August 4, 2015

Amerindian youths now jobless, without direction

– leaders urge Government to replace or reinstate programme

Desmond Patricio, a young Amerindian of Region Eight (Potaro-Siparuni), says he now feels lost and without purpose now that the Community Support Officers (CSOs) programme has been discontinued, and since that was his sole source of income, now in his lonely moments, he ponders what opportunities would be made available for him to secure another job.
“I once was a CSO and I know that it was benefiting me though it was little, I was in the CSO programme and it was drawing my potential,” he told Guyana Times during an interview. CSOs were given a stipend of only $30,000.
Patricio, who is positive that he represents the voice of all Amerindians residing in hinterland communities, is pleading with the Government to reinstate the CSO programme or if not, quickly create new job opportunities for Amerindian youths.
The CSO initiative provided job opportunities and capacity building programmes for Amerindian youths.
Basically, CSOs assisted Amerindian Village Councils in executing their work in various areas such as health, education, governance, leadership, infrastructure, sports and community development.
Newly-elected Toshao of Region Nine (Upper Takutu-Upper Essequibo) Douglas Casimero also lamented the fact that young people in the region were now jobless and the Village Council which he was now charged to manage would no longer have the support of the CSOs.
“The CSO programme was very good. Looking at the young people in particular, where there are no employment opportunities available for these children who have completed … secondary school, as they would have nothing meaningful to do during that period until such time they get a job elsewhere. And I will now be handicapped without such support that was given to the previous Village Council,” he related.
Casimero is urging the Government to reconsider its decision and reinstate the programme. He pointed out that if the Government considered certain aspects of the programme to be flawed, it should implement measures to improve the initiative rather than having it scrapped.
“If there are deficiencies, then let’s improve it. These young people are now disadvantaged and they will be idle and have nothing to do,” he noted.
Region Two Councillor Beatrice Mittelholzer said she did not understand why any Government would want to put the country’s youths at a disadvantage, noting that if the Administration was not pleased with the initiative, it should have created an alternative before ending the CSO programme.
“These Amerindian youths are well educated and they have no other forms of getting a job and it is always better for them to be in their communities where they can serve and help develop their community. Most of these youths now will not know what to do. They will eventually come out on the coastland looking for jobs and then the development of Amerindian communities will be neglected,” she reasoned.
The A Partnership for National Unity/ Alliance For Change (APNU/AFC) Administration fired 1972 CSOs in the hinterland regions across the country because it was believed that their operations were political.
Minister of State, Joseph Harmon said it was always found that the programme, which has been in existence for over five years, was being used by the previous Administration for political purposes. This being the case, he said, their sacking was justified.

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PM urged Guyanese to be conscious of new threat to Guyana’s freedom

– as they celebrate Emancipation Day

As Guyanese observed Emancipation Day (Freedom Day,) Prime Minister Moses Nagamootoo called on citizens to be conscious of the new challenge to them and the nation freedom.

Prime Minister Moses Nagamootoo and wife Seeta Nagamootoo with Minister of Business and Investment Dominic Gaskin were among the crowd at the ACDA Emancipation Day celebrations at the National Park

Prime Minister Moses Nagamootoo and wife Seeta Nagamootoo with Minister of Business and Investment Dominic Gaskin were among the crowd at the ACDA Emancipation Day celebrations at the National Park

Speaking with reporters at the Emancipation observation at the National Park on Saturday, the Prime Minister noted that the challenge “to conquer us, to enslave us, once again”. He was referring to the challenge from Venezuela to our territory and people.
To this end, the Prime Minister pointed out that the spirit of our African ancestors, to resist and fight against oppression and domination, “is still a live fight”, the Government Information Agency (GINA)
“We cannot separate the struggle of African people for liberation, the struggle for a nation state of all of our Guyanese people with this new challenge to take away what we have, that is our nationality, our identity and what we are-a Guyanese people,” the PM said.
Prime Minister Nagamootoo noted that Freedom Day is an event for all races, for the reason that all have drawn inspiration from the African struggle, the core of which has been resistance. He pointed out that resistance has been at the heart of the many struggles against injustices and wrongs.
He noted that the African fight is not over, because there is still a debt that is owed. For the reason that slavery benefited European powers, there is resistance for the recognition of that fact, even for a moral debt to be paid. The new Administration fully supports this resistance for repatriation, the PM said.
Guyanese from all walks of life turned out at the National Park to join the annual Emancipation celebrations, hosted by the African Cultural and Development Association (ACDA.) This year, the ACDA’s event was commemorated under the theme “Rekindling our past glory through youth innovation”. They were joined by several Government Ministers.
The grand celebrations at the National Park featured a number of songs, dances and other cultural displays by both local and overseas performers. Performers included the Djoniba Dancers out of the USA, Blakk Rasta out of Ghana’s and from Guyana recently-crowned Miss World Guyana Lisa Punch, Natural Black, Mystic Dance Group, Devine Star, X Factor, Charmaine Blackman, Junior Calypso, Shantel Gittens and former Chutney King Roger “Young Bill Roger” Hinds.
Apart from the live performances, there was a fashion display, activities for the children and a number of food and beverage booths.

