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By Alva Solomon
In 2009, businesswoman Roxana DaSilva and her partner were looking for a place to start a farm in the Cuyuni River in Region Seven when a small creek caught her attention. The creek meandered around the landscape and took them back to the river. It was while exploring the creek that she decided to build a home, at Cumang- becoming the first known inhabitant of the small village.
Cumang got its name from the ‘Cumung Creek’, the waterway which Da Silva and her partner explored. “It is a beautiful, nice, clean creek,” she said .After she and her family settled in, it has so far become the home of 23 persons. It is considered a satellite community of the more developed village of Kurutuku, which lies some 30 minutes away.
Cumang is located close to the Venezuelan border , at the tip of the Cuyuni River, with the community of San Martin across the border, being one of its closest neighbours.
“When we came here, we were looking for a place to build a home, at the same time there was mining at a place called Curisihi,” she said. She and her partner operated a mobile buying and selling business at the time. She said there are gold mines at Eteringbang and it is in that area where DaSilva gets most of her customers for her business.
Settling at Cumang
DaSilva, who is proud of her indigenous roots, said she vividly remembers exploring the creek, noting that its beauty caught her eyes. “That’s when we started cutting and cleaning to put up a camp,” she said of her humble beginnings. The landscape was filled with thick vegetation and it was a challenge to clear the area.
She said the couple built a camp and they were trying to locate a spot to build a home. ”The land was so good we decided to make a living here, as a second home to do farming, rearing of cattle and fishing,” she added, noting that she made all the necessary applications to the authorities to legally reside in the area at the time.
“That is how we ended up here,” she said. The village is halfway between the mining community called ‘ Devil Hole’ and San Martin. She said it is closer to Carebese , an area which is considered the marking of the border. The military has a base there.
To sustain herself and family, Da Silva and her partner initially built a shop at Cumang, and she said that boats would pass daily and people would stop by to purchase food and goods from her shop. ”That is how this place started getting developed,” Da Silva said of the frequency in traffic.
She then built a small hotel and a fastfood spot and over time more families moved to the area while persons fell in love with the riverside landscape. DaSilva said that she employs persons from villages in the area, adding that she makes it her duty to reach out to others.
Football and other events
On weekends and holidays, the village hosts football matches in which the miners compete for the love of the game. It is usually a very relaxed atmosphere. There are also cultural events which are sometimes live streamed from the area via broadband internet services.
DaSilva said the Toshao from nearby Kurutuku invites her and other persons to be a part of the village activities regularly and it is through this arrangement that she contributes to the development of the remote villages there. “When I could afford , I reach out to them ,” she said. She said she is developing her farmland and according to her this is the main economic activity at Cumang. She has cattle, poultry and several crops from which the family sustains itself. Fishing is also one of the main sources of food for her and other residents.
In terms of security , the Guyana Defence Force (GDF) has a base about 10 minutes away from Cumang and according to DaSilva this is one of the reasons she decided to make the area her home, noting that she feels assured by the presence of the military close by. She said that thankfully, there are minimal health issues at Cumang.
At the last elections, the Guyana Elections Commission (GECOM) utilised her business spot as an official place of voting and according to DaSilva, she is usually called upon to assist the authorities as a base for health teams on outreaches.
In terms of access, she travels to the village via Eteringbang since there are frequent flights between the Eugene F Correia International Airport at Ogle and the latter location. One can also travel to Cumang from Parika , a trip which lasts approximately 16 hours when the water is low. At the moment the water in the Cuuyuni is high and as such , the trip lasts approximately 8 hours.
She said the area has seen flood waters rise sharply in recent weeks, a historic first for the area but DaSilva is hoping that it recedes quickly. She said it has been receding over the past several days.
Da Silva said she is optimistic that Cumang will continue to develop and according to her , the village’s development process which she started along with her partner, is slowly becoming more recognised.