allows no scope for them to further or develop their skills and talents. As it is we are very contented and are glad with the peace we enjoy here but we are hoping that authorities can look into our welfare a little more,” she said.
I was lucky to bump into Pertab Singh, who was a student I taught while being employed as a teacher at the Belladrum Primary School. He is presently residing in the city where he is employed as a clerk at the Guyana Revenue Authority (GRA) but visits the village at every given opportunity since he is drawn by its makings.
“‘Sir’ it’s a pleasure to see that you are focusing on this little village. Though I have moved to the city I come back to this village at least twice per month to mingle with residents and to enjoy the peaceful atmosphere. This is by far one of the most beautiful and peaceful and quiet village In Mahaicony. Residents here are very contented, peaceful people who live here with deep love and unity. It is the rich camaraderie we have here that keeps me coming back. I am always drawn to this village for its simplicity and the humble existence of our villagers. We ain’t get no fancy business places or big time shops and such likes here. But we exist quite fine and in peace with each other. In this village, everyone looks out for each other and there are no racial differences here. In Good Faith, everyone live as one….” Singh shared.
He chatted with me at his gate and from there I could see a pot bubbling on a mud fireside under his house, emitting an aroma that caused my stomach to growl in anticipation. He explained that he was cooking his favourite meal of pigeon peas cook-up rice and salted fish, with pig tail to add that special ‘countryside zing’ to it. Being a man who makes hygiene a priority, he was also burning his garbage nearby since he claimed he was afraid of airborne diseases and those carried by mosquitoes.
Livelihood and entertainment
With a very small population, the residents of Good Faith seem not to be too interested in entertainment. There are just a few youths and grown men in the village, and those who are more adventurous would settle for having ‘a little tups’ in the rum shops in the evenings. Of course a few birthday and wedding celebrations would spring up every now and then but that aside, residents confine themselves to the comfort of their homes and listen to music or watch television.
There are still a few rice farmers left in the village, and they are desperately trying to keep their trade alive. That aside, a few still manage kitchen gardens from which they get a regular fresh supply of vegetables.
Come prance under moonlight clouds on a starry night, or climb into a guava tree and drink in gulfs of Atlantic wind. Give heed to adventure and catch ‘bush fish’ in the muddy back dam drains, or savour the taste of pickled country mangoes, made fresh from trees right in the back yard.
Drink your fill of fresh, cool water coconuts, or gather genips, mangoes, and tamarind, as many as you can take.
Whatever you do, it would be a shame not to visit and enjoy the tranquility of Good Faith Village. Join us next Sunday, when we visit the interesting village of First Savanna, located in the Mahaicony River.
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