Orealla is an Amerindian village on the Corentyne river, about three hours by speedboat from the nearest town, Corriverton.
The Corentyne river spans the border between Surinam and Guyana, so there is an element of Surinamese (Dutch) influence in the village. The population is about 1000 and the village council are a dynamic and progressive group who are trying to develop the village for the better.
The community is warm and friendly and supportive of the volunteers. You will be working in the Primary School, which has set up a Secondary programme for the first three years of secondary school and will be required to teach Maths and/or Science and perhaps IT or English.
You will live in a wooden purpose built Ministry house. Raised on stilts, the house faces onto two large mango trees and the river. It is large and spacious with good sized rooms and toilet and shower but bathing is normally done in the Corentyne river. The house comes with a little balcony for you to hang up your hammock and relax in. You cater for yourself, and buy your food locally but often the volunteers are invited to eat in homes of the villagers.
Life in Guyana
Although Guyana is a former British colony and the only English speaking country in South America, very few people are familiar with this fascinating and diverse country. Guyana means ‘Land of Many Waters’ in Amerindian and it justifies its name with over 965 miles of navigable river. Georgetown is positioned at the mouth of the famous Demerara River in the heart of a tropical coastal strip. It is rich with coconut palms, sugar and banana plantations and has a definite Caribbean atmosphere.
The interior feels like a different country, sparsely populated and made up of virgin rain forest, mountain ranges and dry open savannah. It feels far more South American than the coast and is populated mainly by native Amerindians, living in traditional rural communities. The interior is a challenging place to travel during your holidays. One of the exciting things about Guyana is that there is little to no tourism, indeed it is hard to find any up to date guidebooks.
Despite its many natural resources Guyana is underdeveloped with a poor infrastructure and high unemployment. The AIDS rate is the highest in the Caribbean and it periodically suffers from ethnic unrest. The majority of the population are either Indo Guyanese or Afro Guyanese but the interior is predominantly populated by Amerindians. This diversity of ethnicity makes for a rich cultural experience for anybody lucky enough to be spending a year here. It is a beautiful country full of welcoming, friendly people.
Desk Officer Chris Hitch recently visited Project Trust’s volunteers in Guyana. Here are five things
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