Ryan

Ryan Benjamin

North Rupununi District Development Board
North Rupununi, Guyana

An unforgettable trip to French Guiana

Ryan and Bernie's experience of visiting Antecume Pata

July 31, 2014

Ryan Benjamin, one of our COBRA colleagues from Guyana, reports on his recent trip to Antecume Pata. Although the journey from Guyana was long and difficult, Ryan concludes that the enthusiasm of the participants made it worthwhile.

After four days of training with the Colombians (see article 1), Ryan and I traveled to Georgetown to prepare for our trip to the community of Antecume Pata, French Guiana. This involved a whole day’s journey by minibus along the bumpy road from the Rupununi to Georgetown, followed by a week in the city to sort out visa documents. We then flew to Paramaribo, the capital city of Suriname, where we waited another two days before receiving our visas. I will always remember the food in St Laurent, the border city between Suriname and French Guiana which left me with unforgettable memories.

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Once we had arrived in French Guiana, we boarded a 14-seater plane that took us to Maripasula where we met with Celine, our colleague from Royal Holloway. We then took a very busy boat upstream for two hours before arriving at a village with modern houses. We had finally arrived in Antecume Pata!

Shortly after slinging our hammocks and settling in the home of Aurelia, our local colleague, went to meet the chief of the village and some of the participants with whom we chatted for the rest of the day. Soon enough, the moon was rising above the community of Antecume Pata and the music of the river rapids resonated in the night, so we decided to call it a day and went for a good rest. The next morning, feeling bright and breezy after a refreshing shower in the strong river stream, we prepared for the training session with plenty of coffee. We then spent the morning with the participants, introducing them to the COBRA approach and explaining the week’s activities.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERALater in the afternoon we went to try our fishing skills, honed on the Rupununi. Unfortunately, we were not lucky enough to catch even one fish but we enjoyed the experience! The following day’s training got off to a good start with icebreakers and an exercise looking at the history of the community. The participants were also given a chance to get to grips with the photo and video cameras. I felt that there was a lot of positive energy and enthusiasm from the participants.

During the week in Antecume Pata, the participants identified some of the challenges and strengths of their community. The training was also an opportunity for them to implement the co-existence best practice from the North Rupununi, which they chose because they have had very few dealings with other community organisations or NGOs.

The best practice they identified in their community, and which they will document in the following weeks was about new fishing techniques. We felt that the COBRA activities were enthusiastically received by the community. Seeing how much the participants were able to pick-up from relatively short training sessions, I feel confident that Antecume Pata will become another good example of the work that COBRA is able to achieve throughout the Guiana shield.

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