President David Granger: Minister of Social Protection Amna Ally; Member of the National Assembly, John Adams; Regional Executive Officer; residents of Parika-Salem; boys and girls.
I am very happy to be here this afternoon to be with you. I know some of you are busy writing or have just written your National Grade Six. I wish you luck although it is too late for luck. As my mother used to tell me, “The time to repent is before the event.” So I really hope that you do well and you continue to represent the best education standards of Region Three.
Now, I am here this afternoon to help to celebrate the festival of Easter and also to bring joy to the boys and girls of Region Three. As you know, for Christians the season of Lent lasts for 40 days and 40 nights, just as our Muslims in Guyana have the season or the month of Ramadan, and Ramadan ends with the glorious celebration of Eid.
Similarly, the Christians spend 40 days and 40 nights re-enacting the agony and the suffering and the sacrifice of Jesus and at the end of it there is joy, the celebration of Easter and as the student said in her poem, “The resurrection of Jesus”, it is the most joyful event in the Christian calendar; but in Guyana Easter is not just for Christians; it is also for Muslims, it is also for Hindus because in Guyana every Easter children in all parts of the country, whether in Parika or Paramakatoi, love to fly kites. Children of all ethnicities, whether they are African, Amerindian, East Indian, Portuguese, or Chinese, they love to fly kites and if you go to Antigua on Easter day, if you go to Barbados, if you go to Belize, you will see Guyanese flying kites. So I am not here on a Christian mission, I am here on a national mission because kite flying is something that boys and girls like to do and I am here to celebrate kite flying today along with you.
Now, in Guyana we believe in equality. Every African, every Indian, every Amerindian, every Chinese or Portuguese boy or girl must be treated as equal but in order to achieve that equality we must first have equal access to education and we have a saying in our government “every child in school”. We believe that every child should have the opportunity to go to school. That is why today each and every one of you has an exercise book. You have an exercise book? Let me see, wave it let’s see. Very good! How much you pay? Free exercise books and you have a pen as well. Thank you.
The reason we gave you these exercise books and these pens is to help your education. Your education is very important. That is why I’m meeting you in a school and that is why we provided buses, bicycles and boats to children all over Guyana to help them to get to school and that is why I started by wishing you well in your National Grade Six Examinations.
So these exercise books are meant to help with your school notes but these are special exercise books. These exercise books have 20 pictures on the cover, 20 pictures, and each picture represents a ‘giant’ of Guyana. There is the giant anaconda, the largest snake in the whole world. There is the Arapaima, the largest freshwater fish in the whole world. There is the anteater, the largest anteater in the whole world. So all 20 of those animals are the largest in the world and you, the children of Guyana, the boys and girls of Guyana, must inherit, must look after, must love those animals because those are our animals and it is wrong for any generation to kill them out and leave you with nothing.
So it’s a special exercise book that we give to you so that you can learn to cherish our inheritance; cherish our legacy; cherish what God has given us. He didn’t give those animals to Hindus alone, or to Muslims alone. He gave them to all of us and we must look after them but we know the Amerindian people in our country have a saying that the trees hold up the sky and if you cut down the trees the sky will fall. Well those animals depend on the trees; that is why we call Guyana a ‘green state’ because we are trying to protect and preserve our environment, particularly our trees, and on the first Saturday of every October we have what we call National Tree Day when you plant trees all over Guyana and help to hold up the sky.
So boys and girls, this is my message to you. You are blessed with a beautiful and bountiful country. We feel that there is no need for any unemployment. I know that here in Parika, I know that in other parts of Region Three, I was already in Leguan, I was already in Wakenaam, I was spending a lot of time in Region Three, but there is no need for any of you to be unemployed when you leave school.
I was here a few months ago and I encouraged people in the backdam to grow more ground provisions – cassava, yam, eddo, plantains – so that we can serve these ground provisions in our restaurants; instead of using foreign white potatoes, we can use our own sweet potatoes. So there is a bright future ahead of you boys and girls and through agro-processing every single item that you produce- every sweet potato, every cassava – would be processed into sweet potato chips and cassava chips and in this way you get employment because you would be able to employ yourself.
So I bring you a message of hope not only for Easter but also for education, also for the environment and also for your employment. Here in Region Three, in the Essequibo Islands, that is the West Demerara, you can generate electricity. The watch that I am wearing is powered by the sun, solar power. You too in your homes could have energy generated by solar power, by wind power.
So you don’t need to have to buy gasoline and by becoming a ‘green state’ Guyana will be able to use cheaper energy but also sustainable energy. So when the petroleum comes from offshore you don’t even have to use a drop of that petroleum because our cars will be electric, our schools will be powered by solar power.
So my message to you is one of hope and today I come to celebrate with you, whether you are Christians, Hindus or Muslims, to celebrate Easter by bringing you these kites. So thank you very much for coming out and now we get into the serious business of kite sharing.
Thank you and may God bless you all, Parika-Salem.