Friday 7th March, 2008

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Guyana the beautiful

  • Guyana is beautiful, rich, and full of po-tential.
  • The people are hospitable and friendly and the landscape gorgeous.
  • And there are people interested in de-veloping Guyana at the same time as they are preserving the environment.

I back in the saddle, or rather the airplane seat, travelling the Caribbean for work again. This time I reach Guyana for the first time.

Since I small I hearing about Guyana and how things hard there, it worse than a Soviet gulag, how Burnham spoil up the place and all kind of thing. But the Guyana I see wasn’t a place that nobody spoil. It beautiful, it rich, and it full of potential.

When I say rich, I don’t mean in dollars, eh. The jokes about how the place ent have toilet paper might not be so funny when you in a Berbice stelling (a dock) and sitting down wishing you could wipe. I stay in a five star hotel there and we wanted strawberries and had was to settle for caimet (star apple if you from Guyana). If you stay in Georgetown you go see hustlers and a set of old house, the wood looking frail and the paint flaking off so they looking every minute of their hundred years.

But leave the city. Out in the Interior you could see that the crack-up paint and potholes in the road is not the real Guyana.

I is a romantic. I could look inside a hurricane and see a beautiful thing, even when the world swirling and going up in circles around my head. So maybe I looking at Guyana and how she have gold, diamonds, timber, fisheries, agriculture and bauxite and figure that just because she have so much natural resources she in a special position. I look at the Guyanese people, all so hospitable and friendly to me, and the landscape so gorgeous, and think, “Why this place ent have more tourist? People should be lining up to come here.”

Anybody you ask in Guyana go tell you the same thing: rich in resources, poor in management. Guyana governments somehow can’t seem to figure out how to take all that she have and make it work for she.

Graft and corruption also playing a part, no doubt, like in so many Caribbean countries. Like we can’t see to look up from we own wallet and see the bigger picture, how we greediness and selfishness hurting the people around we even though we pocket getting fat.

And, like everywhere you go in the Carib-bean, it have development that don’t take into account the needs of the people who there, or the conservation of the environment and the natural resources.

Thank God it have people who interested in developing Guyana at the same time as they preserving the environment.

I was in Guyana to shoot a video about Annette Arjoon, the secretary of the Guyana Marine Turtle Conservation Society (GMTCS). Annette win the Anthony N Sabga Caribbean Awards for Excellence 2008 for Public and Civic Contributions. The awards is a project of the ANSA McAL Foundation, a charitable organisation chaired by Dr Anthony Sabga. I working for the awards secretariat as the communications manager.

We does show a video on the winners during the awards ceremony, so that is what I was in Guyana to do: shoot a video about Annette Arjoon and the other Guyanese winner, Prof David Dabydeen.

Me and the video crew spend three-and-a-half days with Annette, going in the Interior in a part of the country name Region One, up by the Venezuelan border. We went with Annette to a town name Mabaruma, then up the Waini River to the Atlantic coast. The GMTCS working to tag and protect turtles on Shell Beach there.

Annette also helping the Amerindian people in the area to make and market their native products under the brand name North West Organics. It have cocoa sticks—creole chocolate—from Mabaruma, crabwood oil and soap from Waini River, and cassava bread and cassareep from other villages in the same region.

She not there to exploit them, take their products and vanish in a puff of smoke like some other organisation might of done. She helping all these communities develop their own production centres, standardise the products, increase efficiencies of production and even distribution. For example, she help this area in the Waini River name Three Brothers to develop a natural resources development and conservation plan. Apparently the plan so sick that government looking at it as a model for other areas.

Annette is a Guyanese sheself. She have that muddy brown water of the Demerara in she veins, and she have a hopefulness as buoyant as a Amerindian cork canoe. She love the place and I for one can’t wait to see what she going to accomplish in the future.

Is people like she who this Anthony Sabga Awards looking for. Annette sharing she award with a lady from Jamaica, Claudette Richardson Pious, who running a NGO name Children First. They taking children off the streets and giving HIV/Aids education to young people all over the island.

In Barbados they give the award for Science and Technology to James Husbands, who doing solar water heaters for the past 33 years. Dabydeen, the other Guyanese winner, write must be 20-something books, plus he help a set of other writers get their work publish too.

Is quality people win the awards, and they doing important work. The Anthony Sabga Awards is a way to encourage and push them even higher heights.

If every country had 20 Annette Arjoons, you could imagine what this Caribbean would of be like?

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