Georgetown, Guyana – On Friday, February 8, 2019, the Ministry of the Presidency, Department of Social Cohesion, Culture, Youth and Sport conducted a successful community outreach and sensitization exercise in Ithaca, Region Five.
The forum, which was hosted in the upper flat of the Ithaca Primary School, saw encouraging turnout and participation from community members of all ages.
The community benefited from a comprehensive presentation on the tenets of social cohesion, and the importance of joining the fight for a united country.
Providing opening remarks at the forum was Director of Sports, Christopher Jones who reminisced on the saying –“Hand wash hand, mek hand come clean.”
“This basically means, ladies and gentlemen that we all need each other. None of us can build this country alone, so we must work together and be each other’s keepers,” Jones explained.
He encouraged residents of Ithaca to join the unity wagon and play their part in ensuring that Social Cohesion in Guyana is achieved.
Delivering remarks on behalf of the Regional Administration was the Deputy Regional Executive Officer, Sherwin Wellington who reminded that Social Cohesion is a most noble initiative undertaken by His Excellency President David Granger who eagerly wants Guyana’s National Motto of ‘One People, One Nation, One Destiny’ to be realized as soon as possible.
“When we speak of Social Cohesion in Ithaca, we don’t mean that it stays here. We mean that you must embrace your brothers and sisters from neighbouring communities like Blairmont and further afield. We must not see divisions, for the things that divide us are much less than the things that unites us,” Wellington said.
Providing an overview on the work of the Department of Social Cohesion, Technical Officer Ms. Pamela Nauth shared that “Social Cohesion is not a new concept. Our foreparents practiced social cohesion while fighting for us to enjoy the rights and freedoms that we enjoy today. What is new is the Department of Social Cohesion.”
She noted that so far, 102 sensitizations have been executed all across the country, with more than 78 training sessions being had in the area of Diversity Education and Inclusion.
“In order for Guyana to prosper, we need to be united. For us to be united, we have to ensure that there is equality and inclusion. We have to include everybody.”
Delivering the feature address, Minister Norton reminded that social cohesion starts with every basic act of kindness and compassion, tolerance and acceptance.
“The fact that you are all here today means that you value the vision of His Excellency, President Granger; it is an indication that you are willing to work with us to unite all the citizens of Guyana, and for that, I am most happy,” Minister Norton noted.
As a component of every sensitization session, residents had the opportunity to seek clarity on issues they did not understand, as well as voice their complaints and concerns to members of the visiting team.
One of the major issues for the people of Ithaca was the development of the community playfield.
Minister Norton encouraged the councillors of the Neighbourhood Democratic Council to submit proposals based on the community’s needs and the Ministry will examine areas of assistance.
“As you know, we have rehabilitated your basketball court, and your early childhood centre will soon be opened to create jobs and serve your community. We also want you to get your cultural groups and so in order so that you can become beneficiaries of cultural grants,” Minister Norton encouraged.
A young footballer, Shakeel Peters told the visiting team that he has taken the initiative coach a number of children in football, but currently lacks the equipment to properly execute the teachings.
Teacher of the Ithaca Primary School, Ms.Yutundi Grant also lobbied for assistance to receive a board for students to play table tennis.
“As it is, they usually set up tables and so to play. It’s more like ping pong, but with the right equipment, they can do so much better,” Ms. Grant reasoned. Another group also requested assistance for some basketball gears.
Sports Director, Mr. Christopher Jones guaranteed the community that he will return in a few days with all of the requested materials.
In the meantime, Minister Norton was able to put smiles on the faces of the basketball players in the community, by providing them with their very own ball.
In addition to the sensitization, Minister Norton walked extensively throughout the community to listen to the concerns and suggestions of other residents who could not attend the sensitization.
A main issue for the community’s elders was the condition of their roads. Minister Norton assured residents that he will consult his colleague Minister of Public Infrastructure to have the roads remedied as soon as possible.
In wrapping up, the residents all vowed to play their part in achieving social cohesion in Guyana.