Georgetown, Guyana – (October 24, 2017) Minister of Social Cohesion with the responsibility for Culture, Youth and Sport, Dr. George Norton said that he is impressed with the development initiatives in some Indigenous communities during his visits last weekend to six villages in Upper Takutu-Upper Essequibo (Region Nine), where he and a team from the Ministry conducted a social cohesion sensitisation sessions. The Minister met with residents of Hiawa, Nappi, Parishara, Kuma, Quarrie and Lethem and was particularly impressed with the village of Parishara, which has its own food processing and packaging house. He told the villagers to continue to contribute in the development of their villages and to Guyana as a whole.

“I would like to see more of this development, more plans being executed that would make your villages self-sufficient. There is more that can be done but you are on the right track… Continue to develop your villages,” the Minster told the villagers of Hiawa, Nappi, Kuma and Quarrie.

The Minister was also pleased that some of the young people, who had participated in a Social Cohesion Inter-Village Exchange Forum in August, have begun to execute their projects, based on what they learnt during the exercise. In Parishara the youths have identified land to start a peanut farm. Dr. Norton met one of the youths who came up with the idea of a peanut farm for the community. Ms. Alice Mc Donald, 18 years, explained to him that peanut farm is for her and the women’s in the group in Parishara. Ms. McDonald told the Minister that the nuts will be supplied to the Parishara Processing plant where she also works. The teen was one of 162 youths who benefited from the Ministries Inter Village Social Cohesion’s empowerment, entrepreneurship forum.

Minister Norton urged other communities to follow the example of Parishara to ensure the development of their villages.

Moreover, the Minister also charged the residents of the villages to work towards becoming more cohesive communities so they can work together for the betterment of the country. Dr. Norton also spoke to villagers about preserving their culture, traditions and languages. “This is what is important for the Ministry of Social Cohesion. We must push our cultures, we must promote it…,” the Minister said.

Speaking at each village, he said that his Ministry is prepared to offer the communities of Hiawa, Nappi, Parishara, Kuma, Quarrie and Lethem the same opportunities for culture youth and sport development, that is available on the Coast.

Meanwhile, Coordinator at the Ministry of Social Cohesion, Ms. Sharon Patterson, explained the critical role of the Ministry, which is to work towards a more united country by nurturing individual and community relationships. She noted that since the Ministry’s portfolio has been expanded to include Culture, Youth and Sport, its mandate now is to use those areas as tools to deepened social cohesion across the country. The coordinator also told the villagers that the Ministry of Social Cohesion will be working along with other Ministries especially the Ministry of Indigenous Peoples’ Affairs to better serve them. Ms. Patterson expressed that the Ministry is pleased to be engaging the communities in Region Nine and promised that they will aid in the developmental process in the villages.

Meanwhile, Minister of Indigenous Peoples’ Affairs, Mr. Sydney Allicock, who visited Hiawa with Minister Norton, urged the villagers to embrace their cultural identity. Mr. Allicock also spoke to the people of Hiawa about a Village Improvement Plan (VIP), which President David Granger has encouraged other villages throughout Guyana to develop. He advised villagers to have a VIP in place, which could ultimately guide them in their future developmental plans.

Minister Norton during his visit to the communities sampled some of the Indigenous delicacies that were made by the elders in the villages. He distributed footballs and volleyballs to the village’s sports clubs.

Present on the outreaches to the villages were Regional Chairman of Region Nine, Mr. Brian Allicock, Social Cohesion Technical Officer, Mr. Shabir Ali, Deputy Regional Executive Officer of Region Nine, Mr. Sherwyn Wellington and Regional Executive Officer, Mr. Kerwin Ward.

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