November 8, 2003
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On Monday, the Albouystown New Hope Community Project (ANHCP) [ please note: link provided by LOSP web site ] commissioned its training complex in the Castello Housing Scheme. Using the occasion to showcase new hope, community leaders congratulated 24 young men, who had just taken a step towards self-sufficiency, and presented them with certificates for completing ten-week courses in joinery or masonry.
The project is aptly named, though one would hope that it is intended to be, or eventually becomes a programme, which would extend its continuity. Projects are usually executed over the short term.
That hope exists among our youth is evident in their representation in the University of Guyana student population. But it is not universal and many, particularly in urban and rural depressed areas, live aimless and seemingly hopeless lives. These are the youths that are most at risk to falling prey to recruiting drug lords or becoming users themselves. It is also from this batch that society mainly reaps its crop of malcontents.
Therefore, when a project such as the current one in South Georgetown lights so many candles it is reason for celebration. Community leader Randolph Thorne, Project Patron Philomena Sahoye-Shury, the Presidentís Youth Choice Initiative, the British High Commissionerís Office and all other contributors, especially the youths who have responded and are still to respond, deserve high commendation.
These new joiners and masons will further prove their mettle when they manage to secure (singly or jointly) entrepreneurial loans or employment in relevant fields. The project, too, could benefit from using these young hopefuls as role models.
Plans to train young women, in particular single parents, in cosmetology, sewing and home economics and to include information technology in the curriculum in the near future were also unveiled. While the fruition of these plans could certainly provide more cause for celebration, the New Hope project, if it really wants to live up to its name, should look beyond offering traditional skills training.
New Hope has recognised that the target community has many single-parent young women and has included them in its mandate. There will also be a significant number of delinquent fathers. And in addition to skills training, these young women, and the men, may also benefit from classes in life skills such as parenting, sexual and reproductive health, etiquette and rudimentary English and Mathematics. It is possible that their needs may even exceed the areas mentioned, depending on their goals and dreams, which they must be encouraged to articulate. Giving youth new hope ought to include urging them to develop life plans and work towards them.
Joinery, masonry, cosmetology, sewing and cooking are among the conventional skills, and though they are still relevant, cognisance must be taken of how many of each of these skilled people a community can accommodate. This is not only applicable to the New Hope project, but to any skills training programme, which still stereotypes youth. Women joiners and masons are no longer synonymous with the fat lady at the circus. Young girls should be afforded the option of training for a career in one of these or from among other previously male dominated skills and vice versa.
Communication between those who provide and those who are provided for is a must if projects are to succeed. The New Hope project should seek to go beyond merely recording success. Once it is correctly used, it can be the tool that erases the false perceptions about inner city youth which can dog their entire lives and add to their frustration.