Food for the Poor, an international organization committed to serving the poor, has honoured the name of God through its good works. It has blessed the poor through its charitable outreach.
Food for the Poor has become the leading charity in Guyana since its establishment here 24 years ago in 1991. Its services span persons of every race and religion. Its goods reach the poor in every corner of our country. It is a household word. There must be very few Guyanese whose lives have not been touched, either directly or indirectly, by Food for the Poor.
I applaud the incredible, industrial scale assistance that Food for the Poor has rendered to the poor and needy. I marvel at its capacity to solicit and receive such extraordinary quantities of food, medicines and equipment for distribution to the poor. Is there any activity in which it is not is involved? It is in agriculture; boats; cassava mills; clinics; community centres; computers; housing; livestock; sanitation; sawmills; sewing machines and water projects.
Food for the Poor has helped countless persons in our country. It has built thousands of homes for poor families. It has helped those who help the poor. It has helped organizations, sporting clubs and community organizations. It has helped public institutions.
My government is committed to the objective of eradicating extreme poverty from our country within the next five years. It is a bold and ambitious goal but it is necessary duty if human dignity is to be respected and if this country is to be developed. We cannot speak of a society that upholds human dignity when so many of our brothers and sisters subsist on an income that in insufficient to provide for their basic daily meals. Respect for human dignity requires a level of concern, a level of commitment and a call to action in eradicating poverty in our society.
Food for the Poor has gone beyond providing hand-outs. It has helped to empower individuals. It has assisted persons to earn their incomes by providing equipment to help people to help themselves. It has also been engaged in income-generating projects in communities, helping groups of persons with their economic enterprises. Food for the Poor, in these ways, has weaned many off of dependency and elevated their lives from poverty to self-sufficiency.
Food for the Poor has been a God-send. It has allowed hundreds of Guyanese to escape the clutches of poverty. It has offered comfort and relief to thousands of our country men and country women. Without the assistance provided by Food for the Poor, destitution would have been widespread.
The task of eradicating poverty from our country must now be approached with greater zeal.
We are all deeply saddened and pained today by the indifference that is often shown towards the poor. People do not all chose to be poor. A large number of Guyanese are consigned to a life of deprivation either because of the structures of society which inhibit opportunities or because of unfortunate circumstances of birth, what we call ‘hereditary poverty’. Many poor people are, themselves, children of poor people. The chances are that, if the cycle is not broken, their children, also, will be sentenced to poverty.
The poor are not lazy or worthless. The poor has no less dignity than the rich. They are therefore worthy of opportunities to improve their circumstances and station in life. Food for the Poor attempts to break the iron cycle of poverty by opening windows of opportunity…giving people a ‘hand up’ instead of a ‘handout.’
Providing these opportunities cannot be remit of governments alone. It is the responsibility of all. Intermediate organizations such as the Food for the Poor are playing its part in alleviating poverty. Communities must begin to play their part in assisting its members to escape from the vortex of poverty. Corporate Guyana must recognize its special responsibility to assist those in need. Individual citizens must lend a helping hand.
Food for the Poor needs support. I appeal to all of you, and especially to corporate Guyana, to support the organisation’s work. This organization, after all, is a vehicle to help others not a profiteering corporation. With sufficient support, its work can be even more impactful in alleviating poverty in our country.
Food for the Poor has achieved a high level of operational efficiency. An extremely high percentage of the assistance it receives goes directly to the poor. The organization, however, needs to ensure that its administrative expenses are covered. This is why its fundraising activities are important. I urge all Guyanese to support these activities and to give generously to support the work for Food for the Poor.
We want prosperity for Guyana. We want a happy population. We assure you, government will play its part. I visited the organisation’s premises in Ruimveldt. The organization has outgrown that facility. There is a need for a new and bigger location since its work has expanded over the last 24 years.
Food for the Poor has been pillar of support for Guyana, particularly for the downtrodden and less fortunate. I particularly wish to salute the efforts of its Chairman, Mr. Paul Chan-A-Sue; its General Manager, Mr. Kent Vincent; its hardworking staff and its talented board of directors. It seems to be that Guyana’s poverty rate would have been much higher were it not for Food for the Poor’s efforts.
I would like express my appreciation for the outstanding charitable work undertaken by this organization. On behalf of the countless persons that have benefited from the kindness and generosity of Food for the Poor, I pledge three facilities on behalf of the Government of Guyana:
We will provide 2 hectares of land, free of cost, for the construction of larger premises for the organisation.
We will make available duty-free concessions on vehicles imported to be used for its charitable and developmental projects by the organisation.
We will, from FY 2016, provide a fixed annual financial subvention to supplement the organisation’s work.
Mother Theresa once said, “We ourselves feel that what we are doing is just a drop in the ocean. But the ocean would be less because of that missing drop.”
However little you can give, I urge that you give. Give your drop to fill that ocean of need. Drop by drop; child by child; household by household; neighbourhood by neighbourhood; region by region, let us work together with this worthy organisation to provide a good life for all Guyanese.
I thank you.