…Committee members call for the release of funds from Norway
Chairperson of the NTC, Toshao Yvonne Pearson has described the five-day National Toshao Committee (NTC) conference this year as a successful venture.
She said that the entire committee is looking forward to having the commitments that were pledged to the Amerindians, fulfilled as soon as possible.
Her comments came at a press conference yesterday in the Ministry of Amerindian Affairs conference room.
“The conference was very good, a successful meeting. We look forward to commitments made to our people and are hoping also that the release of funds be expedited very soon. From now to next conference there should be lots of improvement with more to talk about in 2012’s meeting”
Vice-Chairman of the NTC, Toshao Michael Maxwell of Annai, explained that the conference was successful for most persons, even if it did not satisfy everyone present.
“There was success to a certain extent but I am a bit saddened that for two days the President was at a meeting. He had other issues. But we were all given time to express views to satisfaction. We are looking forward to implementation, how things will be taken from here,” said Maxwell.
He stated that as members of the executive committee, it was in everyone’s interest to seek answers to their questions, and to have the promises made to their villages, fulfilled.
“We’re looking for answers. As vice-chair I am looking to see answers. It would have been a little better also if the President had spent more days with us. Some ministers answered our questions with delays”.
The other Toshaos agreed that the issues highlighted at the conference will require a certain amount of time in order to see more results and that any international gathering there will not be 100 percent satisfaction by all in attendance.
“At any international conference there isn’t 100 percent satisfaction since people come from different parts with different situations. But we are happy that there is a major percentage of outcome, commitment wise” said one of the Toshaos.”
Toshao Herman Williams, Secretary of the NTC, added that the committee was extremely pleased that everyone was given the opportunity to express views and issues, and make recommendations and requests, even though there were some disagreements as at any forum.
Most of the Toshaos acknowledged that there has been a “major step in Amerindian development across Guyana”. At the recently concluded conference there were 176 Toshaos who were allowed to air their voices and make requests for the further development of their villages, he said.
“I am very happy to return to my village of Mabaruma, our issue was addressed, about transportation for emergency cases in our sub-region. I am proud to say we are taking back that vehicle with us and I made request for heavy duty equipment to upgrade the roads there and am glad to get 75 percent of what was requested,” said Ernest Samuels, Toshao of Region One.
Pearson refuted claims of some Toshaos who publicly stated that they did not get to speak about their areas at the conference.
She explained that though some were not able to raise their issues vocally due to the large number of Toshaos, they were requested to write their requests and concerns on paper and submit it.
She also stated that the NTC is not a Non-Governmental Organization. Members had to start building capacity and empower themselves.
“You have to creep before you walk and of course the NTC would like to be independent. We are working towards being independent but it won’t happen overnight. Try to advise us, try to help us, the only support we get so far in financial budget is from the Ministry of Amerindian Affairs through Government.
“We are not tools of Government; we have always been speaking in the best interest of people. Someone owes us an apology to say that. Someone should apologize to us”.
Kaieteur News was further told that the funds coming from Norway will assist greatly in funding projects for the Amerindian communities.
“We are truly looking forward for the release of funds from Norway. It has been a really long time, almost one year now, and we would like to know what is happening,” added Pearson. (Kristen Macklingam)
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