IF a Scottish woman can visit Pakuri only once and decide to make it her permanent home, then imagine how privileged 35-year-old Alicia Hendricks feels to have been raised in the “cultural capital” for Amerindians.
Not only was she born and raised in the village, formerly known as St. Cuthbert’s Mission, but Ms. Hendricks has made a career choice that will forever benefit her community.
On September 1, 2005—the beginning of the month that is designated to honour the country’s Indigenous Peoples, Alicia started working with the National Agricultural Research and Extension Institute (NAREI) as an Extension Officer, having graduated from the Guyana School of Agriculture (GSA).
Her reason for entering the agriculture sector was simple—farming is the backbone of the village and as a child whenever there were pests or diseases affecting crops, it would take weeks before farmers receive any technical assistance. As such, Alicia decided that she was going to be the technical person in the village.
While her family was not big into farming, they had a kitchen garden which supplied them with vegetables on a daily basis and she was very much involved in its upkeep. Today, a proud Hendricks does what she loves most—helping her village people plant healthy crops.
As an Extension Officer, Alicia is tasked with providing technical advice to farmers. “I help them to protect their crops from pests and disease and make recommendations,” she said.
Ms. Hendricks visits the farmlands almost daily to monitor the crops of large and small-scale farmers. Sometimes, the farmers even visit her home or the Village’s council office, where she is based, for assistance.
Plantain, cassava, eddo, bora, watermelon and ochra are some of the crops in which the farmers iinvest. Asked what she loves the most about her village, which is home to approximately 200 households, the young woman responded, “Plunging in the black water on a hot sunny day.” She said too that the village offers an adventurous life. “Here is far different than city life. I can go and pick coconuts or lime from a tree but in the city, I have to go to the market and purchase it.”
In her spare time, when she is not busy helping her fellow villagers, Williams enjoys surfing the internet, watching television, reading and meeting visitors to the community. In fact, the young woman hopes to one day start a family in the village so that her children can experience the love the villagers have for each other.
Pakuri was founded in the late 1800s by Joseph Ferguson, who was also the village’s Chief. It is named after the Platonia trees that were then plentiful in the area. The village was renamed St. Cuthbert’s Mission when the first Anglican missionaries arrived at the village and founded a mission there on Saint Cuthbert’s Day in 1889. Early this month, President David Granger gave approval for the name of the village to be changed back to Pakuri.