Guyana Foundation reaffirming its commitment to transforming the lives of Guyanese

The Guyana Foundation, on Tuesday 10th April 2018, held a Press Conference/Luncheon to update the media and the public on the work of the Foundation and its vision for future projects. This briefing was held in the Conference Room of the New Thriving Restaurant on Main Street, Georgetown where the Trustees of the organisation, the Foundation’s Team from Guyana, Cayman Islands, special invitees and members of the diplomatic corps were in attendance.

The Founder of the organization Supriya Singh-Bodden, in her opening remarks told the audience that the Guyana Foundation began doing primarily charitable projects around Guyana from 2013 to 2014. However, it became evident while working in the villages that Guyana had a serious mental health problem as more and more cases of suicide began to occur. In addition the Foundation encountered countless persons whose lives were torn apart by domestic abuse, alcohol addiction and other substance abuse.

In view of this, the Foundation commissioned research to be done by Serena Coultress of Maastricht University, among others on the causes of suicide in Guyana.

The Foundation changed course to set up its first Sunrise Center. It was named Sunrise in an effort to allow its work to instil hope in persons so that they would want to wake up to see another Sunrise rather than go the dire route of ending their lives.

The Scotiabank Community Programme provided the vital financial assistance that was needed to make the Centre able to provide support services to at-risk individuals. Counselling is provided free of charge to persons. A wide selection of training courses are taught in floral decorations, sewing, cosmetology, computer repairs, IT training and much more. To date more than 150 adults students have graduated from these programmes. More than 300 children also benefitted from after-school programmes as well as a Kids Club. These kids programs provide mentorship to kids in underprivileged troubled homes. Particular emphasis is put on improving their numeracy and literacy skills.

Three of the students who have benefitted from the Sunrise Center programmes, Candace Calistro, Zohise Harris and Nateefa John were invited to tell their stories of how they become involved in the activities of the Centre and how it has transformed them. They were so emotional in expressing their experiences at being hopeless and depressed that it brought tears to the eyes of many persons in the audience but the end-result of their stories brought comfort. They are now well set to move on to a brighter future.

In her brief remarks, Scotiabank Marketing Manager, Ms. Jennifer Cipriani, said that she is working towards offering further assistance to the Guyana Foundation. She said that the stories of the young women made her realise that they did not gave money but hope to many persons. In March 2017, the Scotiabank Community Project donated US$36,000 in funding to assist the organisation in its humanitarian work in Guyana and has again done so this year, 2018.

Trustees of the Guyana Foundation, Stanley Ming and Eric Phillips expressed their appreciation to Scotiabank and the many donors who have assisted and continue to do so. Mrs Che Jian Ping, a Trustee and the owner of the New Thriving restaurants showed her appreciation by hosting the luncheon.  

With additional funding, the Guyana Foundation hopes to continue its efforts to improve the standard of living for Guyanese. In doing so, the organisation wishes to establish more Sunrise Centers on the Soesdyke/Linden Highway, Berbice and other areas in the future. More activities such as sports, music, drama, dance workshops, in addition to those already being offered at the Sunrise Center in Essequibo will be introduced. More bakeries will also be set up in remote communities as women empowerment projects. The Guyana Foundation would also like to assist the Wai Wai and other Indigenous communities to streamline their craft production and transportation issues to enable them to sell their products online which will bring vital income to their villages.

The audience and the Media were served with a special luncheon after the Press Conference.

 Group photo with Team members of the Guyana Foundation and the Sunrise Center with the diplomatic corps.

Group photo with Team members of the Guyana Foundation and the Sunrise Center with the diplomatic corps.

 Members of the Diploamtic Corps

Members of the Diploamtic Corps

 Special invitees and Sunrise Center Team

Special invitees and Sunrise Center Team

 Mrs Che Jian Ping, Trustee of the Guyana Foundation and Owner of the New Thriving Restaurant with Founder of the Guyana Foundation, Supriya Singh-Bodden.

Mrs Che Jian Ping, Trustee of the Guyana Foundation and Owner of the New Thriving Restaurant with Founder of the Guyana Foundation, Supriya Singh-Bodden.

