Giving Back To Help Others

Giving Back to Help Others is the Cornerstone for this creative company


Women have now created their own source of revenue to save their village.
Women have now created their own source of revenue to save their village.

Having businesses that are taking on a whole new dimension with ever changing technology, continues to make the world one big village, the traditional way of life has also been seeing significant shifts.  No longer is it just being creative in your business approach and forging your way.  Many roles in the workforce are changing for the better and some may even surprise you as it did us .

Finding and Alternative Source for Earning:

No longer is the man considered the only breadwinner. Women have been increasingly figuring in the job world. Boardrooms are filled with women who go head to head with the men. The development has also seen a new awareness of the word “gender” with the focus being on equal rights for all.
In Guyana, the change is very visible. More women are riding motorcycles. More children are being placed in day care facilities. Women are even seen driving taxis, an unusual sight at one time.
Along the Soesdyke/Linden highway, east of the Cheddi Jagan international airport, lies a small village called Yarrowkabra, of some 2,000 residents.  It tells the tale of how a few residents, mainly women and single parents, have been pulling out the stops to put bread on the table and send their children to school. And it is all thanks to one company involved in the wood business.
Since 2001, Superior Shingles and Wood Products Inc., who produces Turada® Hardwood Shingles, distributed by Tropical Timberwoods, Inc. in the United States has been doing something that seems baffling. They have been giving away thousands of dollars daily in wallaba blocks, the waste developed in the production of the Shingles to a few villagers of Yarrowkabra. Not only has it helped a village from falling by the wayside, but the employment of the mainly womenfolk has been a source of inspiration for many.

The community is involved in coal burning from the wallaba blocks. Several pits, dug in the earth and covered with sand and even having their own chimneys, scatter the outside of the factory. It is a weird, waste-land looking site that aptly described what Government has been calling a cottage industry.

Some of the Yarrowkabra women involved in the coal-burning.

The 31-member Yarrowkabra Coal Burners Association has been averaging over $7,000-$10,000 monthly in sales of the coal that they burn. It is being sold to local suppliers and even exported. Persons have been travelling from far and wide to the community to purchase the product.

There was a hive of activity last Friday at the worksite. And it seemed as if the ladies were directing the show. While a number of men were using chainsaws to cut the blocks of wood into smaller pieces, one woman was seen pushing a wheelbarrow filled to capacity to an open pit. The men had been hired by the ‘Queen Bees’. The women were covered in dust and some had defined muscularity from the nature of their work. There were the few jokes that seem ripped from the gold bush.  The conditions were tough with the women picking the wood ends from the heap that have been transferred there from the factory.

Althea Peters, is a 28-year-old single parent of one. She has to provide for her eight-year-old son who has to travel the five miles or so to Kuru Kuru where he attends school.
The Vice President of the Association, Peters was more than protective of the opportunity offered.

One of the coal-burning pits.coal mound

Yarrowkabra, she says, is starved for jobs, with most of the men heading to the gold bush or elsewhere for employment. It was a blessing when Superior Shingles entered the picture. Now almost 200 persons from Yarrowkabra directly benefit from coal burning. Some of the families have up to 10 persons…a lot of mouths to feed, Peters pointed out.

It is not a free-for-all at the worksite. The association has rules and is even paying the Guyana Forestry Commission a fee. The members, entitled to three pits each, would pool their coals when a large order comes in.
It takes more than a week of the covered wood to burn to coal. It would take more than double that time to cool. Each pit can produce between 50 to 120 bags of coal depending on the amount of wood blocks being used.
Peters says she sometimes takes in about $500. monthly after expenses with one bag retailing for around $5. The women have been hiring men with chainsaws to work for them too.

Heading to an open pit

Marcita Andrews, 33, has four kids, with her oldest being 15. She needs the money to send them to school as far as Soesdyke, a community about seven miles away. The pits are minutes away from her job which she has been involved in for six years. Andrews is all too aware of the hardship of Yarrowkabra, which depends heavily on the coal burning to survive. The gold bush, as indicated earlier, has been a major lure to its residents. “I got to buy stuff…living in Yarrowkabra is a hard life if you don’t have a job.” The children and even the husbands and partners would chip in to help Andrews’s story is similar to Petal Schultz, 30, a mother of four, who believes that the association has become a mainstay of the area. The women, tough as nails, have become protective of each other and not immune to a beer or two after the sun goes down.


According to Superior Shingles, there have been offers from persons to buy the wood blocks, but the company has stuck with the villagers. “Of course we can sell the blocks and make some money to buy fuel for our generators, but we prefer things the way they are.”
The villagers have been fiercely protective of Superior Shingles & Wood Products the shingle-making company which has been doing brisk overseas business. It has worked out well so far for both parties – the company and the coal burners.


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