March: the month of my return. This blog will be pretty much the same as my last, but I’m so glad to say it concludes with a transatlantic flight and a long sought-after return to Matthew’s Ridge.
The month started just as February ended. I’d manage to establish a steady routine of work, seeing friends, and weight-gain – which is exactly what I wanted.
Although premature, this was my first time being in Glasgow as an 18 year-old and I wanted to make the most of it. One thing that I did miss in Guyana was live music, and so I was keen to go to gigs during my time at home. They were great, and I feel serve as an example of me doing what I could to better the unfortunate circumstances.
I noted that I was putting on weight faster than I’d anticipated, and so decided to start the ball rolling for my return fairly early. And I’m glad I did, because it was a bit of a process. My GP was happy to give me a letter of good health after seeing my progress, and I thought this would be pretty much all that would be required for me to go back. However, Project Trust and the insurance company quite understandably wanted an affirming second opinion, and so put my in touch with an independent organisation they consult. I spoke to one of their doctors on the phone, and after which a report was put together that outlines their satisfaction for me to go back. Some time passed, and then I was told that I needed yet another opinion, and so an appointment was arranged for the following week (over an hour away from my house!). As expected, this consultation led to the same positive result, and this ultimately led Project Trust to allow me to go back to Guyana.
This all took what felt like a long while and although frustrating at times, it really goes to show the care and concern of Project Trust – they wouldn’t let me go back unless they were 100% confident it was in my best interest. I really appreciate what they’ve done for me – particularly Peter (sorry for the constant bombardment of messages and emails demanding updates!).
Anyway, after all the correct documentation has been produced things happened remarkably quickly. Within a week of Project receiving the final medical report I was experiencing déjà vu as I said farewell to my family for the second time.
It was different than the first however: no emotion, no feeling of an adventurous journey into the unknown, but simply a restoration of how things should be. I liked that. The fact that everything happened so quickly also meant that there wasn’t the same countdown and build-up as before – I essentially had two days to get my things in order before my departure.
My journey to Matthew’s Ridge was as condensed as it possibly could be, but was still pretty long. I left Killearn at 5am UK time on Thursday, and arrived in Georgetown at 11pm Guyana time the same day. 5 hours of sleep, a taxi ride, and one final short flight was all it then took to get me to Ridge. I was shattered when I arrived, and went straight to bed.
I headed to the school after waking up, and it was great to see all of the students and teachers again. I could now tell everyone that I was back and here to stay – a nice change to my last visit. Lots of the kids came up to me and said something along the lines of “Welcome back Sir! You got fat!”. I’ll take that as a complement, under the circumstances. There wasn’t a great deal of work for me to do on that day, so after helping Miss Monique with some of her marking, I headed home and joined the volleyball game which was happening on the court that’s seemed to appear in our front garden. Classic Guyana.
Speaking of change, I can’t help but notice the scale of the mining operation that’s now commenced. It was just getting started when I was leaving, but now seems to be a full-scale operation – huge GMI trucks are regularity passing through the village, lots of people in mining uniforms can be seen walking about, there are even two additional planes coming into Ridge daily chartered by the mine. On the negative side, large areas of what was once rainforest have been completely striped bare which is sad to see, but I think the economic development the project will bring to the community shall be well worth it. One of my friends who was once a security guard working 12-hour shifts 6 days a week is now working for the mine. He’s paid more, has more free time, and is generally just so much happier it seems – and he’s just one example.
I’ll properly start work again next week, and I’m really looking forward to getting back into the swing of things. Missing these two months would’ve have been my choice, but the past is behind me now, and at least I’m back where I should be!