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.