Sod turned for Humanitarian Mission Village on the Corentyne

March 26, 2012 | By KNews | Filed Under News
Kaieteur News

– will be safe haven for seniors, orphans, and victims of gender-based violence

By Leon Suseran

Prime Minister Samuel Hinds and other high- level dignitaries turned the sod for the construction of a Humanitarian Mission Village, the first of its kind in Guyana, for Port Mourant, Berbice.
The project is being carried out by the New Jersey Arya Samaj/Guyana Central Arya Samaj Humanitarian Mission and when completed, will be a safe haven for seniors, persons afflicted as a result of gender- based violence and orphans. The complex will be established at Lots 21-26 Area 2 Ankerville, Port Mourant, Corentyne.
Guyana is being plagued by critical social and family problems. These include suicide, domestic violence, child abuse, children abandoned by parents and exploitation of individuals because of a lack of individual empowerment.
In giving an overview of the project, Pandit Kamal Dhanessar said that the village will house an empowerment centre which will offer skills training in areas such as Information Technology, garment construction, food catering, basic vehicle repairs and electrical installation. The residents will live for a period of time in the village “and when they leave this village, we hope they will be coming out with the necessary skills that they can move into the mainstream society, in the community.”
A guest house will also be erected for overseas- based members of the Mission and on the lower flat there will be off- duty nurses, “because…we also visualise we will need nurses to take care of the old folks and of the children who will be living in the village”. The ambitious project will also see the construction of a multi- cultural shed and “a part of it will be enclosed as multiple prayer rooms where the residents will be allowed to practice their religion”.
The organisation noted that although government has piloted the requisite laws relating to child abuse, domestic violence and other social problems facing Guyanese, the social ills continue unabated. The Humanitarian Village will provide accommodation for street children, abused persons, aged persons without families, as well as provide skills training meant to train and empower not only the residents of the Mission Village, but also single parents, teenage mothers and school drop-outs.
There will also be a tech- voc education programme for accreditation with the Ministry of Education for empowerment.
President of Red Thread, Karen de Souza lauded the effort of the Arya Samaj Mission “because there will never be enough of us who are addressing the needs of the vulnerable and needy”. She noted that while it is good to “put up buildings” the issues should be addressed, such as “skills and how do we move the vulnerable kids and abused women to situations to independence and taking care of themselves”.
“We have to commit ourselves and be bold to speak out when we see our friends and relatives being violent”.
Minister of Human Services and Social Security, Dr. Jennifer Webster, in her address, gave the government’s commitment to the project, “because if we don’t arrest this problem and ensure our victims have access to justice, then our society will go further downhill”. She added that the judicial system is committed “now to working with us…and once we have legislation in place, there is need for us to look at issues affecting the implementation and to try to have these issues resolved”. She pledged to amend laws if possible, “because we cannot allow the perpetrators to get away and to flee…and many of our victims have been left traumatised and they have to endure counseling and….cannot face up to what has happened to them”. “Many of the victims are women and as a woman, I feel that we have to help each other…join forces…no matter what…help those woman, children to build their self- esteem and a project such as this is a commendable project because the mission will provide a number of facilities and skills”.
President of the New Jersey Arya Samaj Humanitarian Mission, Pandit Suresh Sugrim chronicled the breakdown of the nation’s societal fabric and blamed it on entertainment shows that are laced with selling of alcohol especially to minors and children.
One such show was held in Canje last weekend, “and it was the most disgusting thing I have ever seen in my life”. “What I saw last Saturday…was a total shame and disgrace to our country that we allow international artistes to come into our country and take our people away”. He urged the religious leaders present at the ground- breaking ceremony to unite and tell the government “that enough is enough and whenever these artistes come into our country, and they’re gone, how are we going to fix the damage? Our people, children and family, mothers and fathers, sons and daughters were all getting drunk; where are our morals and values, the mandirs, churches and mosques?” he questioned.
U.S. Charge de Affairs Thomas Pierce, in adding his bit, stated that the people-to-people activities, that do not involve government, “are all important facets of our bilateral relationship”. He lauded the Mission Village since it will be a place that will approach the problems in a comprehensive way in that skills training will also be provided for the residents, “and will also support other victims of domestic violence”. He pledged the U.S.’s support to the issues that the Mission Village will be tackling.
Consul General to Canada, Mrs. Sattie Sawh was proud of the type of work that is taking place and offered her encouragement to the project. “This village is addressing a need that exists far beyond the boundaries of any one religion, racial, political or social group….and addressing any and all disadvantaged people does not have a single discriminatory aim and I am very proud of this”.
High Commissioner of Canada, His Excellency David Devine noted that there is a need for such a project and urged that recognition be given to projects such as these. He urged the government and private sector to work together to support such ventures.
“The vision of this project is that of empowerment and that is a critical message, and it is open to all religions.”
It is important, he said, to focus on the root of the problem and pledged his government’s support to such programmes.
Prime Minister Samuel Hinds congratulated Pandit Sugrim and the NJASHM. Hinds, in addressing the gathering, stated that he has taken note on the comments of Pandit Sugrim of the kind of entertainers that have been coming to Guyana “and they do pose a problem….and I took note of the call that we should celebrate good role models”. He pledged that the government would do what it can but insisted that citizens should play their part as well.
“Let’s get the building going and I hope we develop enough momentum that the other challenges will be met”. He challenged others in Guyana to do similar projects “to meet the evident needs….so that we could establish a network of bonds through caring, sharing for each other”.
Construction of the complex will begin within a month.

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