Georgetown, Guyana – (October 28, 2016) As Guyana prepares to observe Diwali, Minister of Social Cohesion, Ms Amna Alli has urged that Guyanese celebrate the festival as a nation so as to contribute to a more unified country.

The Minister made these comments on Wednesday during her address at a pre-Diwali cultural event hosted by the management and staff of the West Demerara Regional Hospital, Essequibo Islands – West Demerara (Region Three). “Let us celebrate [Diwali] as a nation. Let us celebrate our achievements as a nation. Let us celebrate our diversities… as a people we are different in terms of religion, culture, age, race, ethnicity, geographic location and all those things that give us our own identity. But we are beautifully put together as a people with our diversities,” the Minister said.

She added that Guyana’s multicultural population is such that the religious holidays are observed by all ethnicities, and all people are given a chance to celebrate.

With unity at the helm of the Ministry’s mandate, Minister Alli added that on a larger note, the Ministry of Social Cohesion will seek to ensure that of the 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), it will make a tangible contribution to achieving Goal number One, which is to end poverty in all its forms.

“That is why we have taken the lead with the Bs Initiative. The aim is to ensure that children in Guyana have access to education…It is only when a good education is acquired, that one is placed in a good position to compete on the labour market and enjoy a certain standard of living,” she said.

Goal number 10, which is to reduce inequalities, is also high on the Ministry’s list of priorities the Minister stated. “The vision for Social Cohesion in Guyana is for a unified country, where diversities are embraced, where conflicts are resolved, collaboration with stakeholders are strengthened and decisions made result in equal opportunities and benefits for all,” she said.

On that note, Minister Alli mentioned the Ministry’s ongoing consultations initiative aimed at gathering feedback from stakeholders countrywide on issues affecting social cohesion in various communities. The feedback will contribute to a National Strategic Plan 2017-2021. She noted that among the several consultations held thus far, stakeholders from Region Three were also part of this process during an outreach held in the Region in September. “We want to hear from stakeholders so that issues of concern to Guyanese could be addressed so that we can embrace cohesion,” she said.

Drawing attention back to the significance of Diwali, the Minister said, “let us enjoy this victory of good over evil…let us not allow our differences to divide us…let’s unite so that one day we would see a unified Guyana where our diversities are embraced and conflicts are resolved, and we can truly celebrate as Guyanese: One people, One nation and One destiny,” the Minister said.

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