 Mr. Stanley Ming, Trustee of the Guyana Foundation delivering brief remarks.

Mr. Stanley Ming, Trustee of the Guyana Foundation delivering brief remarks.

 Mr. Eric Phillips, Trustee of the Guyana Foundation delivering brief remarks.

Mr. Eric Phillips, Trustee of the Guyana Foundation delivering brief remarks.

 Ms. Jennifer Cipriani, Scotiabank Marketing Manager delivering brief remarks.

Ms. Jennifer Cipriani, Scotiabank Marketing Manager delivering brief remarks.

 Lunch with Special Invitees and the Diploamtic Corps

Lunch with Special Invitees and the Diploamtic Corps

 Candacie Calistro sharing her experiences. Sitting from left are the Child Crae Manager of the Sunrise Center, Madonna Paul, Nateefa John and Zohise Harris.

Candacie Calistro sharing her experiences. Sitting from left are the Child Crae Manager of the Sunrise Center, Madonna Paul, Nateefa John and Zohise Harris.

 Sunrise Center Manager, Miriam Hinds performing, "Back On My Feet Again"

Sunrise Center Manager, Miriam Hinds performing, "Back On My Feet Again"

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Successful Mental Health workshop held at Suddie

As Mental Health continues to be a prime issue of concern in Guyana, particularly the mental health of men, the Guyana Foundation continues in its quest, not only to talk about the problem, but also to be a driving force in the promotion of good Mental Health and Holistic Wellness for all Guyanese. In the year 2017, we commenced a program in partnership with the Guyana Police Force through the Richard Fickal Police College, training new recruits in the area of Mental Health.

On February 27th and 28th, 2018, staff and volunteers of the Guyana Foundation Sunrise Center conducted a two days’ workshop at the Police College at Suddie on the Essequibo Coast. The workshop took the form of group discussions, role plays, introspection exercises and games all with the objective of having a better understanding of Mental Health primarily the mental health of men. The aspiring police officers participated fully in all of the activities where many of them shared some of their own personal struggles not only as it relates to mental health but also to achieving personal success.

Some of the topics covered were as followed; understanding self, benefits of knowing who you are, identifying personal strengths, weakness and values, factors that shapes and build and individuals self-esteem, what does it mean to be successful, setting SMART life goals, the valley of blame and shame how negative life experiences influences the present, understanding cultural norms as it relates to men, understanding mental health, factors that affect and individuals mental health.

Overall, the sessions were a resounding success as persons took time to share what were some of the points throughout the workshop that resonated with them and how they intend to apply the knowledge learnt moving forward in their personal lives and career.

In her closing remarks to the participants, Manager of the Sunrise Center, Ms. Miriam Hinds told the young men, “… if you are going to be successful in the road ahead you first need to deal with those things in your lives that may potentially serve as obstacles to your success. This means that you must be true to who you are and be honest about your feelings.” She further said, “if you are going to be effective in serving others then you must also be willing to be served which mean, if you recognize that you need help then get the help that you need knowing that it will not make you less of a man”. 

The session ended with participants expressing gratitude to the organization. A follow-up session is slated for March 27th where the recites will demonstrate through role play what they would have learnt throughout the two days.

 Sunrise Center Manager, Miriam Hinds poses with staff and volunteers of the center as well as police cadets from the training college.

Sunrise Center Manager, Miriam Hinds poses with staff and volunteers of the center as well as police cadets from the training college.

 Sunrise Center Manager, Miriam Hinds during a role play at one of the workshops.

Sunrise Center Manager, Miriam Hinds during a role play at one of the workshops.

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A BIG Thank You for a Successful Conference

The Guyana Foundation wishes to extend sincere thanks to the Government of Cuba, the University of Medical Sciences, Ciego De Avila, The Rector and all of the professors.

Our appreciation and thanks are extended to The William James College of Global Mental Health, its President and Professors in particular, Jill Bloom, Marie Benessar and Natalie Cort .

A tremendous amount of effort was put into organizing the recently concluded mental health conference in Cuba.

