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– Young leader foresees a bright future for famous community
By Alva Solomon
For years , residents of Morawhanna in the Mabaruma sub-region believed they were left in the cold by the authorities but a young resident has taken up the mantle to rebuild the famous port-of-entry community to the status it once held.
“I was born and raised here at Morawhanna and I plan to ensure that this community develop and be the number one community in the region,” said 20-year-old Timaul Rufino. In April this year, the young man came into the spotlight in Region One when the community of some 80 to 90 residents elected him to the post of chair of the Community Development Council (CDC).
At first he was hesitant about the position since he was unsure about how the community would react to him being their leader. But several days before Nomination Day in April this year for the community elections, Timaul was walking down the narrow road at Morawhanna when he met and elder. The elder suggested he be the new CDC chair and Timaul said he was surprised by the man’s suggestion.
He said several days later he met another elderly resident who also encouraged him to be the community’s leader. “He said I should think about it because they needed someone young and who is disciplined and educated ,” the young leader noted.
Timaul then encountered more villagers and when Nomination Day arrived, he was still hesitant about taking part in the elections. “It had another candidate and he was campaigning so I didn’t think I would have a chance,” the young man noted. Nevertheless, he accepted the nomination and on elections day, his nerves were out of control since he didn’t see himself being the winner. But he was sure that the elders in the village were backing him and as such he awaited the results with some degree of hope.
Finally, that afternoon when the results were announced, he was adjudged the winner by 6 votes and from that day, he started working on his plans for transforming Morawhanna.
He said he met with the 8 other members of the council and he suggested a clean-up campaign was badly needed since the lone road at the waterfront community was overrun by bushes over the years. He said the other councillors supported the move and days later he approached the Guyana Defence Force Coastguard base as well as the police at Morawhanna for help.
“The coastguard head look at me and said you is the CDC chair, you look so small,” the young man chuckled. Timaul said he was positive about his plans and as such he informed the officer about the clean-up exercise. The Coastguard official immediately agreed to providing assistance through the ranks station there. The police also agreed to help and that Sunday morning, the team along with residents started working on the rebuilding process. “We clean up the area and try to make it look good,” he said.
Next, he said as a young man growing in the community, he observed the lack of social activities and this he noted impacted the youths of the area. Alcohol and substance abuse needed to be addressed and he noted that this was also placed at the level of the CDC. He also received support from the body and it was agreed that a playfield will be constructed at the edge of the community to keep the youth of the area occupied.
The following weekend villagers , with assistance from the police and coastguard teamed up and started clearing a section of land for the playfield. ”It’s a lot of work, we did the under-bushing but we have to now clear some roots and so before it can look like a playfield,” he said. Noting that it is one of his dreams, the young leader said he plans to approach to government for assistance in furthering the construction of the playfield.
He said this section of the village, located near Father’s Creek, was drained sometime in 2018 by the former government. The main populated areas remain waterlogged and he noted that this section needs to be drained. He said recent flooding saw the need for more drainage and irrigation works and according to him, a team from the government as well as the National Drainage and Irrigation Authority (NDIA) visited Morawhanna recently to provide assistance in draining the area.
Timaul told the Village Voice that although Morawhanna’s population is small, its residents have a high literacy level and he noted too that more than 95% of the residents are farmers. Ginger, plantains, cassava and potatoes are some of the main crops cultivated at the community and according to him, he plans to introduce a agro-proceccing venture at the community. “This is something we need here , we can bottle pepper, cassareep and package other items,” he said. In addition , he noted that the area is well-known for crab-catching and as such packaging the crabs for export is another option the community can explore.
The young leader said that he plans to inform the council and residents accessing funding from the government for this venture. He believes that as a small community, the residents can transform the area economically via agriculture.
Recent rains saw severe flooding at various parts of Morawhanna and Timaul noted that some farmers lost all their crops. He said some agriculture officials visited the area and pledged to assist the farmers in replanting their crops. He said the scale of the damage is still being ascertained.
The young leader enrolled in a Community Health Worker training exercise earlier this year at Mabaruma, the region’s capital town.He said once he completes the programme he will return to Morawhanna to fully concentrate on developing the famous community . “As a young person I plan to rebuild Morawhanna to the number one community status in Region One,” he said with enthusiasm.
Morawhanna, which has a rich Afro-Guyanese heritage , was buzzing with economic potential in the mid-1990s but the riverain community was reduced to a ghost town as erosion coupled with migration as a result of a lack of economic activities took a toll on the area.
The once sprawling community sits some 6 hours by boat from the Venezuelan border. It is located along the left side of the river and is the first port of entry for vessels traversing the waterways to the North West District sub regions of Mabaruma and Matarkai.