Community outreach at Tapakuma (St. Deny's Mission)

On Tuesday 15th January 2019, a team which included staff and volunteers from the Guyana Foundation conducted an outreach at Tapakuma or St. Deny’s Mission. This is an Amerindian village which is located in the hinterland and is 12 miles or 27 kilometers from Anna Regina. It is populated with 400 residents. There is approximately 15,000 acres of land space where farming and lumbering are the main sources of income.  Even though the villagers engaged themselves in securing jobs to meet their demands, there are still some basic needs that are not covered and as such, poverty continues to prevail. Within Tapakuma is Dawa, which is the conservancy that controls the water for the rice farmers in the entire Region No. 2. 

Managing Director of the Sunrise Center, Ms. Meena in her opening remarks to the gathering, explained the mission and the role the Guyana Foundation plays in the development of communities and the lives of poverty stricken citizens. This information was shared so that the participants would be aware of the services/benefits available so that they can utilize them as a community or individually.  

Ms. Sharon Slate, the Canadian Psychologist who is attached to the Guyana Foundation through CUSO did a presentation on “Mental Health – it causes and prevention”. This information was well received by persons who heard about mental health but were not certain what it was all about. Persons sought clarification on their beliefs and facts.   

Ms. Supriya Singh-Bodden, Founder of the Guyana Foundation, has committed herself to give assistance to the community by offering a free skill course of the residents’ choice which on completion will generate income for them. She will also arrange for someone to be trained to assist the Health Worker with cases of Mental Health. 

Tapakuma Village in Region No. 2

Tapakuma Village in Region No. 2

Ms. Sharon Slate delivering her presentation to the gathering at Tapakuma.

Ms. Sharon Slate delivering her presentation to the gathering at Tapakuma.

Some of the persons who attended the meeting.

Some of the persons who attended the meeting.

Rowing the Atlantic Ocean without leaving the Commonwealth

The Guyana Foundation and the Commonwealth Row partnership is one of the coolest things yet. This is to notify everyone that Mr. Richard Allen of the Royal Marines Commando left Sierra Leon in Africa on the evening of Thursday 13th December to row to Guyana. 

The Guyana Foundation has given him the name, “Tamukke”, for his boat, which is an Amerindian word for brotherhood and unity. He will arrive in Guyana in February of 2019.  

Mr. Allen has sent us educational packs to distribute to schools about the Commonwealth and the value of protecting the ocean. The Foundation will be working together with Richard on many projects in the future and his row will raise awareness about our work in Guyana globally. 

If you would like to follow the live tracker on his website, https://commonwealthrow.com/the-team/ and https://commonwealthrow.com/the-row/, you can see how he is progressing over the Atlantic heading to Guyana.

It is a challenging journey and he will have to deal with the doldrums; he is a Commando and highly trained. The fact that he found the Guyana Foundation and to reach out to assist us in this way is just incredible.  We will continue to keep you posted on the events planned when he approaches Guyana. In the meantime his website can keep you informed.

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Guyana Foundation spreads Christmas Cheers to the children of Essequibo

On Saturday 15th and Wednesday 19th December, 2018 the Guyana Foundation gave back to the children of Essequibo by spreading Christmas Cheers.

The Sunrise Center came alive last Saturday 15th December with a children’s Christmas party which saw over two hundred children enjoying themselves and having fun. Guyana Foundation Trustee, Mrs. Che Jian Ping travelled to Essequibo Coast where she handed out gifts and entertained children from villages within Adventure to Affiance and pupils from our after school program.

Our Center manager, Ms. Meena welcomed the children to the Sunrise Center and along with staff and volunteers, (Mr. Punesh, Ms. Deowattie, Glennis, Maharanie, Kendra, Rachael, Anousckha, Lorraine, Narima and Carlene), served snacks and drinks along with goodies from New Thriving Restaurant. The children had fun participating in games, singing of carols and dancing. Transportation was provided for the safe arrival and departure of the kids so that they can continue to enjoy the holiday in the best of health.

On Wednesday 19th December, a children’s Christmas party was also held at Mashabo’s Health Centre, which is an Amerindian village across the Ituribisi Lake on the Essequibo Coast. Regardless of the inclement weather there were over one hundred children who were entertained, received Christmas gifts and party bags for this holiday. Ms. Deowattie one of the Center’s ancillary staff assisted in the preparation of the party bags. She has been fully involved in the work of the Guyana Foundation for more than two years now and assists with the kids programme at the Center.