These professional institutions shared completely with the Guyana Foundation a most incredible amount of knowledge on the issues of Child Abuse, Domestic Abuse, Achohol dependency and suicide. We will now continue our training in mental health counselling techniques with them to ensure that our work in the Sunrise Center and the communities is evidence based and more effective.

It was a privildge for us to able to spend this time together. Their committment to humanity is without question. 

We thank our translator, Margherita Alercon; your intellect is astounding. You are a real asset to your country.

We thank H.E. Ambassador Halim Majeed, Guyana's Ambassador to Cuba for supporting us every step of the way. The Guyana Team, Mayte, Dachiel and Ibis was so very supportive. We thank you all.

The Mangement and Staff of Hotel Playa Coco and other attendees who embaraced us like family.

We look forward to another fantastic conference in 2019.

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All We Need is Love! No Health without Mental Health

The Guyana Foundation in Collaboration with the University of Medical Sciences, Ciego De Avila Cuba recently concluded a three day symposium Psicoavila 2018, in Playa Coco, Cuba. The symposium provided a space for professional contributions from Cuba and the USA on the following topics, Alcohol dependency, Domestic Abuse, Child Abuse and Suicide. Many professionals from the field of psychology, medicine, and law spoke at the event. Most of these individuals have publications on the issues presented.

Attending from the University of Havana was Dr. Cristobal Martinez Gomez who spoke on Emotional Intelligence; Dr. Carmen Rey Benguira on Child Abuse; Dr. Leon Marmol Sonora on Neuro Linguistic Programming and Alcohol dependency; and Yeline Ruiz Betancourt on preventing suicide. Presentations on related topics were also made by Dr. Carmen Rey Benguira and Grisel Maria Alonso Gutierrez. In the field of law, Rafael Gonzalez Caballero presented on the legal rights of children.

In attendance and at the invitation of the Guyana Foundation was a team from the William James College for Global Mental Health in the USA, Dr. Jill Betz Bloom, Director of the Global Mental Health Program; Dr Natalie Cort, Director of the Cultural Immersion Program (Guyana); and Mari Bennasar, Director of Latina Mental Health Program. The William James Team explained the work of their college globally and highlighted its Immersion program in Guyana with the Guyana Foundation’s Sunrise Center in Essequibo.

Honorary Presidents of the event were Dr. Angel Batista Diaz, Rector of the University of Medical Sciences, Ciego De Avila and Supriya Singh Bodden, CCH, Founder of the Guyana Foundation.

Delegates were welcomed to the Playa Coco Resort in Cuba where the Guyana Flag was ceremonially raised in the presence of the Guyana Delegation from the Foundation, delegates and Guyana’s Ambassador to Cuba, H.E. Halim Majeed.

The Organizing Committee headed by Nathaly Duenas Lopez, and members Lourdes Alvarez Lopez made excellent arrangements for what was a very successful conference.

In her opening address, Supriya Singh Bodden said, “The issues we are here to understand more fully are just some of the ways humanity is crying out for help. There is no health without mental health. If we are to be truthful to ourselves we would admit that when we hear of these issues they seem too difficult for us to understand and it makes us sad. Many world leaders when asked to comment on issues pertaining to mental health move quickly on to other topics they feel more in control. This has to change. As the poet Rumi said, “We have the spark to start a fire”. I want to understand that to mean that each one of us in this room and beyond has that spark to start a fire of change to bring mental health issues out of the dark and into the light”

The Guyana Foundation is actively engaged through its Sunrise Center, offering mental health counselling in Guyana, thanks to the support and training received from these Universities.

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A Recap of our work in 2017

The Guyana Foundation would like to express thanks to the Media for highlighting our work over the past year, 2017 and wishes you and your families all the best for 2018. We appreciate your interest in everything that we have been doing and look forward for your continued support.

We are pleased to present to you some of our work over the past year, those activities being as follows:

1.     After-school mentorship and homework assistance for students of Zorg-en-Vlygt and Queenstown on the Essequibo Coast; 68 students were tutored through this program mainly in the areas of literacy and numeracy.

2.     Donations of clothing, foodstuff and hygiene products to Amerindian settlements up the Pomeroon River and villages on the East Coast of Demerara, such as Breezy Point aback of Buxton.

