Life in St.Cuthbert’s Mission, Guyana

Life in St. Cuthbert’s Mission, Guyana is HOT!

I wake up sweating. I fall asleep sweating. I eat sweating. I teach sweating. The only time I am not sweating is when I’m showering. And just so we’re clear, when I say sweat, I mean PERSPIRE!

The temperature here is about 43°C, all year round. Due to the heat, most Guyanese people shower twice a day. I shower morning and night.
I am lucky that St. Cuthbert’s has running water. Though some people have a shower, I do not and as such I have mastered the art of bucket showering!
First, I wash my face, then I dip a small container into the water bucket and pour the water over my head. I do this twice. Then I lather up my hair and body, dip and pour, dip and pour, dip and pour. Done!

I also have a toilet which flushes by pouring a bucket of water down the hole. Electricity comes on every night between 6:30pm-9:30pm. This was especially surprising to me!

My house in St.Cuthbert's Mission at sunset

My expectations prior to my trip were not high in terms of development standards but I live in a concrete house and many of the villagers also live in small concrete houses or houses built out of wood on stilts to evade flooding. Floods happen from time to time during the rainy season and thunderstorms happen 2-3 times a day! Here, you can actually see and hear the rain coming. I’ve watched people literally run from the rain.

Guyana is a very lush country with about 80% of it covered by jungle. The men in this village work in lumber or in mining while the women stay home and look after the children. Children go to school from nursery to Grade 11 and classes run from 8:30am-2:30pm.

Primary School children love to learn!

The two biggest challenges St. Cuthbert’s Mission faces are literacy and sanitation. As such, my volunteer partner and I teach literacy at the schools from Grades 1-11 and work with the locals developing sanitation workshops and drainage projects. In addition we have some side projects which include entrepreneurship, computer education, and health and fitness workshops.

The water in this river is black but clean! The coloring comes from the dye in the plants.

My day usually starts around 7am and ends at around 11pm. Though very busy with work here we still manage to have some fun! The people are very friendly and oftentimes we are invited for lunch or dinner. This past weekend was especially fun as we crossed the village by boat on the black river for a traditional Guyanese cook up! Delicious!

Traditional Guyanese Cookup (rice & beans) with BBQ chicken and fresh cherry juice!

If you enjoyed this posting, please visit my personal blog!

-Angela Mak, Youth Ambassador, Guyana 2011

For more volunteer blogs, check out our Travel Diary category!


6 thoughts on “Life in St.Cuthbert’s Mission, Guyana

  1. Hey Ang, your experience reminds me of a summer I spent in China 30+ years ago except that you still have a toilet to use whereas we were “dumping” in the bushes and covered with mud when done (!!). Anyways, what you are doing is more meaningful and pls keep it up!

  2. @AngelaFoo Guyana really struggles with sanitation and literacy. Though I have an inside bathroom, many do not and there is no sewage system here. Much of the waste flows into the water, which in turn is used for drinking.

    The roads are made of sand and so everything is coated with a thin layer of dirt, not to mention the amount of bugs that breed in the sand and are tracked into the houses.

    There is no system for waste disposal and garbage is thrown on the ground.

    Today was a drainage day where people in the village are beginning to create a system for clean bathroom waste and drinking water! One step at a time!! Thanks for your support 🙂

    @Paul So happy you enjoyed my post! I will be posting again soon regarding literacy in St. Cuthbert’s. If you enjoyed my post, please check out my personal blog at!

  3. Hi angela, I spent a year in st cuthberts a few years ago now, I’m just wondering if you have any more pictures of the mission? I read that its recently got a police station and would love to see or hear any more news…

  4. Pingback: YCI’s Volunteer of the Year « Youth Challenge International

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