Scientific explorers from UK to visit Wai Wai community

Stabroek News
September 21, 2000

A 15-person expedition led by Colonel John Blashford-Snell of the Scientific Exploration Society (SES) in the United Kingdom will visit the Wai Wai community at Gunn's Strip from October 12-31.

The Guyana Government, including the Ministry of Amerindian Affairs, and the Captain of the Wai Wais, Touchau Paul Chekema have given their approval for the expedition, a press release from the Office of the Elections Commisssion said Tuesday.

Chairman of the Elections Commission, Major General (rtd) Joe Singh is the SES local member and his association with Colonel Blashford-Snell goes back to the 1960s.

According to the release, these expeditions to the Wai Wai community commenced in 1996 and allow the Amerindian group and expedition members to benefit from each other's expertise while ensuring that the cultural and intellectual property rights of the indigenous people are respected.

The Wai Wais have benefited from medical assistance on previous expeditions, including the evacuation by expedition-chartered aircraft of a three-year-old Wai Wai who had fractured his femur and was suffering life-threatening internal bleeding.

The Wai Wais also received sewing machines, spectacles, tools, needles, cottons, scissors and tools from the expedition in exchange for samples of basketwork, seed necklaces and ornamental headdresses, the release stated. Meanwhile, the marketing of the unique handicraft items produced by the indigenous group is being followed up, the release noted.

More recently, the Wai Wais received a donation of a No. 51 Stihl chainsaw from the SES, with accessories donated by the local company, Farfan and Mendes.

Earlier this year, the Wai Wai community was severely hit by flooding and had to be relocated from Gunn's Strip to higher terrain.

Follow the goings-on in Guyana
in Guyana Today