Our City Environment

By Fr Malcolm Rodrigues
Guyana Chronicle
June 7, 1999


I LIVE in Georgetown, and so a great part of my day in spent in the City environment along with thousands of my fellow Guyanese. I must confess that the environment is, to say the least, dehumanising.

First of all, almost every street is strewn with litter in various stages of decay and composition. The grass verges are invariably unkempt and the drainage ditches along the roads are filled with rubbish, or have become home to various wild shrubs.

It's common practice while walking along to have a mini-bus pull up a few yards in front of one, and either the driver or a male passenger alights and urinates against the nearest post or against the said mini-bus. No one seems to be affected by such behaviour, and sadly, the physical environment seems to dictate our social and moral behaviour and attitudes.

Something must be done to reverse this unacceptable situation in which we live. The Camp Street 2000 Project is an excellent attempt by a group of citizens to try to create in the middle of this mess, an oasis of humanity and sanity. Clearly, when it is completed the avenue will be a place where one can walk and talk and even sit and feel a sense of ease, rather than a sense of threat and dirt as at present. We need to expand this sort of initiative and involvement of our citizens at various levels; for example, I feel that every school should adopt its immediate surroundings - grass verges, ditches, paths - and an effort be made to keep them clean and tidy as ultimately this would be conducive to a better school ambience.

I am not advocating that we dispense with the Mayor and City Council but rather that we play our part in a constructive way so that they can manage the other sectors more efficiently. There is no doubt that there is a close relationship between our social environment and our physical environment; if our social environment is one of vulgarity and baseness, then can we be surprised that our physical environment also reflects such degradation in terms of garbage being thrown about, properties defaced, and generally the whole environment treated as if, somehow, it is not part of ourselves?

We have a saying, "Show me your friends and I will tell you who you are." I appreciate that poverty can lead one to degrade the environment, but I have seen poor homes with well-kept yards, some flowering plants, and above the absence of litter lying around. Many times you will find that these same poor people live at peace with their neighbours, and lead normal healthy lives while struggling to improve their own lot.

I would like to advocate that as this is the last Environmental Month before we close the century, that we make a Millennium Resolution to keep our own small environment clean and tidy, both at our homes and in our work or school situations, and that we strive to ensure that our social environment is one that enhances our humanity rather than degrades it.

Remember "wan wan duttie, build dam". The effort will, in the long run, be worth it.


A page from:
Guyana: Land of Six Peoples