Mar 25, 2013 News
“We were treated as aliens in the countries that deported us here, and now we are in the country of our birth and we are further alienated. We are still being treated as aliens, and it is hard- we have to go that extra mile just to be accepted!”
This is the lament of Paul Nurse, an ‘involuntary re-migrant’ (deportee) who currently resides at Wisroc, but has a property at Victory Valley, Wismar, where he is very active in community developmental activities.
Nurse was sent back to Guyana three years ago after spending time in a New York penitentiary for conspiracy charges. He had spent almost 30 years of his life in the US. His departure from the US meant separation from his relatives there, including his eighteen children.
But Nurse is a survivor and has the founded the Guyanese Association for Involuntary Remigrants (GAFIR), which is an organization that was established to assist deportees to reintegrate into society.
According to Nurse, there are about one hundred deportees in Linden alone, and some of them have returned as recent as two months ago.
Nurse noted that the greatest challenge facing deportees is the stigma associated with their status, and the general negative perception of locals, who often attribute anything bad happening in a community, to them.
“For anything bad that happens in the community, fingers are pointed to the remigrant. Now I’m not saying that a few of them don’t get involved in negative activities, but this is not true for everybody.
“Many of us still try to live as decent law abiding citizens, but the negativity can sometimes get to you. It’s like we were aliens in the countries we were deported from, and when we come here we are still aliens, in the country of our birth.”
But despite the negativity, Nurse is determined to make something of his life, and in the process assist those in a similar position like him.
His mission, however, is not just about assisting deportees, as many persons could attest to.
Presently operating a variety business off the One Mile main road, Nurse has employed a number of persons over the few years that he has been back here.
But his greatest challenge is garnering enough money to launch into business in a big way, which would afford him the opportunity of employing even more people.
” Now, I’m a person that always thinks big and want to do things on a large scale- for instance back in the United States, I had my own night club and car dealership. I’m accustomed to doing business at the corporate level, but here it’s hard even getting started.
You know I would often sit here and look at all the vehicles coming out of the interior, knowing that all of that money is just passing through this town, when we ought to be looking at ways to capitalize on these things.
Right now I’m looking to do business on a twenty four hour basis, to cater to these people who make these long commute, and would require certain basic things”.
Poultry rearing and cooking!
Nurse is the holder of an associate degree in the culinary arts, and loves to cook. One of his very first business ventures was rearing and selling chickens, and of course barbequing them.
But he realized that he was not ‘even ready’ when he travelled to Mahdia to take some orders.
“The quantity of chicken these people wanted on a weekly basis, I was barely producing in a month- so it clearly showed that I had to plug more money into the business.”
Nurse said that when he came back to Guyana he was given some money, which he used to establish himself in business, and subsequently employed a number of persons.
He noted that most of them were single parents, and so were in dire need of some kind of financial support.
But today his main focus is no longer just on money-making projects, but rather more community oriented. He often takes time away from his business to assist in some community project or other, and to sit with his fellow deportees and talk.
Nurse said that deportees face huge challenges, including a lack of housing and unemployment opportunities.
Added to that, he noted, is the fact that they are sometimes taken advantage of, and he cited the case of one of his colleagues who had entered the country with a bullet in his head and a US$5000 treasury cheque, which he never saw again after presenting it to customs.
“That money was supposed to be support for him from the US, as he was shot by the federal government, and as such was entitled to continued support from them. He had felt that presenting the cheque to customs was the right thing to do, as they were the authority, and would probably mail the cheque to him. I mean in the US these kinds of things don’t happen like that, or go unaccounted for.
He made several attempts to try to retrieve it, but all were futile, I guess the cheque was cashed and mis-appropriated.”
Nurse is suggesting that some type of halfway home be established here for deportees, who often come back and have no home, and most times lack adequate resources to acquire their own lodgings.
Many of them would have left all their relatives in the US and other countries, so there is no one here that they could depend on.
With no jobs they are ‘hard put’ to pay a rent.
He is also advocating for a process whereby deportees could acquire lands that they could cultivate, and so contribute to the agricultural development of the country, in a community where there is a dearth of jobs.
AUBREY NORTON FRIGHTEN RENEGOTIATION AND RING-FENCING
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