By Gary Eleazar
Junior Chamber International (JCI) is an organisation that not many Guyanese are familiar with.
But it’s been active in Guyana for the past 45 years assisting young people in several communities.
JCI Guyana is a part of a larger global network and the President International of the JCI West Indies Brenda Albert is currently in Guyana assessing the work of the local chapter.
In an exclusive interview with this newspaper Albert explained the organsisation and its work over the past century since its establishment in 1910 originally as a male dance company but has evolved over the years changing names and mission.
She explained that the organisation is a network of young leaders across the globe that tries to create positive change.
“We do a lot of training projects in communities to help to nurture young peoples.”
She explained that one of her duties as President of JCI West Indies is to provide training, advice and guidance to the members of the local organizations in her constituency namely this region.
Albert explained that the group has programmes all across the West Indies, including some that are geared to encourage youths to get into business.
JCI West Indies has several ongoing programs such as debates and elocution to enhance the abilities of young people.
She spoke also of a cancer awareness program that the organization had successfully run off as well as literary program which she says is in line with the United Nation’s Millennium Development Goals.
She also spoke of the “nothing but nets program” where the organization procures and supplies mosquito nets which they provided to children in South Africa to help to assist with the fight against malaria.
Albert explained that the organization is a Non Governmental Organisation and given that they focus so much on entrepreneurship they try to limit themselves from sponsors and rather try to raise funds though their own ventures as well as dues paid by members.
“The International organizations try to encourage us not to get sponsors….we go into communities and do community projects and a lot of fund raisers.”
She said that among the greatest achievement that she feels the organisation has been able to make over the last 50 years that it has been in the training of young persons who have managed to empower themselves.
“Most of the great young men and women in the region will tell you that I am who I am because of JCI.”
She said that the Antiguan Prime Minister where JCI West Indies is based is a member as well as their Attorney General among several other prominent business persons are JCI members.
She said that the organisation offers unique business and life skills training for young people most of which cannot be found in Universities.
According to Albert, each year the JCI West Indies is responsible for the training of several hundred youths across the region given that each branch would conduct a training session.
She said that the organization has suffered from the lack of publicity and in 2006 they decided that they would embark on corporate branding and has since then been trying to publicise what they are doing.
President of the Local Chapter of JCI Nasoya Chapman said that while the organization is relatively small in Guyana it has been in existence locally for 44 years and has achieved a lot over the years and they have a rigid work program ahead.
Chapman told this publication that they have hosted numerous seminars and training sessions over years and community projects.
She also spoke of a similar “nothing but nets” program where they will seek to provide the mosquito nets to areas such as Mahdia or some other hinterland communities where malaria is a problem.
She lamented the fact that the greatest bugbear to the organization is funding but they try through dues and fund raisers and are looking to collaborate with other organizations.
Chapman said that they have met with persons at the Ministry of Culture, Youth and Sports and they have promised to help to supply some of the nets that will be used.
The local JCI President said that they have met with Head of State Bharrat Jagdeo some years ago who had promised some assistance but this is yet to be a reality but she said that they are still optimistic that he will make good on his promise.
JCI is a membership-based nonprofit organization of 200,000 young people ages 18 to 40 in 5,000 communities and more than 100 countries around the world.
“Each JCI Member shares the belief that in order to create lasting positive change, we must improve ourselves and the world around us…We seek targeted solutions to the unique problems in our communities to build a better world, creating global impact”.
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