The issues of domestic violence, abuse, health and education are among the several issues that are being addressed by Youth Challenge Guyana (YCG) in Lethem, Region Nine, where the Non-Governmental Organisation has been able to set up a Regional Office.
According to the entity’s Director, Dmitri Nicholson, YCG has been making an impact in the city, where it is based, as well as in a number of other areas, but efforts were made to expand the services offered to the hinterland regions.
The most recent office was set up in Lethem with the aim of developing the life skills of young people and to address the needs of women, specifically with regards to matters involving domestic violence and abuse.
Domestic violence over the years has become an increasing social problem in the society, thus the NGO has been working on addressing the problem with a view to reducing its prevalence.
YCG also offers assistance in the areas of education and health, according to Nicholson.
There has been much success in the efforts that have been directed towards the Region, as the NGO has been able to garner support from the Regional Authorities who have helped the cause by providing low cost space for its operation.
Through Programme Coordinator, Richard Rennie, Nicholson said, “We have been able to develop a greater degree of partnership within the communities…and so we can offer the services that they identify as some of the needs.”
The collaboration, according to the Director has seen volunteers venturing into the Region to assist with infrastructural projects, including the construction of community centres and other simple projects.
And in recognition of the fact that there is a shortage of teachers in the region, YCG decided to introduce its volunteer teachers’ programme. YCG has been collaborating with the Ministry of Education to fill the void left by teachers that have either migrated or left the profession altogether.
A recent drive to recruit volunteer teachers, who are likely to be dispatched to the Region, is slated to come to an end this week. According to Nicholson up to a few weeks ago, 60 application forms for volunteer teachers were out, of which 20 persons have applied.
In the area of health, YCG has been offering the communities in the Region information on HIV prevention and offers counselling and testing programmes.
Nicholson pointed out that over the years YCG has built upon the skills of partners such as Regional Democratic Councils and Community/Village Development Councils to mobilise resources, which would improve the efficiency and longevity of programmes that are implemented by the organisation.
He added that private sector agencies such as the Guyana Lottery Company, Toolsie Persaud Limited, Cheddi Jagan International Airport, Denmor Garment Factory, Demerara Distillers Limited have supported a range of youth entrepreneurial ventures and community prevention activities.
YCG’s HIV interventions have been supported by the USAID, Ministry of Health, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the Canadian International Development Agency, UNICEF, PAHO, ILO and other donor organisations. It also partners with private sector companies to ensure that resources are garnered for local initiatives not funded by international donors.
With support from the UNFPA, YCG in the past two years has been able to work with a number of barbershops and salons to provide HIV/AIDS training for the implementation of an adolescent prevention programme. Through this project, a target of 3000 persons was set and enthusiastically surpassed to reach approximately 8000 people by the 42 persons who were trained as a part of the programme.
However, in order for the entity to continue to thrive at its best, Nicholson disclosed that YCG is seeking sustained private sector and donor support to maintain and help support the regional programmes.
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