Georgetown, Guyana – (August 12, 2017) First Lady, Mrs. Sandra Granger, last evening, told members of the Guyana Girl Guides Association that it is her hope for them that they become strong women, who are conscious of their value and self-worth. Mrs. Granger, who is the patron of the organisation, was at the time speaking at the closing ceremony of a one-week camp and workshop, which were held at the Girl Guide’s Pavilion on Brickdam.

The Camp, titled Camp G.I.R.L.S., an acronym for “Growing, Inspiring, Reaching, Learning, Sharing,” which was a merger of the Girl Guides National Camp and the ‘Be the Best You’ Workshop, which focused on young girls from the East Coast of Demerara, West Coast of Demerara and Georgetown and exposed them to a wide spectrum of subjects. These included self-esteem and caution in internet surfing, modern etiquette and dining out, caring for the environment, sports for development, women and work.

Mrs. Granger said that the Camp is timely as it is geared towards equipping young girls to deal with some of the challenges, which they may face. Noting that the world is now much more complex and difficult to negotiate than the one, which she would have been raised in, the First Lady said that women must now become stronger and more conscious of their value.

“I know that when you read newspapers or view or listen to the news you have an almost daily diet of acts of violence being committed against women and girls or of young persons committing suicide because of despair. Another issue is the importance of self-esteem and self-confidence so that you develop the ability to withstand the blandishments of those, who would want you to become involved in every mindless crowd activity,” the First Lady said.

She encouraged the young girls to take note of their conduct as they embark in any chapter of their lives, particularly the world of study and work, so that they gain and maintain the respect of their peers and other members of the society. “How you behave in public influences the opinion people have about you. This is where your sessions on modern etiquette and dining out and women and work come in. First impressions are still very important. I hope that you will have become stronger and recognised your intrinsic value during the course of Camp GIRLS where you will have “Grown, Been Inspired, Reached, Learnt and Shared”,” she said.

One aspect of the camp sessions focused on the protection and preservation of the environment as the country continues to pursue the ‘green’ state development policy. Speaking on this issue, Mrs. Granger told the young girls that this is yet another critical area given the current impact of global warming and climate change. “Our actions; the things we do in our daily lives, have led to the world’s population using up the earth’s resources faster than the planet can regenerate them. We have eliminated some species, destroyed habitats and through the indiscriminate use of chemicals are polluting the atmosphere and our land and water resources. We must ensure that we preserve and protect our environment so that our children and future generation can survive and thrive,” she said.

The First Lady also addressed the subject of diet and exercise as she noted that healthy lifestyles are important. With non-communicable diseases being a public health issues in Guyana and the wider Caribbean, Mrs. Granger urged the girls to make healthy and wise choices, which can give them the best out of life.

“We not only have to eat a balanced diet, we must minimise our stress and lead active lives. Women and girls’ health and wellbeing are integral to the growth and development of our country. There is concern that cervical cancer is the second leading cause of cancer death in Guyana. We are also concerned about sexually transmitted diseases and HIV, chronic non-communicable diseases such as diabetes, high cholesterol, hypertension and cardiac disease,” she said.

The First Lady, who has been working closely with the Women Across Differences (WAD) and other non-governmental organisations and Government agencies to tackle teenage pregnancy, also used the opportunity to speak to the young Guides on the realities of this problem. “Guyana has one of the highest rates of teenage pregnancy in the Caribbean Community. Few of the adolescent mothers return to school to complete their education. If they find employment, it is low waged work. They remain trapped in a cycle of poverty and some become dependent on our social services for their own and their children’s survival,” she explained. Mrs. urged the girls to make the best of the education they would have received over the past week and to ensure that they use it to make choices for themselves and their future.

Meanwhile, Ms. Schemel Patrick, who coordinated the week’s events said that it is an annual event, which was merged this year with the ‘Be the Best You’ workshop, aimed at empowering young girls to be the best that they can be.

“We had one filled week of adventures and learning. We did a programme, which focused on encouraging girls to not focus on the image but its okay to be themselves, we focused on how girls can be smart while surfing the internet, we had movie night, we did craft activities and the Environmental Protection Agency was here to do a session on caring for the environment, the Carnegie School of Home Economics taught modern etiquette and dining out and we also took them out to various workplaces to meet women workers and we also had ‘Passion into Paycheck’, which basically taught them how they can use a hobby or something they are really passionate about to make money,” she said.

Ms. Kayseri, one of the girls who participated in the Camp, said that it was an enriching and educational experience. She noted that she looks forward to making good use of all that she has learnt. “Over the last week, I have had fun. I have learnt how to make craft and I have also learnt that I should not focus on what’s on the outside but what’s on the inside. I can use this to go home and make myself a better person and I want to encourage everyone else to use this experience to better their lives as well,” she said.

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