Tag Archives: Guyana

Engaging the Guyanese Diaspora

“Once you are a Guyanese, you are always a Guyanese,” (Minister of Foreign Affairs of Guyana, Hon Carolyn Rodrigues-Birkett)

The history of increased migration from Guyana to Europe, North America and the Caribbean started in the early 1980’s due to the unstable economic conditions which prevailed during that period. Over the years, the migrant Guyanese population has increased, and so has the desire to maintain a sense of identity, a connection to their place of origin and to contribute to the development of their home country. (Source: IOM Development Fund Project)

Do not miss this opportunity! Complete the survey now! Here is the linkLet’s Build Guyana Together!

On September 26th 2012, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the International Organisation for Migration (IOM) launched the Guyana Diaspora Initiative in New York. This Initiative resulted from the recognition of the Government of Guyana that there is a need for a structured mechanism for assessing, profiling and engaging the Guyanese diaspora. The more I searched for information on this project, the more I grew excited. Here was a real chance for a country that is known for its rich resources and brilliant population to engage the skills and knowledge of its citizenry absentia for its development.

Do not miss this opportunity! Complete the survey now! Here is the linkLet’s Build Guyana Together!

Part of the project is an online platform whereby Guyanese all over the world can log in, register and complete a survey aimed at ascertaining skill sets. The focus seems to be on mapping of skills and not conducting a census of numbers. To be eligible to take part one must either be Guyanese or of Guyanese parentage and living abroad.

This survey is intended to inform the hosting of a Diaspora Conference and eventually the Government of Guyana’s strategy of engagement of its diaspora population.

Do not miss this opportunity! Complete the survey now! Here is the link: Let’s Build Guyana Together!

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Engaging the Jamaican Diaspora

So many exciting initiatives are taking place in the Caribbean and I have had a virtual information feast finding out about it all from coast to coast! I am excited to share information on a Conference that will be taking place in Jamaica  around better engaging the Diaspora population to contribute to the development of the country.
This proud Jamaican displays his merchandise. Taken at Cross Roads, Kingston
This proud Jamaican displays his merchandise. Taken at Cross Roads, Kingston

The MacMillan dictionary defines Diaspora (/daɪˈæsp(ə)rə/) as, the movement of a large group of people from their home country to other countries in the world

Statistics seem to show for instance that the numbers of Jamaicans and Guyanese living in the diaspora is probably equal to, if not more than the population living within the country. In fact the IOM (International Organisation on Migration) is currently (Guyana) or will be supporting (Jamaica) these two countries’ efforts to map the skills and investment interests within their diaspora populations. (For more on these two initiatives, please visit these two links: Jamaica to establish database of overseas professionals & Guyana Diaspora Project).

Well here is information for an upcoming fora where the Jamaican diaspora can get involved:

Looking on in Half Way tree Jamaica
Looking on in Half Way tree Jamaica

Jamaica Diaspora Conference 2013 (June 2013)

The Biennial Jamaica – Diaspora Conference, convened by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Foreign Trade, is the global forum that connects Jamaicans from all over the world with Jamaicans in the home country every two years. The event seeks to strengthen existing linkages and networks, and to build alliances for Jamaica’s development and standing in the world (Extract from website).

Why, you may wonder, all this attention to the diaspora population? Well it is estimated that remittances make up some 17% of GDP and diaspora tourists may constitute some 11-15% of overall visitors. Further Professor Neville Ying, Executive Director of the Jamaica Diaspora Institute (JDI), estimates that there are possibly more than 187 Diaspora organisations that make significant contributions to Jamaica in the areas of health, education, sports, investment etc.

It is precisely because of the recognition of this value and potential that the Jamaica Diaspora Foundation and its operating arm – Jamaica Diaspora Institute was established in 2009. Visit Maximising the value of the diaspora to Jamaica’s sustainable development for more.

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Exploring Guyana – The Land of Many Waters

Where in the world can you find a river 630 miles (1010 km) long with an estuary 20 miles wide and containing approx 365 islands? Guyana – The Land of Many Waters in South America! The description refers to the majestic Essequibo river. Guyana is the perfect destination for eco-tourism. It is a wonderful mixture of people, places and food. I have many memories of this beautiful land. As children in Guyana you were taught from very early the true meaning of patriotism. There were very few national songs that were not sung in the schools each week – and there were several of these songs! To underscore the richness of this unspoilt land, Venezuela continues to try to lay claim to a significant part of Guyana. Here are a few old but very beautiful videos giving a peek into this lovely land. Enjoy!

(None of the videos belong to me, all credit given to the original creators).