A section of the crowd at the 2015 ACDA Emancipation Day celebrations at the National Park

A section of the crowd at the 2015 ACDA Emancipation Day celebrations at the National Park

Freedom Day or Emancipation Day is celebrated in Guyana on August 1. Emancipation Day or Freedom Day, as it was earlier called, marks the abolition of slavery in 1834.

 

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Marijuana is more dangerous for men than women, experts warn

A new British study has revealed that smoking marijuana is more dangerous for men than women, with men four times as likely to experience cannabis psychosis.
Previous research has examined the relationship between marijuana and psychosis, but the role of gender in relation to the drug’s mental health effects is less well understood.
Psychosis is a mental health disorder that causes people to perceive things differently from those around them, whether it manifests as a loss of contact with reality in the form of delusions or hallucinations, and/or difficulty performing simple tasks.
But it remains unclear why the male brain appears to be more susceptible to cannabis induced psychosis.
In pursuit of answers, Ian Hamilton of Britain’s University of York drew on past literature and National Health Service (NHS) admission records to compile the study.
“Male cannabis users outnumber female users by 2:1,” Hamilton observed. “However, this ratio increases significantly for those admitted to hospital with a diagnosis of cannabis psychosis, with males outnumbering females by 4:1.”
There is nevertheless no definitive scientific data to explain these statistics.
While Hamilton’s study, published in the Journal of Advances in Dual Diagnosis, may support previous research suggesting that oestrogen forms a defensive barrier against the effects of cannabis, there is as much evidence that this predominantly female hormone actually accentuates the drug’s effects.
“The marked gender differences in rates of cannabis psychosis is puzzling,” Hamilton said.
“It is possible that mental health and specialist drug treatment services, which have a disproportionate number of men, are identifying and treating more males with combined mental health and cannabis problems.
“However, it is also possible that women with cannabis psychosis are not being identified and offered treatment for the problems they develop.
“When it comes to cannabis psychosis gender does matter,” he added.
Hamilton concedes that the NHS admission records, which were his primary source of data, may have been corrupted by social factors. He proposes that fewer women resort to admitting themselves to hospital for drug related problems than men, even if their psychosis is severe. With twice as many men frequently using cannabis as women, the chances of more male admissions to hospital are doubled from the outset, moreover.
“This research follows a tradition of asking one question only to find by the end you have created many more. All we can say for certain is that when cannabis and psychosis collide, gender does matter,” Hamilton said.
The University of York researchers said their focus on gender differences is important to help improve understanding and the provision of gender sensitive services. (Caribbean360)

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“Visit Rupununi” initiative to boost tourism sector

Rupununi-based stakeholders in the tourism sector on Thursday agreed to collaborate to establish an organisation to coordinate the further development of the industry in the region.
The “Visit Rupununi” Organisation will establish tourism as a central part of the region’s economy by increasing the number of visitors and improving visitor satisfaction.
At a one-day working session in the Regional Democratic Council’s office in Lethem, Region Nine (Upper Takutu-Upper Essequibo), 35 representatives from the communities, Private Sector, and regional government and Non-Governmental Organisations decided to set the new body as they aired their concerns about the future of the industry. This is according to Conservation International (CI)-Guyana, which facilitated the session.
They collectively decided on the mandate and functioning of the new organisation, agreeing that the main areas of focus would be increasing marketing and promotion of the region as a whole internationally and domestically; developing capacity to raise the standard of the region’s tourism products, improving effective management of the sector; and partnering with the relevant national and other agencies to ensure enabling conditions for growth of the sector.
CI also stated in its press release that participants expressed the importance of urgently engaging the Ministries of Tourism, Business, and Indigenous People’s Affairs for their support.