The children at the Health Center had their face painted and enjoyed games such as tagging the tail to the donkey, throwing the ball through the clown’s mouth, among others. Each child was rewarded with confectioneries for their attempts. Gifts were distributed by Pliston Charles, Deputy Toshau of Mashabo village, who was Santa, Mrs. Ramdat and Ms. Deowattie.

Great support and assistance to ensure this party was a success came from Mr. Punesh, Ms. Deowattie, Mrs. Arlene Ramdat (Regional Chairman’s wife), Kendra, Anousckha and Rachael. The Toshau, Mr. Sylvian Raphael and Ms. Faye (Medex) expressed their gratitude to the members of the Guyana Foundation for this party since it was the first of its nature and they look forward to making it an annual feature. This was indeed a festive occasion with Christmas carols in the air and so much to eat and drink and the kids clutching unto their gifts and party bags with smiles lighting up their faces, what fun and happiness.

Toshau Raphael, councillors and villagers of Mashabo village extends best wishes, happiness and a successful 2019 to Mrs. Supriya Singh-Bodden, Trustees and staff of the Guyana Foundation and look forward for our continuous support to their village in the future.

A section of the children and with their parents at the party at Mashabo village.

A section of the children and with their parents at the party at Mashabo village.

Toshau Slyvian Raphael of Mashabo dressed as Santa distributed gifts to the children of the village.

Toshau Slyvian Raphael of Mashabo dressed as Santa distributed gifts to the children of the village.

Some of the Christmas gifts that were presented to the children of Mashabo.

Some of the Christmas gifts that were presented to the children of Mashabo.

Children of the Essequibo Coast being entertained at the Sunrise Center Christmas party.

Children of the Essequibo Coast being entertained at the Sunrise Center Christmas party.

Some of the children with their gifts at the Sunrise Center.

Some of the children with their gifts at the Sunrise Center.

GF Trustee, Mrs. Che Jian Ping assisting with the distribution of gifts.

GF Trustee, Mrs. Che Jian Ping assisting with the distribution of gifts.

Cuso volunteer joins the Guyana Foundation

The Guyana Foundation in association with its major donor Scotia Bank, are extremely pleased to announce that the organization will have the benefit of a trained Canadian registered psychologist to join its staff.

This has been made possible by CUSO International, which is a not-for-profit development organization that works to eradicate poverty and inequality through the efforts of highly skilled volunteers, collaborative partnerships and compassionate donors. Its vision is a world where all people are able to realize their potential, develop their skills and participate fully in society. Their mission is to reduce poverty and inequality through the efforts of volunteers, partners and donors.

Country manager of Cuso, Ms. Vanessa Thompson, began talks with the Foundation some weeks ago. Volunteer, Ms. Sharon Slate, holds a Masters’ Degree in Counselling, and a Bachelors’ Degree in psychology and is a Member of the Psychologist Association of Alberta, Member of the American Society of Clinical Hypnosis, and a Member of the College of Alberta Psychologists. This forms a part of her credentials.

Miss Slate will assist us in our mental health work in Region No. 2 and hopefully she will assist us in our work in others regions for the duration of her stay here. The Foundation has made great headway in raising awareness about mental health issues in an effort to bring down the suicide rate in the country.

We continue to use Cognitive behavioral therapy and other approaches to help persons work through difficulties they are facing in their lives. Our skills training programs equipped many persons with viable skills which have allowed them to open small micro enterprises and to turn their lives around.

Guided always by the words of Mother Teresa, “We ourselves feel that what we are doing is just a drop in the ocean. But the ocean would be less because of that missing drop”

We take this opportunity to thank CUSO and we extend a warm welcome to Miss Slate.

 

From left are Mr. Stanley Ming, GF Trustee; Ms. Nafeeza Gafoor of Scotiobank; Mrs. Che Jian Ping, GF Trustee; Ms. Sharon Slate, Volunteer; Ms. Vanessa Thompson, Cuso country manager; and Mr. Eric Phillips, GF Trustee.

