By Enid Joaquin
The sod was turned for the establishment of a community Centre and ‘safe haven’ at Amelia’s Ward, Linden yesterday. The facility, which is already being built, is under construction via New Horizons 2019.
New Horizons is an annual U.S. Southern Command training and humanitarian exercise that is led by the Twelfth Air Force (Air Forces Southern) in various countries in Latin America and the Caribbean. Guyana previously hosted successful New Horizons exercises in 2004 and 2009.
Among those in attendance yesterday were Minister of Communities, Amna Ally, US Ambassador Sarah-Ann Lynch, Lin
den Mayor Waneka Arrindell and other Regional stakeholders and members of New Horizons.
Minister Ally in brief remarks, told the gathering, “Today, the people of Linden and the Government of Guyana have much to celebrate and be thankful for, because soon we will not have one, but two community centres….and for the first time, a women’s home in Linden.
This sod-turning ceremony represents the first act of greater things to come!”
The Minister added that the initiative would not have been possible without the support of the US Government, through the New Horizons Project.
She detailed that the agreement between the United States Security Cooperation Office, the Guyana Defence Force (GDF), the Ministries of Communities and Public Health of Guyana, and New Horizons, has resulted in positive outcomes for the people of Linden, and said that she looked forward to future partnerships.
The Minister expressed confidence that the community centre, would provide a safe space, for residents to meet and interact with each other… ‘transferring learning and teachings.’
Pointing out that a home should be a safe place, and while many people have that security, the Minister acknowledged that unfortunately and tragically, in some cases, many women and children in Guyana don’t have that safe place. She lamented that domestic violence, continues to be a challenge, and has a serious impact on many women. This, she posited, can impede the socioeconomic development of not only communities, but the nation as a whole.
“However, this women’s home will be a refuge and safe haven for our women, that will provide secure accommodation for women and girls who are at risk, or have been subjected to violence.”
She nonetheless pointed out that the facility would contribute far more than just a safe place to stay.
Ally stressed that essential aspects of protection services and resources would be provided, so that those that would have suffered abuse, could recover and rebuild their self-esteem and Independence.
Encouraging women to leave abusive relationships, the Minister said that ending violence against women needs “multi-pronged approaches and collaborations, at different levels.
The Minister related further, that Government remains committed to end violence against women, and will continue to work and invest resources, to ensure that shelters are available, in all the regions across Guyana.
She thanked the United States Government, for their continued support and collaboration.
Linden Mayor Waneka Arrindell, whose initiative it was to establish such facilities, pointed out,
“It’s a privilege today, to be a part of this life changing experience. The introduction of the course, first and foremost of a women’s home in Linden, is something that we will always remember, because we do know that this will bring the type of relief that we need, not only to Linden, but to Regional Ten as a whole. And women here can be assured, that we will create an environment that will allow for them to be protected from whatever ills that they are going through.”
The Mayor added that the roles of community centres cannot be overstated, as they continue to be the spaces that allow for life-changing experiences of our youths, children and the general populace.
She admonished all, to care for the facility, and to utilize the services that would be provided.
She expressed optimism that skills training would be provided, especially for youths.
US Ambassador Sarah-Ann Lynch, said that she was “truly elated’ to be a part of such a remarkable occasion. She expressed “sincere gratitude’ to the Commander of the New Horizons expedition and Task Force, Colonel Kenneth Bravo, for the superb work that he and his troops have already completed, and also for the other needed projects and community outreaches, that would be undertaken over the next few months.”
The Ambassador noted that the New Horizons Exercise is nothing new to Guyana, as it is the third such initiative to be executed in the country.
Ambassador Lynch said that this speaks volumes about the United States commitment to build and sustain enduring relationships with partner nations.
“It’s a commitment that does not wane, because we know that by sharing our values, our challenges and our responsibilities, we forge partnerships that improve the Region’s overall stability. Our partners’ success is indeed our success!”
Commander of the US Forces in Guyana, Brigadier Colonel Kenneth Bretland said that the New Horizons will bring over five hundred airmen, soldiers, sailors and Marines into Guyana, between February and September of this year.
Bretland said that the primary purpose is to train US Forces, on how to plan and conduct community assistance missions, in different and challenging conditions. He said that to ensure that their conditions were challenging, the first thing that was done here, was to build a base camp to house the New Horizon team. This was done in February and completed in May, he said. He added that, to date, the team has conducted seven interventions across fifteen locations in Guyana.
The first was at the Port Mourant Hospital and the second would be today (Friday) at the Linden Hospital Complex.
New Horizons, the U.S. Southern Command’s annual training exercise, covers three months, and will train U.S. military civil engineers and medical professionals, who will work alongside Guyanese military and health professionals in joint humanitarian assistance exercises.
New Horizons personnel and their local counterparts will work at various locations in and around Linden, Port Mourant, New Amsterdam and Georgetown, to construct three community centres and one women’s shelter.
U.S. military doctors will also be present to provide medical care to Guyanese citizens during the exercise, including ophthalmologic care and surgery. This New Horizons exercise will conclude in August.
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