Big Challenges for “Little Guyana” in New York City – by Francis Quamina Farrier

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The Richman Hill area of Queens, New York City, is populated with tens of thousands of Guyanese immigrants of Indian heritage, and is known as “Little Guyana.”

It grew out of Guyanese of Indian heritage who migrated and settled in that area of Queens, New York over the past half century. Residents include Doctors, Lawyers, Business People and other professionals. As one travels along the popular Liberty Avenue, one observes many billboards with the word “GUYANA” on them. 
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Quite a number of signs also state “GUYANA GOLD.” There are many Guyanese-owned Business establishments owned and operated by Guyanese of Indian heritage. Many of such establishments include the word “Guyana” in their identification. The “Golden Arrowhead” is also seen often along Liberty Avenue.
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My first visit to New York was in 1969. Since then, I have visited that city over thirty times. In the early years, there was not what is now known as “Little Guyana.” However, as that enclave in Richmond Hill, Queens grew and developed and prospered, some of my own friends were part of the population – Poet and Playwright, Rajkumarie Singh, Playwright and Novelist, Sheik Sadeek, Broadcaster, Ishri Singh, Dancer Gora Singh and his sister Pritha Singh who is a Cultural organizer, all lived in Richmond Hill, Queens. There are others who are friends and associates of mine from Guyana whom I visited.
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After I became involved with local Television News Broadcasting, I interviewed many residents of “Little Guyana” on camera. Such endeavors became part of my professional activities. Video footage gathered in that community were also edited for television back home in Guyana. There were the times when I got caught up in the activities of the people of “Little Guyana” such as recording and playing Pagwah at the large Smokey Park. I have also gone to “Little Guyana” to cover Guyanese presidential and ministerial visits for airing on the VCT Evening News in Georgetown. Two such reports were visits by President Samuel Hinds and President Bharrat Jagdeo.
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One of the saddest reports which I made out of “Little Guyana” was the funeral of 23 year old Gaitri Hardat who was shot dead on Atlantic Avenue in Queens by her then 31 year-old ex-boyfriend, who is also Guyanese. He was convicted and sentenced to 20 years in prison for her gruesome murder which took place in broad daylight on a sidewalk on Atlantic Avenue. At the time of the deadly shooting, the victim was in conversation on her cell phone with her father. He heard the gun shots and his daughter’s last gasp as she fell to the pavement. The following day, I was at the spot where the murder took place when the victim’s father and other relatives turned up and placed flowers where she fell.
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In this my most recent report out of “Little Guyana” in New York, I am stating what the residents are doing as they face the rigors and constraints of the COVID-19 pandemic. “I was shocked with the escalation of our Covid-19” stated Community Organizer Vishnu Mahadeo, who migrated to the USA in 1981. During his forty years residing in Queens, New York, Vishnu Mahadeo has established the Richmond Hill Economic Development Council, a not-for-profit organization to improve the business along Liberty Avenue, and also to improve the image of Richmond Hill. Vishnu Mahadeo also established a Senior Citizen Service in 2015. With the escalation of the coronavirus in the Richmond Hill “Little Guyana” area of New York, life has become much of a challenge. Similar as in Guyana, many of the residents of “Little Guyana” are not obeying the protocols of COVID-19 – especially in terms of Social Distancing. There are reports of many crowded spaces especially in Bars and Restaurants. Sadly, this behavior is not exclusive to the “Little Guyana” area of the City of New York, but also in Guyana itself.
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As January 2021 comes to an end, there are over 427,000 Americans who have died of the COVID-19. There are now 157,000 affected and 5,600 dead of the COVID-19 in Queens, New York City in which “Little Guyana” is located. At this time, there is no reduction in the number of those infected of the Virus in “Little Guyana.” It would be recalled that the first two Coronavirus deaths in Guyana were persons who had just returned to their homeland from “Little Guyana” in New York. Recent reports are that the Pfizer vaccine will soon be made available for residents of New York, including “Little Guyana.”
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In more recent years, residents of “Little Guyana” have been extending their civic activities to the wider New York city and beyond. Following the murder of the African-American, George Floy by a white police officer who placed his knee on the neck of the victim until he died, members of the “Little Guyana” Community mounted public demonstrations, in support of the “BLACK LIVES MATTER” movement. With astute and patriotic leaders in “Little Guyana” such as Vishnu Mahadeo, relationships between the residents of “Little Guyana” and Guyanese-Americans of other locations, seem to be heading in the right direction.

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A seen from Liberty Avenue in “Little Guyana” Queens, New York. (Photo by Francis Q. Farrier)

Pictured from left to right, Pesach Osina, Rose Kaur, Vishnu Mahadeo, Jenifer Rajkumar and Eric Adams.

Dancer and Choreographer Pritha Singh is the Director of the Rajkumarie Center in
Richmond Hill, Queens, New York City. (Photo by Francis Q. Farrier)

Kishore Seunarine who resides in Queens just outside “Little Guyana” is involved in many cultural activities and is an Honoree of the Guyana Cultural Association of New York (GCA). (Photo by Francis Q. Farrier)

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Comments

  • Abdool Azeem  On 01/31/2021 at 12:14 am

    On Sat, Jan 30, 2021 at 10:04 PM Guyanese Online wrote:

    > guyaneseonline posted: ” The Richman Hill area of Queens, New York City, > is populated with tens of thousands of Guyanese immigrants of Indian > heritage, and is known as “Little Guyana.” It grew out of Guyanese of > Indian heritage who migrated and settled in that area ” >

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