About

RICOH

Jane Joseph graduated in history at the London School of Economics in 1976 under the tutelage of Dr David Starkey and Dr John Gillingham. She furthered her studies in medieval economic history, researching for a PhD also at the LSE under Dr Antony Bridbury 1976-9. She then qualified as a teacher and taught history, geography and humanities in secondary schools in the United Kingdom and Dubai until 1991 when she migrated with her Guyanese husband Edwin to Guyana, South America. Together, they set up their own home and eco-tourism ranch in Hopetown West Coast Berbice, her husband’s birth village. The tourism ranch failed as a business but evolved into a private charity school to enable the economic empowerment of children of poor villagers. They named it Sapodilla Learning Centre. Wherever Jane has taught, her dedication and passion for local and social history and the natural environment has driven her work and motivated her to set up school and local museums and to use art, music and drama to keep children in touch with the history of their ancestors.

Jane and Edwin’s life in Guyana began in an era of political change and turmoil when the country was emerging from a dark period of political oppression following the death of its dictator President Forbes Burnham. Although they were widely traveled in Europe, Africa, the Middle and Far East, the couple were not prepared for the culture shock of living permanently in such an undeveloped economy as they found in Guyana.The years of planning and preparation they had both made proved inadequate due to factors they could never have foreseen. Finding a way of surviving in the rural economy of their village and trying to help it to develop in a positive way became their life’s work for eighteen years.

Edwin’s medical condition forced them to return to England in 2009 and sadly, to close down the charity school. They sold the house and land to the Guyana Congregational Union and gave all the assets of the school to that church in the hope that they would continue with the school, its sports club and its local museum. At the time of writing, there has been no indication that any comparable form of school, sports club or museum is currently operating from the site.

Since leaving Guyana, Jane has written and published historical magazine articles and books. Her publications include “The Eldorado Affair: A True Story of pioneers in Rural Guyana, South America” and “Fit for a Queen: The Recipe Book of Ada Parsons, Head Cook to the XIV Earl of Strathmore.” She is currently working on her first historical novel set in early colonial Guyana.

For Details of Books Published and reviews, type “Books Published” into the searchbar at the top of this page you will also find other articles by typing “The Sapodilla Project” and “In Search of El Dorado” into the search bar at the top of any page.

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14 thoughts on “About

  1. I have just finished reading “The Eldorado Affair”. I found it a compelling book, which at times had me feeling so frustrated on behalf of Jane and Edwin. How the “powers that be” could make difficulties in each way they turned, when Jane and Edwin’s only purpose was to make a better life possible for the natives of Guyana. They say truth is stranger than fiction, I certainly would not have believed the problems they encountered and how they survived it all. I sincerely hope some of the children they helped on the way remember Edwin and Jane and the lessons they learnt from them, to become useful members of society and help their country of origin.

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  2. My name is Trevor. I am one of the persons who recieved the teachings of both Mr and Mrs Joseph.
    Although I have not read the book, I can tell you that the author is a remarkable woman of exemplary qualities.
    I have never gotten the chance to say how grateful I am for every moment Mrs Joseph would have spent teaching me and giving me a chance to become a positive contribution to our rural society.
    After completeing studies with them (free of cost), I went on to university. I worked for a major company for five years, after which I pursued my dream of owning my own business. I picked up my art skills (discovered by Aunty Jane), and put my shoulder to the wheel to create a sign making business.
    Today I am happy to say that I am able to create jobs for 4 persons and my business has state of the art machinery comparable to that of first world .

    Thank you Mr and Mrs Joseph for your selfless acts of love which you bestowed upon me and to shape the man I have become today. I will try everyday to share some of the knowledge that you would have shared with me to help continue the circle of love which you evidently started. Again thank you. S.Harripersaud.

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    • Trevor, How lovely to hear from you again and to see this very kind feedback which you have taken the time to post on my blog site. I think it will go some way to answering the question raised by one of my readers who has made a comment after reading my book. You, Trevor, were one of the ones who witnessed the difficulties we faced at the beginning of our existence and the obstructions we faced from some officials and locals although of course your parents were always very supportive which is why they sent you to us. I hope you have seen pictures of yourself on my Sapodilla Learning Centre 1993-2009 page on facebook and you can also “like” my Jane Joseph author page on facebook which you can easily locate if you visit the Sapodilla page I refer to here. I will be posting pictures on that which relate to my writing and published books, so if you “like” both pages, you can get regular updates and stay in touch. One last thing, Both Edwin and I are delighted to hear that you have done so well since we last saw you and are using all the skills you developed with us not only to help yourself and your family but also to help others to gain employment…..Are you doing this in Guyana or are you now living elsewhere?