3.     Community leaders dialogues with religious groups, governmental agencies, non-government organizations.

4.     Outreaches in various communities on the Essequibo Coast disseminating information to residents on mental health and other social issues. Promoting holistic wellness with mothers of the adolescent pre-natal clinic at Charity and Dartmouth health Centers. Some of these sessions were partnered with the Ministry of Social Protection, mostly in the Lower and Upper Pomeroon River.

5.     Workshops on women’s empowerment in Zorg-en-Vlygt and Bartica reaching a total of 47 persons.

6.     Two mental health workshop with 52 cadets of the Richard Fickal Police College on how to understand the signs of suicidal ideation.

7.     Activities on Child Sexual Abuse Awareness in collaboration with the Childcare and Protection Agency.

8.     Outreaches to the elderly and disabled individuals, providing psychosocial, nutritional and health counseling and physiotherapy. Activities to honor the Elderly during the month of October in collaboration with the Ministry of Social Protection and talks to members of the disable community in recognition of disability week.

9.     The formation of a Kids Club to assist young children to learn the importance of hygiene in health and expressive art to unlock mental health issues. Through this, each child was given the opportunity to express his/her feelings; 32 children participated in this programme.

10. Children Summer Camp for 10 days with adolescents ages 12-18 and children ages 6-11, reaching a total of 84 children.

11. Fundraising activities on the Essequibo coast where the Scotiabank logo was used as a contributor to our work.

12. A weekly television programme on RCA TV Channel 8 in order to reach out to communities with information on mental health and other social issues.

13. The historic signing of an MOU between the Guyana Foundation and the University of Medical Sciences of Ciego De Avila in Cuba for conferences to be held annually dealing with mental health issues. The first conference was held in 2016 with the second being held between 17th - 19th January 2018 in Cuba. The University will train mental health counsellors we select from villages in Region #2 where we work. This will be done gratis except the air travel to Cuba for those selected. There is a shortage of mental health professionals in Guyana where only 5 psychiatrist are available to service the entire population. The terrain is vast and, therefore, many are without access to mental health support.

14. We graduated 92 participants in the following areas of Catering, Cosmetology, Fabric Designing, Electrical Installation, Tailoring & Dress Making and Computer Repairs and Maintenance.

15. Mental Health workshop with (75) health care providers from the Essequibo Coast, Pomeroon River, Capoey, Mashabo, Mainstay and Tapakuma Lakes and Bethany.

To date, our Managing Director of the Sunrise Center, Mrs. Miriam Roberts-Hinds has been instrumental in her effort to counsel and assist many victims of attempted suicide, domestic violence and various forms of abuse, that number being 163 persons.

The Guyana Foundation have established a craft shop, “Hand Made With Love”, in the Cayman Islands in order to assist us with funding for some of our projects. The Wai Wai people all the way in Region #9, with more orders expected soon, has completed our first order of craft.

Our activities received wide press coverage in Guyana through the print and electronic media as well as international. The BBC recently visited to do a documentary. Aljazeera invited us on a panel discussion on suicide in Guyana. The Economist UK published an article on our work. The World Weekly published an article on suicide highlighting our efforts. Prensa Latina Cuba, released video on our submission to the last conference on suicide in Guyana. Mr. Haimraj Hamandeo, our Senior Counsellor at the Sunrise Center was invited to attend the BABCP Annual Conference on Mental Health in the United Kingdom, (see link http://www.babcp.com/files/CBT-Today/cbt-today-september-2017.pdf), in July 2017, whereby our participation was publicized in the CBT Today, the official magazine of the British Association for Behavioral & Cognitive Psychotherapies.

This work could not have been possible without the funding from the Scotia community program and other donors. We would like to thank all of them for giving us the opportunity to make a difference. We look forward to continued collaboration this year.

