Protective programme continuing for women, children at risk
Guyana Chronicle
April 1, 2002

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ST FRANCIS Xavier Youth Club, at Port Mourant, Corentyne, Berbice, launched the year two programme for ‘Women and Children at Risk’ in its Library Hall last Monday.

The continuing initiative aims to provide alternative social support services for persons in six Corentyne communities.

At the mid-morning ceremony, Club President Alex Foster recalled that the larger scheme, started in December 2000, is jointly funded by Building Community Capacity Project (BCCP) and United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF).

The objective is to advocate social and economic concerns in Region Six (East Berbice/Corentyne) with a view to supporting community responsibilities, upliftment and equal rights, he said.

Foster revealed that $6.9M was spent in the first year, retaining a lawyer and a social worker who pay monthly visits to six community centres across the Region at Black Bush Polder, Alness, Liverpool, Port Mourant and Fyrish.

According to him, 215 more persons have had the benefit of sessions on peer counselling and parent and community workshops.

Foster said baseline data was gathered, highlighting prevalent social issues, inclusive of alternative discipline for students, child labour and incest.

He also announced that the West Indies Cricket team made a commitment to adopt orphanages in the Region, following the adoption of Canaan Full Gospel Children’s Home by Captain Carl Hooper, who has since provided the institution with modern appliances.

Foster said the $3.8M expenditure in this second year is to also collaborate with Kids First and make sure that terminally ill children in the Region can access medical treatment abroad.

Another aim is to form a national organisation, so that children at risk can have a common voice and, working through Adult Education Association (AEA) and BCCP, guarantee effective networking and skills training.

Director of Kids First, First Lady Varshnie Jagdeo reviewed the voluntary undertaking from February 2000, pointing out that the main goal is funding medical expenses for underprivileged children.

She said that is in addition to making regional links so the affected can be easily recognised.

Mrs Jagdeo expressed concern over the legal system, which she said can be improved through consultation, as victims of abuse might have moved on with their lives by the time the cases are heard in Court.

She said such delays in the process unveil the reality of pain and shame which are best forgotten.

UNICEF Representative, Ms Lakshmi Guraraja said the launching was a symbol of partnership and mobilisation at a time for behavioural change.

While men should be made a part of the solution, children must be allowed to speak freely so, when violated, they can express thoughts without fear, she maintained.

Deputy Commander of Berbice Police Division, Senior Superintendent Malvin Glasgow, who acknowledged an increase in social ills, urged the gathering to see the Force as a friend and not as an enemy of the society.

He stressed that women and children should be serious when reporting cases of abuse, so the Police can deal with offenders effectively.

Among other speakers were Executive Director of Guyana Responsible Parenthood Association, Mr Frederick Cox, UNICEF Programme Coordinator, Ms Violet Speek and BCCP Country Director, Ms Ann Marie Chagon.

Chairing the Monday proceedings was Project Coordinator, Ms Jennifer Amerally.