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      • Dear AUNTY JANE
        I am delighted to know that I can finally get in touch with you. I often pass by Sapodilla to show my wife, Narda, and our 9 year old son Josh, the place which made a difference in our lives. I often think of what ever happened to you.
        I am proud to say that although my entire family now resides in Canada , I am still here. I live and work right at no.4 village. My family begs me daily to join them but I love Guyana too much. I love our flora and fauna profoundly (I can still remember the exact day I learnt those words from you.)
        I still treasure the memories of having the opportunity of experienceing so much as a student of yours. I share the stories with my wife and son all the time.
        Only yesterday morning I was telling them about the time we won the essay writing competition and we were to represent our country at the world youth summit in Rome. We held our itinerary whilst our government held everything else.
        I never knew that Sapodilla was online or I would have linked ages ago. My area is still without phone lines- can you believe it? To have access to internet I had to put up a wireless system which gives me access to 512 megs!.
        Is that pic at the top of this page recent? Did you find the fountain of youth?
        I am going to do the necessary so that we can keep in touch. I do hope that some day we can meet again. Trevor

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  3. Trevor, Once again a lovely comment for you to leave here for others to read. Yes that essay competition was a sad example of some of the unfair practices that went on in those early days. I’m sorry to hear that you still have no phone lines at no.4 village but your business must be doing well if you could get your own wireless system. I have found the secret of eternal youth…Its the internet which allows me to speak from the face that you would remember but I haven’t changed much. I look forward to future communications via facebook.

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  4. How wonderful to see someone valued by others in the way that Jane obviously is – she is clearly a lady held in the highest regard by those who have been fortunate enough to have her touch theiir lives. I am almost finished reading Jane’s book ‘The El Dorado Affair’ and I must say it really is a compelling story of trial and adversity against the odds.
    It makes you realise just how unfair life can be to the underserving.

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    • Thank you for your kind comment David. I hope you enjoyed reading my book and do so right to the end. I also hope you managed to find all the photographs of the Sapodilla Project on this site in the article “The Sapodilla Project”. Just type that phrase into the search bar at the top of this page and search. It should come up as a green bar and when you click on the green bar, the article should come up. There are also other articles you might find interesting to read and if you sign up to “Follow” this word-press site, you will be sent an email every time I post a new article. There are some interesting ones coming up in the next few weeks.

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  5. I just finished reading The El Dorado Affair. It is a most inspiring book. It is hard to believe that you would sacrifice most of your lives doing such a marvelous job at no cost. You have had immense hurdles that I think most would have given up long ago. What is wonderful to see is that you and Edwin did make a difference, a difference that will touch lives forever..I wish you the best in your retirement.
    Don Malman

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    • Thanks very much for taking the time to post this review, Don. I can assure you that everything in the book is true and thanks for your kind words. May I ask if you read it in paperback or in Kindle format?

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  6. Hi Mrs. Joseph, I do not know if you are able to help me. I have been faced with much difficulty trying to trace my family tree. I am led to believe that the Josephs of Hopetown, Berbice were related to the family Wills? My Great Grandfather was a Dr. S. Wills. My late Grandmother was the first cousin of Fred Wills. However, I can find no further information further than 1868. Please can you advise if you came across a relationship link between the Josephs and Wills during your journey? I have been doing this for years and would like to pinpoint our ancestors so I can share my findings with other members of our family who are as bewildered as I am.

    Kindest regards, Chaz

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    • Hi Chaz, How lovely to hear from you and to read of your connection to Hopetown. Are you saying that your Great Grandfather Dr S Wills resided in Hopetown in 1868? Do you know where he was born or any other details of where he might have lived in British Guiana. If you can give me a bit more information I will see if I can find out anything more for you.

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  7. The power of the Web. ..! I served with Joe, and we played sport together(I appeared in the mid 70`s). Best to you both. T

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