Kind Regards,

Supriya Singh-Bodden, CCH

Founder,

Guyana Foundation

Tuesday 16th January 2018

 

Testimonials

https://www.facebook.com/theguyanafoundation/videos/1967842759897688/

https://www.facebook.com/theguyanafoundation/videos/1983014698380494/

https://www.facebook.com/theguyanafoundation/videos/1968501096498521/

Preparations underway for the second international conference on Mental Health in Ciego de Avila

Embassy of the Cooperative Republic of Cuba (January 4, 2018)

The Guyana Embassy in Cuba is working actively with the Guyana Foundation and the University of Medical Sciences of Ciego de Avila in supporting, coordinating and promoting the Second International Conference on Mental Health, Drug Abuse, Suicide and Domestic Violence which will be held at the Play Coco Hotel in the Province of Ciego de Avila on January 17-19, 2018

The Founder and President of the Guyana Foundation, Ms. Supriya Singh-Bodden, CCH, is expected to arrive in Cuba next week to meet with Dr. Angel Batista Diaz, Rector of the University of Medical Sciences of Ciego de Avila, and his Team which includes MSc Nathaly Duenas Lopez, President of the Avilanian Chapter of Health Psychology; Dr. Eva de la Nunez Ramos, Academic Vice-Rector and Vice-President; and Dr. Lourdes Alvarez Lopez, Head of the International Relations Department of the University, among others.

The Guyana Foundation is a Co-Sponsor of the Second International Conference and an international advocate against suicide, drug abuse and domestic violence.

According to Guyana’s Ambassador to Cuba, His Excellency Halim Majeed, this Conference will be larger than last year’s event. It will be attracting participants from the United States, Canada, the Caribbean and Iran, among others. A number of Ambassadors accredited to Cuba will also be attending.

The Program will field Seminars and Workshops dealing with:

Violence Against Women in the Family and its Impact on Child Abuse;

Suicide and Addictions;

The Repercussions of Addictions on the Quality of Life;

Prevention of Alterations in Child Development; and

The Promotion of Health and Prevention of Behavior Associated with Suicide.

 Ms. Supriya Singh-Bodden is seen here with Dr. Angel Batista Diaz formally signing a Memorandum of Understanding between the Guyana Foundation and the University of Medical Sciences of Ciego de Avila.

Ms. Supriya Singh-Bodden is seen here with Dr. Angel Batista Diaz formally signing a Memorandum of Understanding between the Guyana Foundation and the University of Medical Sciences of Ciego de Avila.

 Dr. Batista Diaz (left) has presented tokens of appreciation to Ms. Singh-Bodden and Ambassador Majeed (extreme right).

Dr. Batista Diaz (left) has presented tokens of appreciation to Ms. Singh-Bodden and Ambassador Majeed (extreme right).

Our Mission Statement

"To release the power of people globally to empower Guyanese to rebuild their communities, bring fulfillment and well-being to their families, enabling them to build relations of trust and friendship among themselves irrespective of race and beliefs."

As the year comes to an end, we, of the Guyana Foundation and the Sunrise Center, would like to thank some of the persons and international entities that heard our call and reached out to assist. Scotia Bank Funding has kept the doors of our Sunrise Center open for this entire year. Heartfelt thanks from the hundreds of persons who benefited from our programs.

Others who assisted are the William James College; Queens Health Outreach; University of Medical Sciences Ciego De Avila, Cuba; Rotary Club Of Grand Cayman; VSO, Mr Krish Nath; Hon. Kurt Tibbetts OBE; Ms Yvonne Jackman and Team; to name a few. The News agencies which assisted us as well are BBC, World Weekly, The Economist, Al Jazeera, Prensa Latina.

Many, Many thanks.

A Very Merry Christmas and A Happy and Prosperous 2018!

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Plans for the Mental Health conference in Cuba well underway

The upcoming conference on mental health scheduled for the 17th to 20th January 2018 which will be hosted by the University of Medical Sciences Ciego De Avila and the Guyana Foundation, is promising to be a great event. 

On the invitation of the Guyana Foundation, Medgar Evers College which is a senior college of The City University of New York (CUNY) will be sending a high level team to participate.

We have also invited the William James College, formerly Massachusetts School of Professional Psychology, which is a graduate college of psychology located in Newton, Massachusetts. The college will be sending a high level team to participate as well.

Some of Cuba's top professionals in the field of pschology will be presenting lectures.

