“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)
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.
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.
in-ner cit-y: The area near the centre of the city, esp, when associated with social and economic problems (google)
On Saturday I took the bus down to East Kingston, to a small inner-city community called Burgher Gully to attend the Youth Leaders Concert. I was accompanying a friend – Kate – to the concert which was organised by the NGO – Youth Opportunities Unlimited (Y.O.U.).
After a typically late start, the concert finally got underway. It was refreshing to witness the enthusiasm and talent of children ranging from age 2 to 18. They drummed, sang and acted in two dramas designed to highlight racism and prostitution. The main event of the evening however was the dancing. It was clear that these youth put a lot of hard work in practicing their routines and the outcome was nothing short of captivating. On a point of reflection, I do notice that the Jamaican has a different rhythm and movement of body in response to the beat of music, especially when compared perhaps to persons from the Eastern Caribbean. I was bit disturbed however when a five-year old girl won a dancing competition with some gyrations fit only for a married adult locked in a bedroom. Simply my perspective of course. I must say great job to the MC for the evening who did all in her power to ensure the youth enjoyed an educational, fun and clean night out. The atmosphere was happy, the night sky clear, the breeze cool and gentle with the sound of music & laughter everywhere.
What I found out about the venue was as interesting as the event itself. The space is also the Eastern Peace Centre of the Dispute Resolution Foundation (DRF). With the support of UNICEF, the Burgher Gully Project was established and assisted 45 youth who were out of school by providing structured activities for them over a three-month period, thus keeping them occupied and off of the streets. Sadly the problems these inner city youth face have not gone away altogether, but it is helpful to see organisations like Y.O.U., D.R.F. and UNICEF continue to reach out. Moreover, it is gratifying to know that my organisation, Cuso International, supports the work of Y.O.U. & D.R.F. through capacity building and knowledge sharing. Thank you to the children of Burgher Gully for a fantastic Saturday evening.