Participants during the working session

Participants during the working session

They also emphasised the necessity of collaboration among themselves and with the national Private Sector and Government agencies responsible for the sector, especially the Guyana Tourism Authority and the Tourism and Hospitality Association of Guyana.
Ensuring a properly planned and operated nature-based tourism sector is one of the most effective ways to raise the standard of living of Rupununi residents while increasing the value of its natural and cultural assets. This working session was a critical point for regional stakeholders to agree on how to turn this much spoken-about potential into reality. The Rupununi is one of Guyana’s most visited regions and currently has some of the best examples of community-owned and operated tourism facilities in the country.
Participants also agreed to implement some actions immediately, including the establishment of a Tourist Information Centre in Lethem, and the formal establishment of the organisation. The Centre is intended to be an information hub for visitors to the Region. These efforts are being coordinated by Ms. Candace Phillips, a former educator and community project management professional.
The event was facilitated by CI under its “Leveraging Natural Capital in Guyana’s Rupununi” project. This project is funded by the Multilateral Investment Fund (MIF) of the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB), and the Swift Family Foundation.
CI is an international not-for-profit Non-Governmental Organisation and has been working in Guyana through the locally registered Conservation International Foundation (Guyana) for over 20 years, linking human development with conservation of the earth’s living natural heritage; including supporting the development of the country’s tourism sector.
“Building upon a strong foundation of science, partnership and field demonstration, CI empowers societies to responsibly and sustainably care for nature, our global biodiversity, for the well-being of humanity”.

 

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GWI alarmed over abuse of staff by customers

– as D’Edward man charged for threatening meter reader

The Guyana Water Incorporated (GWI) has expressed concern over an increase in incidents whereby customers are verbally abusing and violently threatening meter readers, disconnection teams and Water Service Inspectors.
According to a release from the utility company, a customer from D’Edward Village, on the West Coast of Berbice (WCB), is currently before the court for verbally abusing and issuing threats to a GWI meter reader attached to the Fort Wellington, WCB facility. The incident reportedly occurred in early July, when the GWI meter reader requested access to the customer’s premises in order to gain an accurate reading from his water meter.
The GWI employee was then verbally abused by the customer upon entering the premises. The employee claimed that she was made to endure a barrage of offensive language and threats to her well-being.
Upon reporting the incident to the GWI Customer Services Manager responsible for the Fort Wellington Office, the Guyana Police Force was contacted and a full report on the incident was provided. This resulted in the subsequent arrest of the D’Edward Village customer who was charged with indecent conduct and verbal abuse. The incident was brought before the Blairmont Magistrate’s Court in July.
During these proceedings, the accused pleaded not guilty and the matter was sent to the Fort Wellington Magistrate’s Court where it was set to be heard on July 29. The GWI meter reader involved in the incident has been asked to appear and is willing to testify.
According to the water agency, this incident is reflective of an overarching problem affecting GWI’s field employees who are experiencing heightened abuse by customers. Acting GWI Chief Executive Officer (CEO), Nigel Niles, has mandated that Customer Service Managers make contact with the Guyana Police Force regarding any incident in which customers threaten bodily harm or engage in excessive verbal abuse of any GWI employee.
“The safety of our employees is of utmost importance,” the CEO pointed out while adding, “we will not tolerate any threats of violence towards our field operatives or Customer Service Representatives stationed at our offices. The company will seek prosecution of any customer who attempts to verbally abuse or physically attack any GWI employee”.
Niles went on to say that GWI has implemented a ‘no tolerance policy’ for excessive verbal abuse or any form of physical abuse by customers.  He further advised that customers who are disgruntled must seek assistance through the normal channels provided by the company’s Customer Services Department.
Additionally, the acting CEO advised that customers must be cognisant of the fact that they are legally obligated to allow GWI meter readers access to their water service meters as stipulated in the Water and Sewerage Act, 2002. He further indicated that it is an offence to obstruct any GWI employee from gaining access to GWI’s apparatus. Acts such, an attempt to do such can result in prosecution, Niles added.
For more information on GWI’s Customer Service policies, customers can call GWI’s Public Relations Department on 225-0471-5; visit the company’s website www.gwiguyana.com or send an email to pro@gwi.gy.