From left are Mr. Stanley Ming, GF Trustee; Ms. Nafeeza Gafoor of Scotiobank; Mrs. Che Jian Ping, GF Trustee; Ms. Sharon Slate, Volunteer; Ms. Vanessa Thompson, Cuso country manager; and Mr. Eric Phillips, GF Trustee.

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Guyana Foundation expands its operations

Founder of the Guyana Foundation, Supriya Singh-Bodden, CCH, will travel shortly to the United Kingdom, to establish a presence of the organization there for persons who have expressed an interest in contributing to the work of the Foundation.

The mental health education and counselling programs, the skills training programs, and the community renewal programs have touched thousands of lives in a positive way since the organization was established in 2013. The Foundation will soon open another Sunrise Center in Georgetown.

The Foundation’s work has gained international support from Universities, Scotiabank, other global Foundations, Rotary International. Its work continues.

Supriya Singh-Bodden had this to say when interviewed:

“Guyana needs unity, Guyana needs healing, it is clear that if a road map is not found to sincerely and genuinely create this way forward, our communities will continue to be troubled no matter what any politician says.

We can continue to do our programs, we can do thousands of programs but we cannot fix the deep-seated problems in each community, we cannot lift the general fog that pins people down in poverty making them feel hopeless. We can only do so much.

If you read recently of the mother who stabbed her toddler to death and you were horrified then we have to tell you that there is more of this level of dysfunction in our communities. Our work reveals this every day.

However hard and difficult forging a united Guyana is, it has to be done if we are to really make any headway. No one wants to hear from divided leaders. No side is bringing them hope that all will be well; some feel they are taken care of, some feel they are abandoned, that is the nature of the fractured politics of Guyana. Oil cannot help us. We need to be united.

We say this with great conviction because we have worked in the villages and we have seen firsthand that the people are too needy, too shattered, too poor, too troubled.

Nice words and photo ops showing some small handout we give to them is no longer enough. We will continue our work because if we stop, there would be a terrible void and one less good thing happening in the lives of the POOR people of Guyana. Yes, we have thousands of very poor people whether we want to admit it or not.

Guyana Foundation is saying a united Guyana is the only way to bring healing to our communities. We will continue doing our part.”

Supriya Singh-Bodden, CCH

Supriya Singh-Bodden, CCH

Supriya Singh-Bodden, CCH

Supriya Singh-Bodden, CCH

Guyana Learning and Cultural Immersion Programme: understanding and preventing suicide in Guyana

The Guyana Foundation through its partnership with the William James College recently held a training workshop at the Sunrise Center in Essequibo. The William James College is a leader in educating the next generation of mental health professionals through its Counseling and Psychology graduate and undergraduate programs. The University is located in Newton Massachusetts, USA.

The Guyana Service Learning and Cultural Immersion Program of the university is headed by Guyanese, Dr. Natalie Cort, who is the Assistant Professor at William James College. A  3-days (25th -27th July 2018) empirically supported Suicide Gatekeepers Training was conducted by 6 Psychology and mental health counseling graduate students, Marie Berthonia Antonie, Cydne Branch, April Clayton, Sohenga Depestre, Ariana Slotinick and Damon Pryor.

The training workshop increased the ability of community leaders to effectively respond to, intervene and support suicidal individuals. The workshop, increased participants knowledge on suicide, major depression giving them the guidance to be able to intervene with persons at risk to suicide.

The workshop covered practical and effective problem solving and stress management methods, adapted from interpersonal psychotherapy for depression and music therapy. The workshop, which was highly interactive and fully participatory in nature, included mini-lectures, facilitated discussions, group work and expressive arts activities.

A total of 52 participants were in attendance and included representatives from the Ministry of Health, Social Protection, New Opportunity Corps, Hope For All, Child Care and Protection, members representing the three major religious organizations in Guyana, recruits from the Richard Fickal Police College, volunteers from Caribbean Voice, members of the newly formed Sunrise Support group in Wakenaam, volunteers of the Guyana Foundation and other community leaders.

Participants expressed their gratitude in songs and words of appreciation for being given the opportunity to be a part of the workshop and shared how they would take back the knowledge gained to their organizations and community and even apply to their personal lives.

Participants at the workshop training session

Participants at the workshop training session

A participant expressing his gratitude for the knowledge gained.

A participant expressing his gratitude for the knowledge gained.

Ms. April Clayton, one of the Psychology students of the William James College conducting a training session.

