On Friday 22nd June 2018, a team from the Guyana Foundation conducted an outreach to the village of Mashabo in the Pomeroon-Supenaam, Region No. 2. The team consisted of Founder, Supriya Singh-Bodden, Sunrise Center Manager, Ms. Miriam Hinds, Project Manager, Mr. Neil Bacchus, along with volunteers from Georgetown and the Essequibo.
The village of Mashabo is set back from the coast, with ten minutes by car from the Huis t’Dieren Public Road, across the Itiribisi Lake known as the Hot and Cold Lake. It is called the Hot and Cold Lake because at one section of the beach there is a large bush and on one side the water is warm and if you walked out of the water and round to the other side of the bush the water is cold.
There is need for much development in this community. We discovered that the soil can be developed to carry on certain types of agricultural production but there is a requirement for proper infrastructure and training. There is a high level of unemployment due to the timber business being slow and difficult. The community would like to have another solar powered well at the other end of the village; electricity is necessary for the schools and the Medex Health Center where basic medical supplies are also required.
In our discussion with the Chief of the village, he said that they would like to do so much for the community such as building a guest house for tourist on their visit to the village where they can enjoy fishing, water sport, and much more. They would also like more activities to keep the interest of the youths alive instead of the problems which many of them faced due to alcohol and substance abuse, and prostitution which is prevalent among them. There is also a call for a school bus as this will encourage parents to send their children to secondary school since it is costly for parents to do so due to the use of private buses.
The Guyana Foundation has decided to reach out to help this community by providing skills training for the young people so that they can acquire work for themselves. They love sports such as cricket, football and volley ball and so we have also decided to garner some sporting equipment for them through fund raising.
The reason for the Guyana Foundation going into this village is because one day while visiting the town of Charity, we met a young man lying on the ground, drunk and passed out. We were told that he came from Mashabo. Similarly, the young women in the rum shops in Charity come from these remotely located depressed Amerindian villages.
The Guyana Foundation through its Sunrise Center would like to commence work immediately to prepare those residents affected for counseling on alcohol and substance abuse as well as mental health topics. We will also begin the skills training courses and we are appealing for assistance of donations for some of these areas mentioned above. The majority of Amerindians in this village are of Arawak origin and number under 1000 persons.
One young man who spoke up at our meeting said that he was looking forward to us coming back to do what we said we would because they really need the assistance. Before he could finish his sentence his voice broke with emotion.
The Guyana Foundation and its vibrant team also visited the island of Wakenaam in the Essequibo River on Saturday 23rd June 2018, where a meeting and workshop was held at the Arthurville Primary School with residents. The main topic discussed was mental health where the residents were educated on the myths and facts of it and how to cope with persons suffering from depression. At the end of the session, a community support group was set up to assist person in skills training and to offer mental health counseling, among others.