The Japanese government has handed over US$69,739 to the Waramadong Village Council to finance the construction of the Waramadong Indigenous Youth Skills Development Centre through the Grant Assistance for Grassroots Human Security Projects.
Receiving the grant on behalf of the community on Wednesday at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs was Chairman of the village council, Clyde Henry. He expressed satisfaction that an initiative aimed at grassroots people has come to his village.
Henry said that it has been the desire of his community to place greater emphasis on vocational training for indigenous youths. “Our young people, like other youths, need to feel they are part of this country’s development process. They can only do so if the resources are provided to them.”
He said that the Waramadong Village Council learnt of the Japanese grassroots programme through the Principal of Special Needs for Life, Inc., Mark Adams, who has collaborated with the government of Japan through its embassy in Trinidad and Tobago to bring support to indigenous communities in Guyana.
According to Henry, for seven years his village council has advocated for the necessity of a skills development centre for young people who leave the primary and secondary education system.
Recognizing the difficulty the government experiences when allocating resources to all communities, Henry said that his village is quite appreciative of the efforts made by non-governmental organisations such as Special Needs Inc. in garnering funds to finance development in areas where it is needed.
He said that when the training centre is completed and commissioned it will allow for the Waramadong Primary and Secondary schools to have a facility for a large number of their live-in students to receive training in skills needed in Waramadong and other villages in the Upper-Cuyuni region.
“Skills such as boat building and outboard engine repairs, forestry, carpentry, artistry and wood-work products; importantly, it will allow us in that entire catchment area to redirect our young women away from the troublesome issues involving trafficking in persons by empowering them with a life and personal development skills and attitude.”
According to Japanese Ambassador Mitsuhiko Okada, the funds will be spent over the next 12 months. He said that the centre will serve to develop the capacity of the youth population in the community to reach their full potential. The ambassador added that the centre will cater for over 650 youths over the next four years. He said that youths will also be trained in small business management.
During his remarks at the signing ceremony, Mark Adams said that he believes interventions such as Japan’s facilitate the true meaning of development, which is needed for indigenous communities. He said that assistance at the grassroots level have a greater impact than when foreign governments would offer help through government agencies.
He said that Japan is leading the way in this regard, specifically for the Cuyuni Mazaruni district.
“In the Upper Cuyuni Mazaruni area, as far as I know, over the last 20 years, there has not been another foreign government intervention at the grassroots level.”
Representing the Ministry of Indigenous Affairs was advisor to the Minister of Indigenous Peoples, Mervyn Williams. He stressed that self-determination is the most critical factor when considering development of indigenous people.
“It is the indigenous peoples who must determine what it is they require. It is they who must clear the pathway to accomplishing what it is they believe is required for the development of their villages.”
He said that beyond this, the grassroots project will leave a physical structure that can continue to serve not just Upper Mazaruni, but all of Guyana essentially, when it comes to skills training.
Williams believes that the facility will be one which will enhance the Hinterland Employment and Youth Services programme, as well as complement the Bina Hill Institute of Learning.
In a previous article, this publication reported that the Bina Hill institute played an integral role in the expansion of the Rupununi Essence brand whereby it developed the Morning Glory Brand of breakfast cereals and nutrition bars, the Pakaraima Flavours brand of Sundried Tomato salad dressings, the Taste of Hiowa Marmalades and several other products.
In 2017, the North Rupununi District Development Board (NRDDB) is expected to build a modern processing facility at Bina Hill to improve production. Ten students from the institute will intern at the Institute of Applied Science and Technology to learn how to manufacture the products, perform the important quality control tests and learn about the business model and marketing.
Last Sunday, the NRDDB had received over $1M in profits from the sale of Rupununi Essence Luxury Facial Cleansers since the launch of the product in June 2016.
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