‘We finally feel like Guyanese’ – Baracara connected to the NDMA eGovernment Network

Residents of Baracara Village now have an eGovernment ICT Hub in their community and hope that the presence of free internet in the village will aid in the improvement of their agricultural practices while decreasing the migration of the village’s young people.

A team from the National Data Management Authority (NDMA) visited the village in early October to begin the process of connecting the community to the NDMA’s eGovernment Network. This included the installation of solar panels, a satellite and a donation of 10 laptops at the Baracara Community Centre. Baracara residents were in full support during the exercise which saw scores of residents aiding the NDMA technicians in the mounting of the satellite and other infrastructural works.  The installation was completed on October 19, and the residents expressed that the internet will help the residents in many ways.

Residents and NDMA team members mounting the satellite

“We finally feel like Guyanese,”; “This is real happiness,”; “We are extremely grateful for this,” were some of  the sentiments expressed by various residents, who said that for years they have felt neglected and forgotten, but that this feeling has slowly begun to change with significant efforts made by this administration which included the donation of a 20-seater speed boat by RUBIS under President David Granger’s Boats, Buses, Bicycles, Breakfast and Books (Five Bs) Initiative; and now the addition of an ICT Hub, which is part of the President’s vision to provide free internet access in poor, remote and hinterland communities.

The Village, which is located 42 miles from New Amsterdam, Region Six, sits on the Canje River and is accessible only by an hour-and a half’s journey by speedboat. Residents claim Baracara’s population – which now stands at approximately 350 persons- was much bigger, but has seen a rapid decrease over the years due to  a lack of modern amenities, employment and other facilities.

“When I was growing up, over the other side of the bank use to have houses, but people either die out or migrate,” said the Village’s oldest resident, known to everyone only as ‘Papi’. The 84-year-old man, who said that he has seen a computer only once before in his life, was elated to see how the device was used and was also fascinated to observe the use of the NDMA’s drone which was used to capture images of the ongoing work at the Community Centre building. “I glad I come here today, or I would never have gotten to see this [drone] or these computers,” he said.

‘Papi’ examining a computer up close for the first time

Papi explained that he has lived in Baracara all his life and that he did not move primarily because of his financial inability to do so, but he is glad that he stayed because the village is his home and he would not trade his life spent there for any other experience. He stated, though, that he wishes to see more employment opportunities and modern amenities be implemented in Baracara, which would encourage the young people- many of whom leave the village and do not return- to stay and develop the village. “There are about at least 50 young people who have finished school here and who do not have any work… If we get things like the internet in this district then there would be less need to go and stay in Georgetown. I am very glad to know that this plan is coming,” he said.

Residents using the internet on their mobile devices after being connected on the eGovernment network

Baracara is a predominantly Afro-Guyanese community and is believed to be a former maroon settlement which dates back to the 1800s.  Houses and facilities are located along the banks of the river and residents use boats to get from place to place. There is no electricity in the village, except for a few residents who can afford generators, and there is one landline phone which is located at the Baracara Community Health Centre. Residents are primarily involved in logging, cane, rice, ground provision and coffee cultivation. Since assuming office, President David Granger visited the community twice; first, in 2015- which marked the first occasion that a sitting president had visited the village in almost 33 years, and then in 2016 to commission the speed boat. Residents said that the NDMA’s move to bring connectivity in the village as part of the President’s vision was highly anticipated and a “dream come true”.