Sep 30, 2012 News Comments Off on A Plaisance girl…Beryl Haynes is a woman of distinction
“For those who lack the will to change or to challenge the limitations placed upon themselves and others, we need to support and encourage them to transform their lives for the better in whatever way we can.”
By Rabindra Rooplall
She has received numerous awards and worked relentlessly to ensure that Plaisance, a community on the East Coast of Demerara, does not fade into obscurity.
Her achievements, too many to count, may be blamed on her teachers who constantly goaded her. Or it may have been largely in part of the fact of who Beryl “Bobby” Adams-Haynes is.
A teacher for 26 years, she was born in 1944 in her beloved village of Plaisance to George and Ursula Pereira. She was the eighth of 12 children.
She was an ordinary “country girl” and married to Dennis Haynes with the union producing three children- Ian, Kim and Fay. She also has seven grandchildren.
Haynes attended Plaisance Methodist School where she completed her primary education under the stewardship of Headmaster F.A Cruickshank. She then went on to Chatham High School in the city where she successfully gained the College of Preceptors Examination Certificate.
In 1964, Haynes migrated to the United Kingdom as a student, first training as a nurse but she later switched career branching off into the field of education.
She attended the University of London, studying education and qualifying herself in social sciences.
While in the UK, she lectured in Food and Nutrition, Health Education and Child Development before entering the secondary school system.
According to Haynes, she was one of the first black teachers in the UK. She would later become a special education specialist and counselor. During her teaching career she sat over several committees and served for four years as a liaison person with the longstanding West Indies League in London.
She was also the coordinator of the Marsha Phoenix Trust in the UK- a trust which in 1992 brought the first Information Technology project to St. Stanislaus, Guyana under a high school exchange programme. She was director for special needs support centre along with three other foreign teachers. This project lasted one year. This was under the Caribbean Teachers’ Exchange programme funded by the London Education Authority.
After 32 years in the UK, Haynes had had enough and decided to return to her homeland. Her story really began then. On her return, she immediately aligned herself to the village embarking on a series of community activities aimed at improving the lives of the residents there.
She founded the Plaisance Dorcas Club.
In 2002, an arm of the Dorcas Club Youth Group was awarded the Commonwealth Youth Service Award for its continued provision of services to the community, and its commitment to the HIV/AIDS programme.
Haynes’ engaging personality and commitment to reaching out to the community came to fore when she was nominated in 2003 for “The Women of Distinction Award” for outstanding community service.
In 2006, she was honoured by the Plaisance/Sparendaam Emancipation Committee for her sterling contributions in the field of community development and service. She is also liaison person in the village for the overseas-based villagers of Plaisance.
According to the educator, she has helped to raise funds for the Plaisance Methodist School and also donated educational materials and sports equipment.
Along with three villagers, Haynes adopted three schools in Plaisance, and has been supplying educational materials for years.
Haynes finds time from her busy schedule to write poems and is also a musician in her spare time. She has also produced a Caribbean cook book for schools in the UK in 1980s and the proceeds went to natural disaster victims in Dominica and St Lucia.
Learning that Plaisance was bought by freed slaves, she helped spark an initiative for the first Emancipation celebrations in the village in 2000.
“Today Emancipation celebrations are looked forward to with great anticipation and pride,” the woman said.
One of her biggest projects, possible the most significant one, to date was her research, compilation and chronicling of events, people, dates and contributions made by ethnic groups to the development of the twin village of Plaisance/Sparendaam.
On June 16th, 2010, a publication- “Plaisance from Emancipation to Independence and Beyond” was launched. The proceeds from the sale of the book will go towards the renovation of ‘The Plaisance/Sparendaam Friendly Society Building’ which will accommodate a cultural venue.
She had some messages to the youths of Guyana – they should equip themselves with the necessary skills to make them marketable. “They must seize every opportunity that comes their way, stay focused. For those who lack the will to change or to challenge the limitations placed upon themselves and others, we need to support and encourage them to transform their lives for the better in whatever way we can.”
Haynes has a few ideas. “My vision for the community is to create avenues to empower our youth by providing training and job opportunities, to see a more family focused community, to build neighbourhood organisations, so that we can use resources in the community to enhance the lives of the villagers…”
Haynes is very health conscious and ensures she lives a fit and healthy lifestyle.
“My greatest stresses are the aimless wandering of some of our youth with no direction as to where they are going; the lack of training and employment opportunities…”
Haynes also has a dislike for the abuse of women and some of the music frequently played in this era.
She wants to keep on publishing more books, master the art of playing the guitar, travel some more and visit Africa to trace her ancestry.
Her defining moment in life was when she left the shores of Guyana for the United Kingdom. “The opportunities that were available and the advice and support of persons who were willing to guide me towards achieving my goals have made me who I am today.”
Reflecting on the hardest part of her teaching career and addressing various issues, Haynes said it was in the UK. “During my years as a teacher in the UK the hardest thing for me was to come to terms with the excessive waste of materials both by the students and teachers, this prompted me to start collecting materials and send to my Alma Mater in Plaisance which assisted in educating others.”
Noting that communication comes easy after being a teacher for a prolonged period, she admitted that teaching came with some embarrassing moments.
“…two of my male students (English) had a fight over me …both apparently had a crush on me.”
She also implemented her own teaching style in Guyana working individually with students in the community.
Underscoring misconception that people often have, Mrs. Haynes said some persons are of the opinion that she is wealthy, because she lived overseas.
She said one of the things in life that she would have done if she wasn’t afraid was to climb Mount Roraima.
Reflecting with a smile on her best compliment, Haynes said persons would often say she looks younger than her age.
She has teamed up with internationally recognized Guyanese singer, Eddie Grant, to open a library in Plaisance earlier this year.
Her hobbies include writing, singing, listening to music, reading and swimming… whenever she gets the opportunity.
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