We stand to learn a lot from these professional exchanges. the Guyana Foundation will be better prepared with their assistance and guidance to do our work with suicide counselling, dealing with alcohol addiction, domestic abuse, and child abuse.

We have extended invitations to the key persons in the Ministry of Public Health in Guyana and other professionals and leaders.

We are so grateful for all of the assistance we are getting from our friends in Cuba, New York, Massachusetts, the United Kingdom. Words cannot express our gratitude. We will put this experience to good use as we continue our work in 2018.

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Guyana Foundation opens craft store in Cayman

On Monday 20th November 2017, the Hand Made With Love craft store opened in Cayman. Lots of crafts are on display from Guyana, the Cayman Islands as well as those produced by inmates of the prison in Cayman.

Chloe, Naomi and Asher with their Mom, Joannah and Dad, Peter, cut the ribbon dressed in old style Caymanian costumes.

There was an opening prayer after which Mrs. Supriya Singh-Bodden, founder of the Guyana Foundation, gave some background information on the project. Officials from the prison spoke about all of the exciting things that will come on stream next year to sell craft made by inmates in the store.

Many thanks to the Press and everyone else in attendance at this activity, and especially to all of our suppliers in Guyana. Everything which includes handbags, crochet beachwear, slippers, baskets, tibisiri mats, belts, wallets, wai wai jewellery, were highly complimented from everyone who attended the opening ceremony.

Photos by Maggie Johnson.

 Chloe, Naomi and Asher with their Mom, Joannah and Dad, Peter, cut the ribbon dressed in old style Caymanian costumes.

Chloe, Naomi and Asher with their Mom, Joannah and Dad, Peter, cut the ribbon dressed in old style Caymanian costumes.

 A section of the craft shop.

A section of the craft shop.

 This visitor is very elated with these paintings.

This visitor is very elated with these paintings.

 Invitees at the opening of the craft store.

Invitees at the opening of the craft store.

 Mrs. Supriya Singh-Bodden (center).

Mrs. Supriya Singh-Bodden (center).

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Caricom Diplomatic Corp pledges support for Mental Health Conference in Cuba

Founder of the Guyana Foundation, Mrs. Supriya Singh-Bodden addressed a gathering of Ambassadors from numerous Caribbean Countries on the evening of Wednesday 15th November, in Havana, Cuba. She presented to them some background on the work of the Guyana Foundation and explained the recent collaboration of a Mental Health Conference between the Guyana Foundation and The University of Medical Sciences in Ciego De Avila. The purpose of the upcoming conference in January 2018  is to deal with alcohol addiction, domestic abuse, child abuse and suicide.

Mrs. Singh-Bodden made it clear that this event will not just be another talk shop, but will see these highly accomplished professionals assisting afterwards with the preparation of material that will be used during groundwork in the villages. This is easily understandable and is all in an effort to reach those persons who are suffering in silence and cannot find a way to reach out for help. She further encouraged these Ambassadors to ensure that in their own countries they put mental health on the front burner.

Unfortunately, in delivering her presentation, she said that we live in a world where funny cartoons can no longer be the normal diet of childhood; that was good in a simpler world. In order to successfully navigate our troubled world, we have a duty and a responsibility to give our children serious coping skills from a young age. Using as many tools as possible, cartoons with a purpose, apps with a purpose, child yoga with a purpose for example and tons of love attention and support.

At the end of the presentation, everyone in attendance pledged their support. Among some of the persons pledging their support were visitors to Cuba, not associated with the gathering, but overheard Mrs. Singh-Bodden presentation and approached her. One of those persons had experienced suicide in his family that has left its scars while another had experienced domestic violence and more.

This just shows the urgent relevance of these issues and the Guyana Foundation is willing to work along with appropriate organisations to address them.

 Mrs. Supriya Singh-Bodden addressing a gathering of Ambassadors from numerous Caribbean Countries on Wednesday evening, 15th November 2017 in Havana, Cuba.

Mrs. Supriya Singh-Bodden addressing a gathering of Ambassadors from numerous Caribbean Countries on Wednesday evening, 15th November 2017 in Havana, Cuba.