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.