H.E David Granger: Thank you for allowing me to worship in your church, in your parish and for permitting me to say a few words to the congregation. That said I would like to extend our congratulations to all of the mothers and the hopeful mothers on this special day. Motherhood is one of the most important aspects of our society and it is something that deserves respect; respect by young men, respect by husbands and fathers and respect by the girls themselves – they must respect themselves. And it is an institution that we must preserve at all costs because if motherhood is damaged in any way that damage will be visible in our children for generations to come.
So today is not just a Christian festival, it is a celebration of the very institution which keeps society stable and secure. As I’ve said before, I’m sure you might have heard me some years ago I was living and being educated in Nigeria and there was a very popular song at that time and it went like this: ‘you can always get another brother, you can always get another sister but you can never get another mother’ and it just points to the uniqueness of motherhood.
In this community and in many other communities in the near hinterland and in the deeper hinterland and even on the coastland, we sometimes see that there is very little respect for motherhood and the church must play a part in ensuring that young men allow the young women to complete their education before forcing them into premature motherhood.
I have been in the hospital, I have been in the maternity wards and I am seeing some young mothers from the hinterland; their bodies are not ready for childbearing. Their bodies [are] just not ready. They’re too weak, they are too frail and they are too young and the babies themselves, you can see, are sometimes born with defects. A woman’s body is not ready to produce children until she is 21 or 22 and you mothers must be careful to ensure that your daughters are not forced into premature motherhood because their bodies are not ready, and you mothers must ensure that your sons understand that too.
It is not a matter of going [into] the gold-fields and getting a few pennyweights believing that you could be a father or you could run a household. Families are not built by pennyweights, families are built by love and respect and this is what we learn in places like St. John the Baptist. So as I wish you a happy Mother’s Day, I also wish that we’d be more careful with the circumstances under which future generations are brought into this world.
The second thing I would like to mention, as you know Canon David should be very careful when he gives a politician an opportunity to speak to a congregation because as a politician my remarks are normally brief, so this is a normal presentation because I’m being brief. The second thing I would like to remind you of, what I said yesterday, those of you who didn’t get an opportunity to hear me then that this church, this community, this mission was established 185 years ago.
This mission Bartica was conceived as a mission to do God’s work and St John the Baptist is probably one of the oldest Anglican churches in the entire country. So you, the members of this congregation, have a duty to continue the work that was done, that was established that was founded 185 years ago and make sure that the light of St. John the Baptist is never dimmed in Bartica.
In the beginning it was St. John the Baptist, even before the Portuguese came, before the Chinese came, before the East Indians came, before Africans were emancipated, there was St. John the Baptist. So go ye out into the field and bring more people into this congregation so they can share in the glorious tradition of St John the Baptist. This year particularly, in another fortnight’s time we will be celebrating the 50th Anniversary of Independence and I hope that this church would have a special service for independence; would have a special way of celebrating our coming of age as a nation, just as yesterday we all celebrated Bartica’s coming of the age as a town; something which I felt was long overdue, it is nothing I made up, nothing I invented yesterday. If you have heard me for the last five years, every time I came here I said, ‘Bartica must be a town’ and it happened yesterday.
So in celebrating independence, celebrate Bartica’s township and let us work towards not only supporting the new mayor, deputy mayor and municipality but making Bartica a genuinely green town. Plant trees all over this parish, all over the premises here, through your avenues, through your streets, around your playgrounds; plant trees. I hope that by the time I come here next year – I will come before next year, but I am giving you a year to make sure that this entire building is illuminated by renewable electricity; no generators, no gasoline, no dieseline, no kerosene, just solar energy and I will work with the parish; I will work with Canon David to make sure that is a reality before next Mother’s Day.
But let’s celebrate (you can raise some money with a barbecue too you know; I see you clapping) so let us celebrate Bartica becoming a town but at the same time, St. John just as it led the way 185 years ago, it will lead the way to show what the mandirs and the masjids and the other offices and building in this town could be; all green, all powered by renewable energy. Every stove, every refrigerator, every air conditioning unit, every lamp, every computer can be powered by renewable energy and St John the Baptist as you led the way 185 years ago, must lead the way for generations to come.
But more particularly even though we celebrate Mother’s Day, we have to celebrate the future; the future generation, that is the children and Bartica seems to be particularly capable of producing large numbers of children, maybe when we have solar lights and there is less darkness maybe there will not be so many children but while the children keep coming, we must take care of them because they are our future.
When I was here last, I had a very brief meeting in the vestry and Canon David is aware of the commitments on my part and I am aware of the commitments on his part, but last week, as you know, over 14,000 children wrote our National Grade Six Assessment. And, on a previous occasion in March you know that I came to this very community and I presented several bicycles to ensure children go to school. I presented a bus to ensure that children got to school and yesterday I was in River’s View presenting a boat to ensure children got to school.
Every child must go to school, not only in Bartica but also the riverine areas and the entire Cuyuni-Mazaruni Region, every child must go to school and as an incentive to parents to ensure their children get to school and to children to know that we, in the municipality, in the regions and in the central government support education, this day, Mother’s Day 2016, I will present $100,000 to the parish of St John the Baptist to enable successful graduates of the National Grade Six Assessment to get bursaries to go to school for the next academic year.
Can you give me an Amen? Thank you and this is just a token, Canon David knows very well that there is more to come but this is what we call ‘seed money’ which you plant so that the tree could grow. So this is left up to the vestry to decide what criteria will be applied to those students who have passed the National Grade Six Assessment to enable them to enjoy the next academic year 2016-2017 and when we complete other arrangements with the parish, we will make long-term arrangements to make sure that the children and parents of this parish; of this congregation, particularly those who are prepared to help themselves and in addition to those who for other reasons, reason of poverty, cannot help themselves, will get an opportunity to go to school.
So on behalf of the Ministry of the Presidency, of the Government of the Cooperative Republic of Guyana, I would like to present this small token to St. John the Baptist for the purpose of children’s education. May God bless you all!