Apoteri

Apoteri

Apoteri is located at the confluence of the white Rupununi and black Essequibo Rivers. It is approximately 2.5 hours, during high water season, from the administrative centre of Annai. The village is the most remote of the North Rupununi communities.

History

Apoteri is an old Carib village known in the days of Schomburgk and Im Thurn. It was a stopping point for travelers exploring the hinterland of Guyana in the early 1800s. Today Apoteri is known for its role in the trade of balata. The Garnett Company was one of the collection centres for the balata sheets, which were sent down the river for export. People came from all over the region to bleed balata, especially from the South Rupununi and settled near the site as result. With the decline in the balata trade the site was taken over by Guyana Stores Limited, which sought to farm sheep and other crops. This proved unsuccessful and the company closed its doors in the mid-1980s.

Culture and Religion

Because of its balata bleeding history the village is predominantly Wapishana with Makushi, and Patamona. The village population current stands at 600. Its isolation in part has helped the village to continue to maintaining their traditional way of living including farming, hunting and fishing. Despite its isolation the general culture of the people are changing from purely Amerindian to a mixture of practices. One adaptation is its religious beliefs. The village now has two churches Anglican and Christian Brethren. Other influences include music, food and ways of dressing brought back by those visiting other locations especially Brazil. These new influences do not affect community togetherness. The villagers can be seen working on community self-help projects and celebrating special occasions. They also organize sport events with other communities helping the people to keep connected and promote positive relations. .

Social & Economic Characteristics

Its isolation makes Apoteri villagers still heavily reliant on subsistence farming and hunting for their survival. Any excess products are sold to the shops in Annai. For an income villagers may periodically harvest quantities of fish for sale. Some members hold some jobs in the public section mainly as teachers and as community health workers. At time there is part-time work created by projects being implemented in the village.

Challenges & Opportunities

The distance from the economic and administrative centres is one of the main challenges the village faces as there are very few job opportunities for villagers, especially the youths. This causes them to leave the village in search for jobs and many end up in the mining areas. Other challenges faced by the community include poor leadership, the lack of properly trained teachers and insufficient supply of the health centre.

Despite these challenges, the village has the advantage to be titled and to be able to manage its resources without external assistance. Its location presents it with high biodiversity and beautiful scenery that can be tapped for ecotourism development. Children from the village attend the Annai Secondary School and the Bina Hill Institute, thereby increasing the human resources available for the village. Other villagers have gained skills learned through workshops and on the job training at institutions like the Iwokrama International Centre.

QUICK DOWNLOAD: Check out the English version of the COBRA Handbook for Practitioners.