(13th November, 2015) H.E Brigadier David Granger: Thank you Mr. Edward Boyer, the Chairman of the Advisory Board of the Salvation Army in Guyana. Your Excellency Mr. Gregory Quinn (G.Q), High Commissioner of the United Kingdom, Major Emmerson Cumberbatch, Divisional Commander, and all the other Majors here; I see Major Cumberbatch, Major Augusto, Major Thibou, Major Brown.
Thank you for your warm welcome.
Major General Norman McLean, Head of the Private Sector Commission, and other Members of the Private Sector Commission; other Divisional Commanders, Members of the Salvation Army, Members of the Media, Salvationists, Guyanese, Ladies, and gentlemen.
I am very happy to be here, as Mr. Boyer said, despite a long flight, and I hope that our efforts here today will be rewarding. The Salvation Army has a unique place in western society. Founded over a century and a half ago; it has always been engaged in a war – a war against poverty – and to my knowledge and recollection, no one has ever criticized or fought against the Salvation Army, perhaps they know they can’t win.
We have always been happy to be associated with the Salvation Army here in Guyana for over a hundred and twenty years. It has been one of the pillars of society in our country and we are very happy today that they are doing such important work in drug rehabilitation, in addition to their charitable work.
So I would like to take this opportunity, not only to usher in the campaign, but also to record the gratitude of the nation to the work that the Salvation Army has been doing for over a hundred and twenty years in our country.
Congratulations and thank you.
You see clapping loosens the fingers, so we come to that part. We are here at the start of the festive season and most important for those of us who are Christians, we recall the miraculous birth of Christ who came in very humble circumstances and began a religion which of course changed the course of human history.
One of the most outstanding aspects of Christmas itself; it’s not just the miraculous nature of Christ’s birth, but also that he came as a child and for that reason I believe many families throughout the western world regard Christmas as a festival for children and of children. We would like to feel that the launch of the campaign today is also recognition of the centrality of children in our lives.
They are the future and if you don’t look after children, of course, we would jeopardize our own future and of course, the theme of the event this morning is about Sharing and Caring; well it is also about charity, and we have to learn to give because in giving we get ourselves. In giving we ensure that we create a climate in our country; a climate in which we learn to respect each other and love and share with each other. So today is a special function not only for children, but also for caring.
This campaign that’s being launched today, I hope, will make millions of dollars. I’ve brought a small – what I would call a widow’s mite – but I am encouraged by the front row where the magnates, the captains of industry are seated. So I’d be very disappointed if, Major, you don’t leave here as a millionaire.
The Salvation Army is renowned in the western world for its war against poverty and in Guyana; poverty is one of our greatest challenges. We do believe that if Guyana is to move forward we have to reduce inequality and I am convinced, knowing the Guyanese people, although we are a very small population, that if there were fewer people; if we remove those inequalities, more people will graduate into the middle-class, more people will be able to go to school, more people will be able to enjoy that good life that we have promised them.
So I regard your efforts today not only as an aspect of Christian charity, but also as an economic venture to reduce and remove inequalities so that more people would be able to gain education, more people would be able to participate more fully in the economy and thereby enjoy that good life.
So in my brief remarks, I would like to ask each person here to give generously because it will come back to you. I’m heartened by that ‘yes’. It will come back to you in fewer children who are homeless, fewer families who are in distress, fewer citizens who are poor and can’t afford to send their children to school and fewer families who aren’t able to share that good life.
I do believe that events like this, although they are focused on one day of the year; that is Christmas, 25th of December, which is exactly six weeks away – today is Friday the 13th, so those of you who are superstitious don’t venture far, but give, stay here and just give till it hurts – but six weeks from now we’ll be celebrating that miraculous birth of Christ and over that period continue to visit the old folk’s homes, continue to help those in need, visit the hospitals, continue to assist children to participate in that good life with toys, with food and continue to share the blessings of the Salvation Army; that they have shared with humanity for the last hundred and fifty years.
Today we are happy to be here, Major, Eddie. And I am happy to be able to, on behalf of the government, give a small donation. Remember, the journey of a million dollars starts with a hundred thousand. That’s it, a hundred thousand.