September 20, 2014

Youth Group brightens road signs in Enmore

The EYDG members are all smiles after completing their latest project

The EYDG members are all smiles after completing their latest project

Members of the Enmore Youth Development Group (EYDG) recently spruced up six road signs in the East Coast Demerara village of Enmore, as part of their community development initiative.

The youngsters repainted a few Stop signs, as well as some pedestrian crossings in the area.

The members repainting a Stop Sign at the head of the Enmore main road

The members repainting a Stop Sign at the head of the Enmore main road

The members said they are grateful to those who assisted them in making the exercise a reality and success. The EYDG has been doing its part to make the community a better place, and among its upcoming activities is participation in the annual Diwali motorcade next month. The group recently held a fundraiser at the Enmore Hope Primary School ground to garner funds to help bring that project to fruition.

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Trio before court on assault, damage to property charges

A trio who were allegedly involved in an altercation that saw blows flying and clothing being damaged were on Friday released on bail.

Natasha Smith, 37, of 129 Buxton, East Coast Demerara; Beverly Barrow, 45, of Lot 2001 Parfaite Harmonie, West Bank Demerara and Jerome Gitts, 45, of Lot 129 D’Urban Backlands, Greater Georgetown, appeared at the Georgetown Magistrates’ Courts before Magistrate Fabayo Azore to answer to the charges.

The incident occurred on September 7 at D’Urban Backlands. It was alleged that Barrow unlawfully damaged one jersey valued $12,000 which belonged to Gitts. It was further alleged that she also unlawfully assaulted Gitts. Barrow pleaded not guilty to both charges read to her.

Gitts was charged for allegedly unlawfully assaulting Barrow to which he pleaded not guilty, while the allegation against Smith was that she unlawfully and maliciously damaged a jersey valued $5000, which belonged to Barrow, and unlawfully assaulted the said individual. She denied the charges read to her.

No facts were presented in court on this matter. While Smith and Gitts were unrepresented, Barrow was represented by Attorney Paul Fung-A-Fat, who requested reasonable bail for his client.

The trio were granted $5000 bail on each charge after Police Prosecutor Sean Blackman had no objections. They are to report to Court Six before Magistrate Dylon Bess for their next court appearance.

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Man accused of shooting nephew to be charged soon

The West Demerara logger who allegedly shot his nephew is expected to be charged and placed before the courts early next week.

Jang Bahadur Ramdhanny, a logger of Vive La Force, West Bank Demerara (WBD), is reported to have shot his nephew, 31-year-old Vickram Ramdhanny, a miner of Lot 96 Alliance Canal Number Two Polder, WBD. The incident occurred on Monday last at the backdam in Canal Number Two.

The day following the incident, Bahadur turned himself in to Police at the Wales Police Station accompanied by his attorney. He was kept in custody assisting with investigations. Guyana Times was made to understand that a file was sent to the Director of Public Prosecutions, seeking advice on the matter. That file was returned to the investigating ranks on late Friday evening; as such, the Police were unable to take the man to court.

However, by that day, the constitutional 72-hour detention period had expired and the suspect was placed on station bail. He will be making his court appearance as early as Monday when he will likely be charged with attempt to commit murder.

Speaking to this newspaper, the mother of the injured man vented her frustration and anger at the fact that his uncle had been released. She also expressed fear of him returning to finish what he had set out to do initially.

“By the time the Police ready for him, he could done come and finish what he start,” she stated.

Family feud

Around 17:30h on Monday, Komal Ramdhanny, his son Vickram, and two other men were at the Canal Backdam, when his brother, Bahadur, confronted them.

“This guy come from nowhere straight to where we deh. He had a gun and point it to me, the guy say he come for me, so I run. Then I hear a gunshot and when I turn around, I see meh son drop on the ground, so I run to get my gun, but he get away,” the distraught father said.

According to Komal, the problem with his brother began about five years ago after his father died and left a house to him and his two brothers. He said that he gave his brothers their share of the property but Bahadur claimed that he had robbed them.

From thereon, there has been an ongoing dispute between the two brothers. Komal disclosed that his brother had threatened him on numerous occasions.

“He say he gone manners me and today (Tuesday) he come to kill me ‘cause this guy don’t go backdam, but sudden so he end up in the backdam,” the frustrated Komal stated.

The suspect is said to have recently acquired his firearm licence and frustrated family members of the injured man questioned the basis on which he was issued such a licence when he has a history of violence.

