For her son On Father's Day Frankly Speaking
By A.A. Fenty
Stabroek News
June 18, 2004

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Far be it for me to get too mushy - or mawkish - as the American-inspired "Father's Day" approaches on Sunday.

So what's with my captioned topic and sub-title? Ho-hum. Just another attempt to be escapist. So side-step the current steamier debates; the usual stressful or contentious "issues".

Now be seduced by, then contemplative of, my two real-life-like anecdotes meant to illustrate mothers' love when fathers leave - the agony of the Guyanese "single-parent" syndrome, symptomatic of our society's moral decline (you might be familiar with both.)

Just out of secondary school, Sandy dated Ivor. One thing, inevitably led to the other. At seventeen, she gave birth to a "bouncing baby boy." Almost concomitantly, he, at twenty-three, received his "papers" from his parents in Maryland and was off to the land of opportunity. Of course, he promised her, that being in the states, he would better provide for her and for their son. The first hundred-dollar bill did promise much after Ivor's first six weeks in America. To Sandy's agony, one fifty-dollar note after, nothing was received from him again. No letter, no card, no telephone call, no remittance. The relationship died as their son grew.

With pressures of all sorts in Georgetown, Sandy became a statistic: another single parent at seventeen; another jilted, abandoned, under-educated, unemployed young woman ripe for exploitation. With a touch of ridicule from her detractors, she tried valiantly at first to raise her son, attend "classes", do a part-time job at the salon. But socio-economic circumstances in Guyana were unfriendly. Young Sandy buckled morally as her indifferent parents gave up too. One relationship led to another. Unlucky in love, her life was virtually wrecked, her future gloomy. She now hovers between a disease and a so-called pastor of one of the scores of new "churches" around town.

The second tale is of Audrey who, older at thirty-four (double Sandy's age), opted out of an abusive common-law relationship with her contractor "child-father". She took her twelve-year-old son to her aunt in the countryside and tried her best to be "independent". Audrey fought a good fight of survival - being a seamstress by day and a taxi dispatcher by night. But Orin, her son, suffered from lack of strong parental guidance. He became a petty criminal in his East Coast village to the eternal shame of his hard-working mom. She goes to church, he goes to court.

As the moral fibre of the society is softened, diluted and rendered ineffectual - with little support from broken homes and cosmetic religious groups and "churches", both of these ladies fall victim to a cruel, uncaring environment. The sad fact which hurt both mothers most though, is that their respective sons have turned out "bad".

They both recall the compromises they had to make for their sons; the exploitation of their minds, souls and bodies they endured just so that their sons - as young boys - could eat and attend school. Now, it all seems so useless. The boys seem so ungrateful, so unmindful of their mothers' sacrifices and shame. But who is really to blame? The moms? The sons? The society? What about the fathers!?

On Father's Day
Though I'm no real supporter of these special once-a-year days, I'll compromise and suggest that the following be done on Sunday - That's the day designated to pay tribute to real fathers.

On Father's Day let us ponder the responsibilities and other roles of a true father. Just think, observe: who are fathers these days. Who taught and prepared any under-thirty father for his role? Where can the young learn parenting in Guyana? In my time, even though there might not have been formal classes for the art of parenting, there were strong extended families with more role-models, more morally upright community leaders - and more genuine gospel based preachers and churches to guide human behaviour.

So, on "Father's Day" Sunday, as we honour and thank the real responsible fathers left, let some authority plan for the rescue and teaching of the errant, absent fathers who merely deposited sperm to help create more life. Let us try to help them to appreciate that they are more than studs, cows or rabbits. Happy Father's Day. Where is your father right now? Why is he there?

The cash in trash!

I promised to feature, in this column, from time to time, issues and elements related to a Public Awareness Project on solid waste management now being implemented in Lodge and Regent Street in the capital, Georgetown. Solid waste? Management?

I grew knowing rubbish, the rubbish-cart man and the always feared sanitary inspectors of the fifties to seventies. I grew seeing ladies sweeping Water Street and men forever cleaning every drain in Georgetown. As I grew older, rubbish become refuse, then garbage; and in the US they told me it was trash. Poor me; a few months ago, I learnt about all that becoming now solid waste.

As we play catch-up with other, more orderly and regulated societies, the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) is funding an Education/Awareness Project, being executed by an advertising agency (Guyenterprise), which is dedicated to changing radically the attitudes towards the identification, treatment and disposal of all types of waste. It is no mere clean-up campaign. Using the communities of Lodge and Regent Street, the project will emphasise the practice of cleanliness and the establishment and maintenance of a sustained healthy environment.

Curriculum strategists, teachers, parents, house-holders, business-people, municipal workers, the judiciary, the media, all citizens at all levels are being targeted - for their views, their grouses, their support. It is to be a comprehensive long-lasting programme that must be replicated throughout a not-so-clean city. Next time, I'll outline some other details. Just now, I'll merely hint at the cash that could be generated from trash.

Join, start a small solid waste collection company. Acquire an appropriate vehicle. Learn about a proper sanitary engineered landfill. There are various jobs associated with landfills. Approach the city council. The project will encourage separation of garbage. Your plastics, glass, styrofoam, cardboard and paper, your rubber can soon fetch you money! Or food! Much more, from time to time.

1) At one solid waste seminar this week Georgetown's MCC Chief Public Health Officer, Mr. Balkarran quoted George Bernard Shaw: If you and I exchange one apple it remains one apple. If however, we share ideas it is so more useful.

2) Please, please CGX/ONE, find oil in the Corentyne. Black gold to join brown gold as Guysuco expands? The result for us?

3) AP Correspondents Karl Ross and Bert Wilkinson report that death squad informant George Bacchus - described as "a dairy farmer and businessman" - saw an Al Qaeda terrorist in a cambio in Georgetown. Wow!

4) The organisers of the Rule-of-Law, Anti-Gajraj marches have done a marvellous job keeping away alleged PPP thugs from disrupting their protests. Great job Desmond.

5) A witty - or concerned - mother has already ordered her husband's Father's Day gift - thirty two (32) Viagra tablets!

`Til next week!