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Almost 4000 cases of child abuse reported in 2012

By Kristen Macklingam

In its continued efforts to provide social and welfare services, the Child Care and Protection Agency (CCPA) during the year of 2012 attended to 3689 cases of child abuse which were reported via the then Human Services and Social Security Ministry and “walk-ins” to the Agency.
The CCPA in a report to the National Assembly recently stated that it was able to give a 100 per cent response to all of these cases where it provided safe places for recovery and rehabilitation for each victim. Of the total, 503 victims who needed protection.
Guyana Times understands that psychosocial support and other assistance were provided to about 10,000 at-risk children and their families and the Agency attended to more than 16,000 cases that year.
The CCPA stated that while it had successes, there were insufficient resources and services to make lasting changes in the lives of its clients.
The Agency had difficulties in reaching its target to facilitate the re-unification of 250 children living in institutions with their families or family substitutes and receiving financial and psychosocial support for their continued well-being.
The combined total of children placed in foster care and children re-integrated with their own families was 173. This is 69 per cent of the target.
It was noted that the shortfall in the target was due to the inadequate number of foster families available and insufficient financial assistance for families to have the children return to the family homes.
In spite of constraints, the CCPA was able to host 12 training workshops for persons who provide child protection services, including Police Officers and caregivers at children’s homes and orphanages.

Overpopulated
children’s homes
Meanwhile, children’s homes and orphanages were visited and monitored to ensure the implementation of the minimum standards of operations and 200 vulnerable children were provided with alternative care (out-of-home care) at the three State Care Centres located at Mahaica, Sophia and Georgetown.
The CCPA explained that these centres were overpopulated throughout the year as a result of the demand for these services, the severity of emerging cases and the vigilance and responsiveness of staff.
“The three Government-owned Care Centres (safe houses) for children in need of protective care continued to be overpopulated due to an increased number of children being made vulnerable by inadequate parental care and child abuse. Apart from the Government Care Centres, the 20 private children’s homes and orphanages also had issues of overcrowding. ..There were 805 children in institutional care at the end of 2012, with 220 at the Government-managed Care Centres in Sophia, the Drop-in-Centre and the Mahaica Children’s Home.”
Unfortunately, seven per cent of the target 3000 parents and other primary caregivers were equipped with techniques and skills for effective parenting.
“The low level of achievement occurred as a result of insufficient resources. More resources, both human and financial, are needed to conduct this activity country-wide,” the Agency reported.
However, the CCPA was able to facilitate the Adoption Board where 12 meetings were held throughout the year and families were found for 109 children through the adoption process.
The Agency also reported that one of its targets set for the said year was to conduct public awareness programmes via the media on “Child Rights” and other issues affecting the well-being of children as well as to encourage community members to foster a child.
“Work was done, but not enough to make an impact. This was due to inadequate resources…A national public awareness campaign is needed to ensure the desired result,” the CCPA added.

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Cuban national shot on Regent Street during robbery

A Cuban national is now nursing a gunshot wound to the chest at a private medical institution following a robbery on Regent Street, Georgetown on Sunday.
Thirty-five-year-old Mirko Cardenos was reportedly walking along Regent Street when he was attacked by two men, one of whom was armed with a handgun.
Information reaching Guyana Times revealed that the two perpetrators exited a car and confronted Cardenos demanding that he hand over all his personal belongings. The Cuban national reportedly put up a fight and it was then one of the men discharged a round, hitting him in his chest.
A source told Guyana Times that after receiving the gunshot injury, Cardenos fell to the roadway, and the bandits went into his pocket and collected the money he had in his possession – some $9000. The men made good their escape in a waiting motor car.
The Police have since launched an investigation into the robbery. No arrest has been made.

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Pedestrian killed on East Coast highway

A pedestrian has become the latest road fatality after he was struck down by a motor vehicle while attempting to cross the Montrose Public Road, East Coast Demerara on Saturday about 20:45h.
The dead man has been identified as 46-year-old Byron Persaud of Vryheid’s Lust North, ECD.
According to information received, Persaud received severe injuries about his body and might have died on the spot.
He was subsequently picked up and rushed to the Georgetown Public Hospital where he was pronounced dead on arrival.
The driver of the vehicle, according to the Police, was taken into custody to assist with investigations.