Meanwhile, the injured miner, who was shot once to his forehead, was recently discharged from the Georgetown Public Hospital and is said to be recovering. This publication understands that no operations were done to remove the pellets in Vickram’s head.

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Hundreds attend education rally

The Guyana Defence Force (GDF) also took part in the Education Rally, as Minister Manickchand called on everyone to be a part of the education process

The Guyana Defence Force (GDF) also took part in the Education Rally, as Minister Manickchand called on everyone to be a part of the education process

The National Park played host to hundreds of students from a variety of schools in and out of Georgetown, as well as trainee teachers, after they marched around the city in observance of Education Month, whose 2014 theme is   “Literate by Grade 4 through consistent home, school and community involvement”.

The Education Rally is a traditional march that is undertaken every year by the Education Ministry to observe Education Month in September. The march began at the Parade Ground on Middle Street. There, one could have seen an array of colours as there were students from Christ Church Secondary School, St Roses High, Lodge Secondary, Brickdam Secondary, and even the Cyril Potter College of Education, Turkeyen, Greater Georgetown.

The march proceeded along Camp Street into Lamaha Street then into Albert Street and culminated at the National Park. The students were quite happy to see Education Minister Priya Manickchand who marched with the Ministry of Education as well. She spoke to a few students, showing particular attention to the North Georgetown crew in their new uniforms. This, along with the majority in attendance being youths, added to quite an electrifying atmosphere for the rally.

At the Park, the students were greeted with music from the Lodge Secondary School Steel Pan, headed by Music Teacher Sindo Austin, which added to the aura of excitement that the youths expressed.

There were performances by the South Ruimveldt Secondary School who got the pavilion of students more excited with their enthusiastic physical display; and Teneccia DeFreitas, whose renditions had the students singing along, particularly to   “Mama, I don’t want to be born”. DeFreitas also encouraged the students to do well, reiterating that “education is the key to success”.

Teachers march along Lamaha Street in the Education Rally, in observance of Education Month

Teachers march along Lamaha Street in the Education Rally, in observance of Education Month

Minister Manickchand informed the attendees that the Ministry and the Government are committed to education for all Guyanese, “We promise with all our hearts that all our children will be literate…”

She stressed that this goal cannot be reached in isolation, as it requires the efforts of all “working together”, highlighting that, among other things, parents need to attend PTA Meetings and ensure children do their homework, while teachers need to “teach consciously” to get positive results. She called on Non-Governmental Organisations (NGOs) and other private bodies to do their part in this “drive to make our children literate by Grade 4”.

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Webster warns parents about online risks to children

Human Services Minister Jenifer Webster

Human Services Minister Jenifer Webster

Against the background of rampant child begging, exploitation, and sexual abuse, the Human Services Ministry unveiled its annual Child Protection Week programme Friday under the theme: “Partnering with Communities to Prevent Child Abuse”.

Human Services Minister Jenifer Webster, in a message to mark the occasion, said this year’s theme is not an adage coined for the week, but a principle “by which we should be bound in our daily lives”. The Minister noted that as a society, “we are obligated to prevent and eliminate child abuse, not only because it is violence, neglect and harm against defenceless humans, but because it is a destructive force of our future”,

Webster said it is unacceptable for society to countenance the destruction of self-esteem, psyche, limbs and bodies, opportunities and worth of the children of Guyana. “Let us treat them with love, respect and affection, and desist from harmful practices which do have a negative impact upon their lives,” she emphasised.

Webster said as a parent, “I implore you today to treat your children well, not just by meeting their physical needs, but by being affectionate, and willing to **parent** your child in a proper manner. I wish to encourage everyone to adopt the approach that child protection is a matter of great importance. We must be united and uphold the rights of our children. I wish to solicit the cooperation of everyone in society to lend a ‘helping hand’ to provide support for families in distress, as we seek to ‘work for a better Guyana’, where our children can live in dignity and not be subjected to emotional stress and trauma in their daily lives.”

She also urged that society commit itself to making children aware of online risks in this Internet age. “As a Government we will undertake efforts to enhance the investigation process of reports of child abuse cases and the prosecution of those offenders. The implementation of the TELL Campaign teaches our children to recognise abuse, especially sexual abuse and encourages them to report it to an adult. This campaign has had tremendous success, as we have used an animated cartoon, as a user-friendly approach for Guyana’s children to recognise and understand the importance of this issue and for the dissemination of this material, through awareness sessions in a number of schools in the hinterland. Our aim is to ensure every child has an opportunity to experience this type of awareness training.

