Today, Bevon Currie’s earthly remains will be interred at Buxton, East Coast Demerara. Death never fails to make us review what life is all about; how precious it is and sometimes how undervalued too, by some. How fragile is this life we live when we are here today and gone tomorrow.
Death is the great equaliser for there is no regard for age, colour, class, creed, social status or material wealth. Death surely will visit every one of us sometime. We know no knowledge when or how, for it is a circumstance that very few of us have or can take control of.
I am no preacher, but I learned from the believers, the faithful – to be absent in the body is to be present with the Lord. I am comforted that our brother, our friend, our comrade was faithful in his belief, and therefore we know where his resting place is.
To me, Bevon was a dear friend, of an age that he could have been my son. We shared many moments of deep conversation discussing his favourite topics, Guyana’s future, our political circumstances, and how we could contribute to the common good. His conversations and enlightenment will be missed dearly, as I take time to get accustomed to the fact that he is no more present in the body.
As I mull the circumstances of his death it would be remiss of me, an abrogation of my responsibility, and a failure of our friendship not to speak of the circumstances that he faced being diagnosed with cancer and not having the immediate means within reach to access the care he needed to give him a better chance of surviving, or at least lasting longer.
I know of his struggle to get help to access the care he needed that was not available here. I know of his struggle to get to Cuba only to be told they could not help him. And of his struggle to get to the USA and being told of his prognosis, though there were interventions to see if his case would have been one that beat the odds.
I reflect on these circumstances with deep pain and sadness, but energised to say exactly what Bevon would have said or wanted me to say. It is not acceptable, or good enough that our working class is unable to access quality health care in 21st century Guyana. It is unacceptable that only the rich, the powerful, and the well-connected can jump on a plane with ease and fly to any country of their choice for ‘belly wok’ and other life-sustaining treatment, whereas those without the wherewithal must struggle, sometimes reduced to public begging for life-saving interventions.
For some there is the National Insurance Scheme (NIS) overseas medical care benefit, which is a reimbursement. Even though helpful, this still requires an ability to access upfront money for medical treatment and other associated costs. Bevon died under circumstances that gave him little chance of survival and help to access funding for early intervention. He was deprived of a fighting chance.
The management and distribution of our national funds is a political responsibility that each government has a mandate for. So today as I celebrate my friend’s life, I call on this government, I call on every one to recognise that health care is not a privilege for some. It is a RIGHT that each citizen is entitled to. I call on everyone to recognise that the experience of Bevon’s could be yours, or that of your child or loved one equally.
None deserve to have his/her health and life treated with less value. In today’s world there is talk about health care justice. We are far from health care justice in this nation when there is such disparity in accessing affordable care for all.
Bevon wanted to live and it wasn’t just about living for himself. It was living to make a difference in the lives of all Guyanese regardless of race, class or political affiliation. That is how he lived his life, believing in the common good. Had he survived this battle he would no doubt have become an advocate for improved and state wide healthcare access for all.
He would have wanted to see a reduction of any discriminatory practices, any inequality, indifference, lack of concern, neglect existing, as hindrances to quality care. As there is celebration of his life, we can best give value to his memory by advocating in his name for health care justice for all. To his party comrades, take this message that we the people of Guyana cannot all afford overseas treatment to save our lives and that of our loved ones; we need fair access to life-saving care.
Bevon had so much to offer. We spoke often during his illness, the last being three days before his demise. That conversation was about his determination to return home for a miracle to his illness, jobs for the youth in Linden, East and West Coast Demerara. There was no inkling it would have been our last, for his spirit was high and he was filled with optimism.
There are countless stories to be told about this comrade’s people-centredness and vision. I recall us driving and if someone shouted at him, he would ask that I stop, got out of the car, listened to the person’s problem/concern, and would stay in contact with the person until the issue was resolved. Persons coming from outlying areas to Georgetown in search of work, if they got in touch with Bevon, he would go the distance to make it possible and if needed, assisting to finding accommodation.
We are reassured that this fighter did not go down without a struggle and death would have had a very hard time. Bevon lives in the countless memories shared with those whose lives he touched or came into contact with. To his family and loved ones I say be at peace, your brother’s soul is in good hands. He lived a good life and is now an enrichment to the other side, probably looking for Desmond Hoyte, who he loved and admired.
Lots of political discussion to be had there, as to the state of Guyana, and governance. Rest in Peace, my friend.
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