Ms. April Clayton, one of the Psychology students of the William James College conducting a training session.

One of the outdoor sessions of the training workshop.

One of the outdoor sessions of the training workshop.

Kids summer camp 2018

The Guyana Foundation in collaboration with the Ministry of Education Department of Culture, Youth and Sports commenced its Summer Camp at Onderneeming Sand Pit on Monday 9th July 2018.  The camp targeted children between the ages of 6 to 18 years old and engage them in activities such as life skills building, creative expression (art, craft and drama), self-esteem building, sports, among many others. The camp is coordinated by Child Care counsellor, Ms. Madonna Paul and supported by volunteers and staff of the Sunrise Center.

Our second week of the Summer Camp was conducted from 16th July at the Sunrise Center at Zorg-en-Vlygt.

Pictures below shows the summer camp at Onderneeming Sand Pit and the Sunrise Center at Zorg-en-Vlygt.

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Sunrise Center

Sunrise Center

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Successful outreaches conducted by the Guyana Foundation Sunrise Center

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.

Guyana Foundation team heading to Mashabo.

Guyana Foundation team heading to Mashabo.

Sunrise Center Manager, Miriam Hinds speaking to residents of Mashabo.

Sunrise Center Manager, Miriam Hinds speaking to residents of Mashabo.

Some of the residents of Mashabo who attended the meeting.

Some of the residents of Mashabo who attended the meeting.

Some of the volunteers at the meeting at Wakenaam.

Some of the volunteers at the meeting at Wakenaam.

Founder, Supriya Singh-Bodden speaking to resident at the Wakenaam meeting.

Founder, Supriya Singh-Bodden speaking to resident at the Wakenaam meeting.

Supriya congratulating Ms. Constance St. Hill, the head of the community support group at Wakenaam.

Supriya congratulating Ms. Constance St. Hill, the head of the community support group at Wakenaam.

Dreams do become a reality

We all are fed up of Facebook at times but then it allows us to share the success stories from the work we are doing in Guyana; that is when Facebook rocks.

We are working in an area of the world, which many of you have never heard of; Essequibo, in the country of Guyana on the coast of South America, taking its name from the mighty Essequibo River, which is 22 miles wide at its mouth.

We work here because the suicide rate is high; there are many social ills that are out of control, alcohol addiction, lack of economic opportunity, hopelessness among the youth, among others. It is a lush beautiful place with beautiful people but they need help to move forward.

Through our skills transfer courses at our Sunrise Center many persons have been able to uplift their lives. Here is someone you need to meet.

Browne Jacobus graduated in December 2017 and has since been using her skills to generate income for herself and her family. She operates her nail tech, a small business from home and does house calls to clients.

"Prior to receiving the skill, I was unemployed, at home doing nothing. I feel like a better person now that I have found something that I love. I never knew that I could have done this, what a great feeling to be independent. To the Founder of the Guyana Foundation, thank you for using your dream to help me dream bigger than where I was. To the donors, thank you, you must know that your donations have not gone in vain but it has truly made a difference in my life and in the lives of many others, thank you all"

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Another Sunrise Center success story

Since opening our doors, the Sunrise Center has contributed to building the lives of countless individuals. Our counseling and skills transfer programs continue to make a huge difference. Our commitment is to ensure that individuals are equipped with skills to empower them to be self-sufficient so that they can create a better life for themselves and families.

Meet Aileen, a single parent who like many women in Guyana struggles to make ends meet. She operates a small shop in the town of Suddie on the Essequibo Coast. There is little economic activity on the coast so her shop is not doing well and she cannot provide for her family. She heard of the courses offered by the Sunrise Center and enrolled for the Fabric Designing course. Aileen has successfully completed the program and has since started to apply her skills in fabric designing. She creates beautiful tie-dye pieces and decorative dolls and sells them in her shop.

“I was able to learn how to socialize with others and to interact; I never knew that I had all this creative abilities locked off inside of me. I am happy to know that I can create pieces that can make others feel and look beautiful. My encouragement to other women is to stay focus, and don’t be discourage by the hardships of life because despite what you may be going through in life, don’t give up.” Aileen said.

Her dream is to one day expand to a level where she can employ other women and pass on her knowledge particularly to other single parents.

Way to go Aileen. God’s richest blessings for your continued success.

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