“Many times, our children experience abuse from family members, so there is greater need for all of us to recognise the need for the prevention of child abuse in our society, to promote positive child development and strong family values. Failure to do this, has posed numerous challenges within our society and it is, therefore, imperative that **‘we act now’**. Our government has seen the importance of forging partnerships to address these social ills that plague our children.”

Webster said too that the Ministry has recognised that alone, the Government needs to collaborate with faith-based and Non-Governmental Organisations, civil society and the Private Sector on this issue. “However, let us acknowledge the tremendous role of the family, communities, civil society, Non-Governmental Organisations and International agencies in ensuring that our children are safe and kept free from harm. During Child Protection Week 2014, we will seek to increase our efforts to forge greater partnerships in communities where our children live, play and learn, to ensure that they do so in a safe environment. Let us work together to secure a brighter future for Guyana’s children. Let us empower them to know their rights. Let us all unite to take action to end child abuse in Guyana!”

Meanwhile, UNICEF said preventing violence is a first step in ending violence. This, the organisation said is everyone’s business, including, parent, guardian, child, neighbour, friend, relative, religious leader, Government, civil society and community. “We must recommit – especially during CP week to remind ourselves of this action and to ACT for every child. Violence, abuse and exploitation against children can never be justified – not by culture or social norms, tradition or religion. Silence is unacceptable. If you see violence against a child and do nothing, you are telling that child that what is happening to him or her is okay. The time to speak up is now. “

According to UNICEF, violence against children can and must be prevented. “Change can happen quickly by tackling the issue consistently from all angles and at all levels through: implementing protective laws and policies; promoting services; investing in education- including life skills, targeting programmes at those who most need them; and raising awareness to promote social change.

It is possible to prevent violence – several success stories from around the world show this. From grassroots movements at the individual and community level, to national and policy initiatives, we have what it takes to make childhood violence-free.   Guyana must recommit to preventing and ending violence.     We must act. End Violence Now and Break the Silence around all types of violence, abuse, exploitation and neglect.”

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First batch of students graduate from Creative Arts Institute

Valedictorian Esther Hamer receives one of her many prizes from Dr James Rose

Valedictorian Esther Hamer receives one of her many prizes from Dr James Rose

The Institute of Creative Arts held their first convocation ceremony on Thursday at the National Cultural Centre, graduating 58 students – the first batch of the newly-minted arts school.

The event saw more than 200 attendees and the graduates from all across Guyana. Ten students graduated from the National School of Dance, 25 graduated from the ER Burrowes School of Art, seven from the National School of Music, and 16 from the National School of Theatre Arts and Drama.

Among the high flyers are: Tammy Walker who was named the Best Graduating Student from the ER Burrowes School of Art; Quacy Welcome, Best Graduating Dance Student; Esther Hamer, Best Graduating Theatre Arts and Drama Student and Mellissa Lynch, Best Graduating Music Student.

Speaking at the ceremony Culture, Youth and Sport Minister, Dr Frank Anthony said:”Today, we make history, today we graduate the first set of students from the Institute of Creative Arts; this indeed is a proud moment for all of us,” he noted. He also used the opportunity to congratulate all the graduates and teachers for their hard work and dedication, adding that the Institute is a work in progress and by the end 2016 when the two other schools are launched, Guyana will also be accommodating overseas students who wish to pursue studies in the arts.

The graduating class of the Institute of Creative Arts poses with Prime Minister Samuel Hinds and Culture Minister, Dr Frank Anthony

The graduating class of the Institute of Creative Arts poses with Prime Minister Samuel Hinds and Culture Minister, Dr Frank Anthony

The Minister pointed out that the school is now at a greater advantage, since past students had limited choices and had to remain within their area of studies, while the new and future students can explore and pursue studies in multiple areas.

Also speaking at the event was Principal of the Institution, Professor Vibert Cambridge, who underscored the importance of the certificates received by the graduates. Cambridge said, in his address, that he was proud of the first batch of graduates, because they are well-equipped with knowledge to hit the world of work by storm. He then noted that the aim of the Institute is to educate students about the arts while empowering artistes through occupational functions. He also used the opportunity to congratulate the graduates and urged them to stay focused.

In her speech, Valedictorian Esther Hamer, who captured prizes for Best Graduating Drama and Theatre Arts Student, Best Student in Performance, Best Student in Production and Best Student in Research, noted that it was nothing less than hard work and sleepless nights that got her where she is. The actress noted that she had to sacrifice her family time and took time away from work all because she knew this was what she wanted. Hamer said twice she had reached the point of giving up but remembered her grandfather told her to never give up.

