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Georgetown, Guyana – (May 19, 2017) Minister of Social Protection, Ms. Amna Ally, today, pledged to provide assistance to enable Ms. Rohilda Glasgow, a graduate of First Lady, Mrs. Sandra Granger’s 16th Self Reliance and Success in Business Workshop, to establish a greenhouse in Sophia, Georgetown. Minister of Citizenship, Mr. Winston Felix also threw his support behind the project while Minister of Legal Affairs, Mr. Basil Williams, also committed to supporting the programmes undertaken by the Office of the First Lady. The ceremony was held at the Cummings Park Multi-Purpose Centre.

The Ministers made the commitment after Ms. Glasgow, one of 40 graduates who hail from Cummings Park, Cummings Lodge, Pattensen and from ‘A’ to ‘E’ Field, Sophia, graduated from the week-long training session. Minister Ally said that she was honoured to be among so many young persons who are at the heart of the government’s programmes and who are now fully empowered. “It is impossible not to be inspired by your vision, your drive, and your dedication to succeed in life. All of you committed yourselves to this process for almost an entire week and for that I must applaud your dedication,” she said.

The Minister also commended the First Lady for organising and collaborating with her Ministry to ensure that all women are given access to the opportunities to become self-reliant.

“I want all of you to know how important and valuable you all are and your contribution regardless of how small. You can play a significant role in all development spheres within your society… I promise you, we will continue to unlock the doors to your success and unblock avenues that can impede you from gaining access to opportunities … the empowerment of women is high on the agenda of our development priorities and this workshop is a testament to this administration’s commitment to empower women,” she said.

Meanwhile, the First Lady commended the graduates for persevering and completing the programme, noting that she is pleased to see that they have become self-confident. “The reason I focus on women is that [all the evidence] shows that once a woman advances economically her family advances with her. This is why I am focused on getting our women ready and empowered … Sometimes, very often we [as women] say I don’t know anything, or I can’t do anything when basically you have grown up with skills that you don’t even realise you have … So the idea behind [this workshop] is to have you start thinking as business women,” Mrs. Granger said.

The First Lady also invited the teenage mothers at the workshop to participate in an upcoming Childcare Workshop set for June 19-23, 2017. The two-part programme will include a First Aid training component, which will be hosted by the Guyana Red Cross Society.

In addition, Mr. Sanjay Johann Pooran, Facilitator at Interweave Solutions Incorporated, who gave a brief overview of the syllabus, said that four groups have been formed among participants in the workshop. Two of the groups: Still I Rise and the Cummings Park-Sophia Youth Group, plan to tackle teenage pregnancy, which their members perceive to be a serious social issue in the community.

The other two groups; The Cooperative Group plans to address street lighting and the other, Unity Progress, plans to tackle pollution. 

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Mr. Pooran lauded the group’s accomplishments and spoke proudly about the workshop’s achievements countrywide. To date 533 individuals, mostly women, have been trained across all Ten Administrative Regions. “If you meet a participant who has graduated from this programme, you would have met a woman, or, in our case, a few gentlemen whose lives were significantly impacted and transformed in just a matter of five days… I say this at every graduation ceremony; the impact of this programme cannot be measured in dollars, it’s measured in the changes in lives. People’s lives have been changed for the better because they have a more holistic approach to their personal development than they did in the past,” he said.

Several of the participants were eager to share their experiences during the workshop. “My experience here this week was very great. I learnt how to manage my business, how to promote my business … I also learned how to improve on my business and also my lifestyle,” Ms. Shellon Carmichael, a cosmetologist of Block ‘E’, Cummings Park said. She also appealed to the First Lady to consider hosting a second workshop in the community.

In an invited comment, Ms. Janet Odessa Jones said that she is pleased to have completed the programme. “I feel great, I feel wonderful because this is something I really wanted to happen in Sophia for a long time and now that we have completed this programme, I already have a plan in mind for my business so that I could move forward, so that I could add value to my life,” she said.

Ms. Loreen Bennett expressed similar sentiments. “I’m so glad that the First Lady has set up this programme so that we could gain from it more and more. I was so glad that the programme [came] up, it helped me a lot and helped me to [become more confident]. My daughter was also able to come out and I’m so glad and thankful for everything,” she said.

Lieutenant Colonel (ret’d) Yvonne Smith, Confidential Secretary to the First Lady, Ms. Andrea Marks, Councillor and Coordinator of the workshop in Sophia, Ms. Caroline Hicks, Technical Adviser to Minister of Health, Ms. Volda Lawrence also attended the graduation exercise.

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