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Haruni man shot during argument

A Haruni, Soesdyke/Linden Highway man was on Sunday afternoon shot twice during an argument with another man in the village. The incident occurred about 15:30h.
Injured is Ganesh Henry, 30, of Haruni Creek, Soesdyke/Linden Highway.
According to information received, the injured man and the suspect were involved in an argument which turned into a scuffle.
Guyana Times understands that the suspect reportedly left the scene and returned with a gun. He then discharged two rounds at Henry hitting him in his abdomen and chest before fleeing the scene.
Henry was rushed the hospital where he was admitted. His condition is said to be stable but serious.
The Police have launched an investigation into the shooting incident.

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PPP/C MPs Collin Croal, Harry Gill ready to develop Guyana

Collin Croal and Harry Gill, yet another two new faces on the People’s Progressive Party/Civic (PPP/C) List of Members of

Collin Croal

Collin Croal

Parliament (MPs) say they are overwhelmed with ideas which can be used to advance Guyana with regards to security, tourism, regional development and youth representation.
Guyana Times interviewed the individuals, both of whom were excited to take up their roles as MPs in the National Assembly and to be the voice for the people of Guyana.
Croal, who was the Permanent Secretary for Ministry of Local Government, is the MP representing Region One (Barima-Waini), therefore, he noted that his main focus would be concerning the welfare of the people of that district.
“I am representing Region One so at every opportunity available I will use to represent issues, concerns, the interests, programmes and policies on behalf of the people of Region One,” he said.
In terms of his personal interests, Croal said he was always passionate about youth issues. “I have always been in the area of youth work, from a young age I started in the PYO (Progressive Youth Organisation) for a number of years for the PPP. So I have no hesitation in representing and advocating youth issues,” he expressed.
In addition, because of his background within the Ministry of Local Government and the Ministry of Amerindian Affairs, Croal said he is positive of his ability to make meaningful contributions in those areas when the PPP/C makes way to Parliament. Croal noted too, that he is willing to serve in whatever way the PPP/C requires of him as it would be an honour for him to represent Guyanese in any way he can.
“I accepted the offer to be MP for the PPP/C because I accept it as an honour to be offered, it therefore means that the leadership of the Party sees that I can contribute in some meaningful way… and I always enjoy anything that allows me to serve the wellbeing of our people and to be able to advance their cause and this is something that I love to do and therefore I

Harry Gill

Harry Gill

had no hesitation when my name was proposed and I was offered to accept,” he related.
Similarly, Harry Gill is eager to take up his role as MP for the PPP/C as it has always been his passion to serve the Guyanese people.
“I have been living in the United States for 23 years and I came home to make a meaningful contribution to the development of Guyana,” he said, noting that it was always his passion to pursue a political career but his obligations to his then young children prevented him from doing so.
Gill said he has a wealth of knowledge in areas of crime fighting and tourism and as such, cannot wait to make his ideas known in Parliament.
“I want to focus on the ‘bread and butter’ issues. Too many politicians focus too much on the bigger picture. We need to be more concerned about those voiceless Guyanese who need representation,” he posited.
Gill said in the past, he had made recommendations to Police Commissioner Henry Greene to help with getting illegal weapons off the streets but none of his proposals were implemented.
Gill’s daughter is a Detective and his son-in-law is a Police Officer attached to the New York Police Department (NYPD), and as such, he believes he has gained much knowledge from them about strategies which American officials implement to tackle crime.
One approach which he believes can get illegal weapons off the streets is to establish a committee tasked with “buying” illegal weapons. Another is to provide monetary incentives directly to the officers whenever he/she unearths an illegal weapon.
Meanwhile, Gill said he can significantly contribute to developing Guyana’s tourism. “There are lots we can do to boost tourism. But we need to be prepared for tourism before we go all out,” he related.
Gill said he will push to have measures in place to ensure there is better customer service, not only in tourism related establishments but in simply places like utility companies.
Also, he noted that the roads need to be properly marked with reflective paints to ensure tourists are safe whenever they travel around the country.
“The first thing most tourists do is rent a car so now you can’t have them travelling up Berbice or on the East Bank and the roads are not properly done. Imagine the impact it would have if a tourist lost their life this way. So this is why we need to prepare Guyana for tourism,” he said.
Another suggestion he has in mind is to promote Guyana on the international market through innovative means. “We should offer prizes on game shows like the ‘Prize is Right’ and this will market our product, our tourism,” he said, noting that it will not cost officials much to offer a ticket for two to travel to the Kaieteur Falls, all expenses paid for, especially when compared to the cost it will incur to run advertisements on foreign televisions channels.
More importantly also, Gill said he will push to make tourism more affordable to the Guyanese public whether through subsidies or other means.

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