She concluded her speech with a quote from Konstanstin Stanislavski which says “Love art in yourself and not yourself in the art.”

Prime Minister Samuel Hinds and Culture Minister Frank Anthony are joined by the Lifetime Achievement Awardees Gem Madhoo-Nascimento, Professor Doris Elrina Rogers, Meighan Steele-Duke and Vivienne Daniel who were honoured at the graduation ceremony

Prime Minister Samuel Hinds and Culture Minister Frank Anthony are joined by the Lifetime Achievement Awardees Gem Madhoo-Nascimento, Professor Doris Elrina Rogers, Meighan Steele-Duke and Vivienne Daniel who were honoured at the graduation ceremony

Four Guyanese legends were also presented with lifetime awards for their contributions to the arts over the years. The awards were presented by the Principal of the Institute who said that the recipients of the awards qualified because of their unselfish and transformative contributions in Guyana.

The awardees are: Gem Madhoo-Nascimento, Professor Doris Elrina Rogers, Meighan Steele-Duke and Vivienne Daniel. The event closed with a melodious rendition from the National School of Music.

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Police seek DPP’s advice on Matthews Ridge murder

Slain: Samantha Ashby

Slain: Samantha Ashby

Three men remain in custody for questioning in relation to the murder of 32-year-old Samantha Ashby, who was found in a clump of bushes a stone throw away from her Pakera residence, Matthews Ridge, North West District earlier this week.

Investigators have approached the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) to determine whether there is sufficient evidence to charge the trio. Guyana Times understands that the Police at Matthews Ridge and its environs are making every effort to apprehend a fourth person, but up to late Friday evening, their efforts proved futile. The three men are presently in Georgetown, but investigators are cognisant of the legal detention period which will expire shortly.

A senior rank told the Guyana Times that once the DPP advises that charges are to be instituted against the men, they will make their court appearance early Monday morning. If the file requires additional information, the Police will have no alternative, but to either approach the High Court for an extension of the legal detention period or they will have to be released and asked to return to the Criminal Investigations Department (CID) headquarters.

Ashby was found around 11:00h on Tuesday by a group of schoolchildren, who were passing by, in the clump of bushes. Guyana Times was made to understand that the woman’s body bore marks of violence and her feet had abrasions.

Her eyes were “black” and “blue” and her face, swollen. There were bloodstains on her body and her knees were badly bruised. A post-mortem performed on the body of Ashby on Thursday proved that she was severely beaten and sexually assaulted.

The autopsy, performed by Dr Nehaul Singh, revealed that the mother of one suffered a broken hip and fractured skull. It also confirmed that the pregnant woman was raped before she was killed. Guyana Times reported that the woman’s fiancé contacted her and requested money so that he can travel out from where he was. At that point in time, Ashby did not have all of the cash, but was overheard telling him that she will get the money before the week was over. The following night, she reportedly told a friend that she was going to get cigarettes but never returned. She leaves to mourn her son, mother and siblings.

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Michael Jordan on $1M bail for causing death charge

The defendant:  Michael Jordan

The defendant:
Michael Jordan

Forty-three- year-old Michael Jordan was on Friday placed on $1 million bail on a charge of causing death by dangerous driving after objections to bail were overruled by Magistrate Fabayo Azore at the Georgetown Magistrates’ Courts.

It is alleged that on September 14, at Mabura Public Road, Upper Demerara, Region 10, Jordan drove motor vehicle GMM 7330 in a manner dangerous to the public causing the death of Raymond Khan and Jean Williams. Sixty-four-year-old Khan and 63-year-old Williams were siblings visiting Guyana on holiday when the speeding pickup that they were travelling in suffered a “blowout” and overturned around 08.15h. They were pronounced dead on arrival at the Georgetown Public Hospital.

In the courtroom, Magistrate Azore enquired whether the Administration of Justice Act (AJA) was being applied from Police Prosecutor Sean Blackman, who said it would not be applied, so the matter remained indictable.

Jordan was represented by Attorney Leslyn Charles, who told the court that her client has a stable place of abode at Lot 21 Queens Hall, East Coast Demerara and is the sole breadwinner of his family which consists of his wife, Subrina Khan, and his two children aged 10 and 6.

The defence counsel pointed out that the deceased were related to Jordan and he was injured as well during the accident and was hospitalised for four days.

