President David Granger: Thank you, please be seated. Thank you for the kind introduction and I would like to thank you personally for your remarks, Mrs. Seepersaud. I thank the children, who welcomed me along the roadway. Thank you all for coming away early from school this afternoon; I know you would prefer to be in school. [Laughter]
Madam Chairperson, Ms. Hercules; Minster of Social Cohesion, Ms. Amna Ally; Member of Parliament for the Pomeroon-Supenaam Region, Mr. [Hemraj] Rajkumar; Regional Executive Officer, Mr. [Rupert] Hopkinson; citizens; Mr. Alfro Aphonso, Mr. Kamal Singh, Professor Suresh Narine, officials of the Pomeroon-Supenaam Region, students from here, Charity, from Martindale, members of the media, residents of Region Number Two: I am back in Charity and as long as you all keep getting boats, I will keep coming back. [Applause.] So if you want to see me again all you have to say is, ‘come, we got another boat’. [Laughter.]
But I am happy to be here, I know the sun is warm and I would just like to make some very brief comments. First of all to thank CGX and Professor Suresh Narine for this gift, it is no longer a singular, unique gift. We want to ensure that children everywhere in Guyana can get to school. In Pomeroon, the highway is the river so if you want to get your children to school you have to get river boats – so thank you very much Professor Narine.
It follows of course, on the gift by Mr. Kamal Singh and Mr. Alfro Alphonso and I am sure it is a pacesetter and I’m sure there will be more and more boats until every single child in the Pomeroon could find a place on a boat.
I want to mention three things briefly:
First of all is our country; beautiful country, beautiful people, but this very Region Two, this very Pomeroon-Supenaam is claimed by other people. You all live here, your grandfather live here, you grow up here, you know it is ours, but still people intend for 50 years to claim this territory, this same Region Two, five regions they claim. Can you imagine Mexico claiming 25 states of the United States of America? Well the Venezuelans are claiming five of Guyana’s ten regions.
You think I could put you all under Maduro to live? No way. No compromise. This is ours and we have to continue to make sure this country is well developed, that you all are well educated so that Guyana remains ours; not only what we got from our fore parents but what we will pass on to our grandchildren. So this is our job and your job is to inherit what we shall bequeath to you that is why we are so concerned about you.
So this threat that the Venezuelans are posing is not something we must dismiss because in 1966, the same year we became independent, they jumped and seized Ankoko and up to now they still holding on to Ankoko. So they have some politicians who want to give them more, they get enough.
In 1899, the Tribunal gave Venezuela 13,000 km², an area bigger than Jamaica. They already got… is greedy they greedy, they want more. Well not a cuirass. Not one! Not one cuirass! So children, this is yours to inherit. Big people, this is yours to protect. All Guyanese, we must stand up for Guyana and ensure that what we inherited is the same thing we pass down.
The second thing I want to mention is charity. Charity begins at home right? Home begins at Charity too you know. I have come here and I love this community, but you know I want Charity to become a ‘green’ town. [Applause.]
All this Styrofoam and plastic y’all got here, bad news. This is an important part of the Pomeroon-Supenaam Region. It is a hub, it is a commercial centre. A lot of the smuggling in this region takes place through Charity… I’m not interested in smuggling; I’m interested in legitimate trade. I want Charity to become an important commercial hub, so that children from the Pomeroon, upper and lower Pomeroon, children from the coast could look forward to establishing legitimate businesses. We already export important commodities through Charity. I want Charity to grow and develop; exporting not only coconut oil but also exporting coconut water, all the ground provisions coming out of the river. [Applause.]
I want you all to embark on agro-processing instead of bringing out cassava, plantain, eddo and sweet potato, start exporting cassava chips, start exporting plantain chips, don’t worry the Barbadians would eat everything you all produce.
Now, on the 3rd of October – it was called National Tree Day – and the first Saturday every October will be National Tree Day… I was at Bartica not because I grow up there, but because I want Bartica to become one of the centres, it is called the gateway to the hinterland. And we worked out that there are 15,000 residents of Bartica; if five people live in one household, you have how many households? If you have 15,000 people and you have five people in one household, how many households?
We calculated that if every household in Bartica had one breadfruit tree, Bartica alone could produce a million pounds of breadfruit every year. So that is the importance of National Tree Day that is the importance of trees. That is the importance of the Pomeroon. You all have the best coconut water in the entire Western Hemisphere, you all know that? I got a friend – I think I tell you this story already – he went to live in Georgetown, but he carried a Pomeroon coconut tree to plant, he don’t trust Georgetown coconut tree.
The point is my brothers and sisters, boys and girls, the Pomeroon is a potential food bowl and anything you produce, could be exported to the Caribbean. So I want you to ensure that this Charity becomes a commercial hub, buying produce from the river and selling produce to the Caribbean.
The third thing I would like to mention is the most important thing. I am here because of you children. I know Professor Narine has made a contribution by getting triplets. I don’t know, he is the CGX, he is a Professor, he doing all these things and he still has time to make triplets. [Laughter.] We need more ‘Professor Narines’ producing more and more Guyanese children. It is important for you to pay attention to what he said and what Mr. Hopkinson said because we are here to ensure that you get access to education.
My wife and I were here last Christmas, as you know we come Christmastime and we are at a certain community along this river and my wife gave a child a book and the child held the book, she was 12 [years old] and she said, “Miss, I can’t read”. I am here because of her. I am here because another person whom I see here (I don’t want to call names), told me he was spending about $5,000 a week to get his [daughter] from Grant to Charity Secondary School. It is unconscionable and that good man, I think, temporarily had to leave his farm to go and hustle one, one pennyweight in the gold field.
The point is when I make these decisions it is not because I’m politicking or I want to be popular; it is because people living in these communities, in Akawini and Friendship and Wakapau, they tell me things and I listen to them and I go back and try to use your vote to work for you. So this boat that you have here today was inspired by the residents of the Pomeroon. And… ceremonies like this will take place in the Berbice River, in the Mazaruni River, Essequibo River and elsewhere, but the idea came from the Pomeroon. [Applause.]
We believe that every child deserves a place in school. I don’t want to run into anymore 12-year-old girls who say, “Miss, I can’t read”. I do believe in the marrow of my bones, as Professor Narine says, “If every Guyanese child got access to education, we will be able to solve many of the developmental and economic problems facing this country”.
Just give the child access; get that child in school, get that child behind a computer, get that child in the world of books, get that child passing examinations and we will not have so many social and economic problems in this country. That is what I want to see. I can’t live forever. I want to make sure that the country you inherit is one that can guarantee a good life for all citizens and if we are all educated, we could all become ‘Professor Narines’ and get triplets.
So ladies and gentlemen, my brothers and sisters, children of the Pomeroon-Supenaam Region, we all met today at a very important ceremony; a ceremony that is celebrating education; it is celebrating the joy of being children, the importance of getting our children in school. We cannot take, (look at these people at the head table, all of them over 18 years of age) we cannot take this country, this region where we are going; we have to hand it over to you and if you are educated you will be more capable of taking control of this country because one day you will be at the head-table.
One day you will be talking about passing this beautiful region, this beautiful country on to your children. So thank you for coming out in your numbers. Thank you for participating in this important ceremony; particularly, we must thank CGX and Professor Narine for taking the initiative. We want to make sure that the Pomeroon-Supenaam Region is one of the most productive and one and the most bountiful regions in Guyana.
Can we do it?
Audience: Yes, we can! [Applause.]
May God bless you Charity!
May God bless you Pomeroon-Supenaam!
I will be here the next time I get a boat, thank you Charity.

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