Saxacalli – an ancient beauty in a modern time

DPI, Guyana, Tuesday, January 22, 2018

Any lover of nature will find Saxacalli a paradise. This community was formally established in the 1800s through the influence of the Anglican Church. It is also, originally an Arawak community in Essequibo Islands-West Demerara (Region Three) located on the left bank of the Essequibo River some 25 miles from Parika.  In the Arawak language, the word Saxacalli means ‘Kingfisher’.

It is a peaceful community of mainly Indigenous People, who are mainly Christians. The residents attend either the Presbyterian or Seventh Day Adventist churches.

Saxacalli is believed to have one of the best inland beaches in Guyana where many tourists visit. The beach is located at the Saxacalli Mission which is the property of the Presbyterians of Guyana. On this Mission four important buildings of the community stand. These are the Saxacalli Primary School, the Community Centre, the Saxacalli Village Shop and the Community Health Post.

Things to do at Saxacalli include nature walks through the forest on trails that lead to the community, bird watching and fishing and beach activities which range from sports such as cricket and volleyball, swimming and boat rides, to simply relaxing in a hammock under the shade of the overhanging vegetation and enjoying the view of the Essequibo River.

Community Life

The economic activities of the community include logging and fishing. Mining is also done by some residents. There are also small-scale businesses such as poultry farming and cash crop farming. These are mostly derived from the Hinterland Employment Youth Service Programme (HEYS) sponsored by the Ministry of Indigenous Peoples Affairs. This initiative instructs hinterland youths in various life skills which in turn allow them to be self-sufficient and creating an enabling environment in their respective communities.

Saxacalli is managed by a Community Development Council led by Acting Chairman. Helen Williams. It also has a functioning Loggers Association, a Women’s Sewing Group and a Shop Management Committee.

The Village Shop which opened its doors on October 18, 2017, as part of a village day celebration of that year is closely monitored by the Management Committee and sells a variety of household items. The construction of this shop was sponsored by the United Nations Development Project and the Amerindian Development Fund.

The Community Health Post which was built in 2009 is managed by the Community Health Worker Helen Williams. A Health team, comprising of doctors and nurses and other health practitioners from the West Coast and West Bank of Demerara in Region 3, usually visits this community on the second Tuesday in each month. Lilettee Lobert who is friendly and firm was the first Community Health Worker to serve at Saxacalli and is still offering her service to this community.

The Community Centre was built in 1973 and serves a variety of purposes such as wedding receptions, village meetings and the venue for the hosting of different training programmes in the community.

Throughout the many years, the residents of Saxacalli have embarked on many projects such as the building of bridges, the purchasing of a community boat and outboard motors among others. Today villagers can rent the boat and outboard motor at a low cost once they are in need of same for transportation purposes.

For the future villagers have suggested the construction of a Guest House, so persons making official visits to the community can have a comfortable place to rest when the need arises. They are also reviewing the establishment of a boat ramp at a strategic point which will help residents and visitors embark and disembark the boat easily.

Nevertheless, many Saxacallians are very happy and comfortable living in this peaceful community.

Story and Images: Ganesh Mahipaul.