Attorney Charles highlighted that while Jordan was receiving medical treatment, he was not under any Police supervision. She posited that if her client wanted to escape, he would have escaped, and this proved that he was not a flight risk. She further noted that Jordan has no prior convictions, as she applied for reasonable bail.

However, Prosecutor Blackman objected to bail, citing the prevalence and seriousness of the offence and the fact that two lives were lost during the accident.

Jordan was subsequently granted bail, but has to lodge his travel documents and report to the Providence Police Station. The case will next be heard on October 7 in the Courtroom of Magistrate Dylon Bess.

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PANCAP to hold high-level meetings next week

A meeting which was part of one of PANCAP’s earlier programme

A meeting which was part of one of PANCAP’s earlier programme

A series of high-level meetings of the Pan Caribbean Partnership against HIV and AIDS (PANCAP) will be held in Port of Spain, Trinidad and Tobago, next week, the Caricom Secretariat has announced.

On Monday, September 22, members of the Priority Areas Coordinating Committee (PACC), the technical advisory group to the PANCAP Executive Board, will meet to review key projects. A primary area for discussion will be the recently finalised draft monitoring and evaluation (M&E) framework and operational plan for the Caribbean Regional Strategic Framework (CRSF), 2014-2018. The CRSF will guide the work of partners into the Post-2015 Agenda period.

Other agenda items for this meeting include updates on the proposed Policy and Strategy Working Group (PSWG) on stigma and discrimination; the Justice for All programme, aimed at reducing stigma and discrimination in the Region; a status report on Phase Two of the Global Fund Round Nine Grant; review of the new UNAIDS 90-90-90 targets; the results of a recent study among men who have sex with men in the Caribbean; and an update on the preparations for the upcoming 13th Annual General Meeting of PANCAP.

On Tuesday, September 23, the PANCAP Executive Board will hold its 22nd meeting. The Executive Board will receive a report from the PACC meeting and will be invited to endorse the aforementioned CRSF, 2014-2018 and the accompanying M&E framework and operational plan as well as the PSWG on stigma and discrimination. PANCAP Coordinating Unit Director will provide an update on the upcoming 13th Annual General Meeting of the Partnership to be held in Guadeloupe, in November.

The Seventh Meeting of the Regional Coordinating Mechanism (RCM) takes place during this period. Key among agenda issues are reports on the status of Phase Two of the Global Fund Round Nine Grant and the RCM Concept Note development, including the country dialogue process.

On Wednesday, September 24, the PSWG on stigma and discrimination will hold its inaugural meeting under the chairmanship of the Caribbean Network of People Living with HIV (CRN+). This working group will serve as the principal advisory group to PANCAP on issues related to the removal of stigma and discrimination and promotion of human rights in the Caribbean.

The Coordinating Unit of PANCAP is organising and coordinating each of the meetings. PANCAP is a 62-member Partnership, which was established by Caricom Heads of Government in 2001 to respond to the HIV and AIDS epidemic in the Caribbean.

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World hunger falls, but 805 million still chronically undernourished

About 805 million people in the world, or one in nine, suffer from hunger, according to a new United Nations (UN) report released on Tuesday.

The “State of Food Insecurity in the World (SOFI 2014)” confirmed a positive trend, which has seen the number of hungry people decline globally by more than 100 million over the last decade and by more than 200 million since 1990-92. The report is published annually by the Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO); the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD); and the World Food Programme (WFP).

The overall trend in hunger reduction in developing countries means that the Millennium Development Goal (MDG) of halving the proportion of undernourished people by 2015 is within reach, “if appropriate and immediate efforts are stepped up”, the report said. To date, 63 developing countries have reached the MDG target, and six more are on track to reach it by 2015.

“This is proof that we can win the war against hunger and should inspire countries to move forward, with the assistance of the international community as needed,” the heads of FAO, IFAD and WFP, José Graziano da Silva, Kanayo F Nwanze and Ertharin Cousin, wrote in their foreword to the report.

They stressed that “accelerated, substantial and sustainable hunger reduction is possible with the requisite political commitment”, and that “this has to be well-informed by sound understanding of national challenges, relevant policy options, broad participation and lessons from other experiences”.

SOFI 2014 noted how access to food has improved rapidly and significantly in countries that have experienced overall economic progress, notably in Eastern and South-Eastern Asia. Access to food has also improved in Southern Asia and Latin America, but mainly in countries with adequate safety nets and other forms of social protection including for the rural poor.

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