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(1 of 9 Part video exploration of Guyana)

(Song of Guyana’s Children by W. Bryant)

(Song – “Not a Blade of Grass” – response to Venezuela’s ongoing claims to Guyana’s lands)

(National Anthem of Guyana)

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A Culinary peek into Guyana: “The Making of the Pinetart”!

Image courtesy http://www.infoplease.com

Guyana, officially the Co-operative Republic of  Guyana, is a sovereign state on the northern coast of South America. Culturally, it is considered part of the Anglophone Caribbean. Guyana was a former colony of the Dutch and for about 200 years – the British. Remnants of its Dutch history are present in many ways in modern-day Guyana, perhaps most distinctively in the names of its streets and towns. It is the only country in South America where the official language is English. The country is bordered by Suriname to the East, Brazil to the South & Southwest and Venezuela to the West. The population of this diverse and beautiful country is about 770,000 – just under one million. In contrast, the landmass is approximately 214,970 sq km! Known as “The Land of Many Waters”, this tropical country boasts of majestic waterfalls – most popular being the Kaieteur Falls, vast expanses of rivers, Amazon-type rainforest and about seven tribes of Amerindians. Other languages spoken on this mainland include Cariban, Guyanese Creole, Spanish & Portuguese. Welcome to the beautiful Guyana!

Today I am sharing a recipe for one of Guyana’s sweet delicacies – the pinetart or pineapple tart. What sets this pastry apart is the crust. It is usually a deliciously thick, crunchy and flavourful crust. I’m still trying to get it right! Nevertheless, here it is in pictures. Enjoy this culinary peek into a majestic land!

You can either choose to prepare the pastry filling from scratch or substitute with store-bought jam. Depending on the option you choose, the steps will be slightly different. I chose the faster route – store-bought jam 🙂

You will need: 1lb (16oz) flour, 1/2 lb (8oz) shortening, 1 large egg, 1 bottle pineapple jam (or 2 cans crushed pineapple & sugar)
STEP 1: Prepare the Pastry: Mix flour and shortening together until the mixture is crumbly like bread crumbs.

STEP 2: Slowly add iced water and gently knead until you have a soft dough. Separate into small balls, spread flat and place a small amount of pineapple filling in the centre of each circle.

STEP 3: Fold dough over filling to form triangles. Prick the edges shut with a fork. Brush the tops of the pastry with egg. Place into 350F oven and bake for approx 20-25 mins/ until done

VOILA! You’re done. Enjoy warm out of the oven or when cool.

Stay tuned for more on Guyana – especially of course socio-economics – in the coming weeks! If you enjoyed this post, please take a moment to click to follow ISLAND VIGNETTES, leave a comment or hit LIKE!




And then granny made me some pumpkin soup…

As a child growing up in Guyana, I was lucky to have four generations of family close by. Granny’s yard was always noisy with us running around, the cherry tree was always bare because we usually “raided it” (picked it clean) the moment the cherries were red enough and our clothes were forever stained with the juice of starapples (caimite) from the tree in the backyard. The best memories however were somehow associated with pumpkin soup.

Pumpkin soup was a Saturday “thing”. My favourite part was the floating dumplings in the steaming bowl. If any of us children fell ill, we got pumpkin soup. The best part was the extra love and attention that came on the side. In the Caribbean it was customary for a child to have multiple aunties, uncles, grannies and grandpas, none of whom were related by blood. Well I had my fair share and my adopted “granny” also cooked pumpkin soup on a Saturday. It was mandatory that I visited and ate every drop. I think the two grannies probably had some weekend soup schedule. The mantra was that pumpkin is good for my eyes so no complaining or arguements would be tolerated. The highlight was the coins I would get as spending money for the rest of the week. That was important – after all chicken foot and mango with salt & pepper was not free! Those schoolyard snacks were a necessity.

During a nostalgic moment, I attempted to recapture my pumpkin soup memories. Here is my unsophisticated recipe: boiling water, 1/2 pack Maggi pumpkin flavoured soup, generous amount of sweet potato & irish potato, 1 cup diced pumpkin, 2 chopped carrots, handful of macaroni shells, generous handful of chives (green onions), 1 teaspoon of chopped garlic, a bit of rosemary, 1 spoon of chopped red or green pimento peppers, a pinch of salt & pepper to taste, a dash of Angostura bitters, beef (optional), dumplings (mandatory), bubble on medium fire, stir from time to time, knock the pot with the spoon once or twice to sound like you know what you’re doing and hum a happy song. I am sure it will add to the overall taste. Voila! Enjoy!