Georgetown, Guyana – (November 25, 2018) Minister of State, Mr. Joseph Harmon, today, sounded a call for the residents of Pouderoyen and surrounding communities in Essequibo Islands-West Demerara (Region Three) to take up the responsibility of their communities’ development as he noted that a community is as progressive as its people.

He was at the time delivering the closing remarks at launch of the Visionary Community Development Association (VCDA) and the reopening of the Pouderoyen Community Centre as a hub for residents, particularly young people, single mothers and the elderly.

Minister Harmon, who inspired and supported the launch of the youth group, said it is his hope that the VCDA, which has been established with the aim of addressing the social needs of the people in the community, will be able to create a wave of change, where residents will become involved in the affairs of their community and their own development.

“I am very proud to be associated with this group. These aren’t people who are looking for anything, these are people who are prepared to give back to their community. This community I believe, really needs a wake-up call. During the last Local Government Elections, I had the opportunity of walking the streets and all around Pouderoyen and what I sensed was that there was some level of lethargy in the community where people felt that being involved in developmental activities was not for them. The development of your community lies in your hands and it is you, the group, who will have to make that change. I consider the people here today to be a microcosm of what will take place in the entire region. All of you have to see yourselves as agents of the change that will have to take place,” Minister Harmon said.

Further, he noted that the community centre has been reopened due to the efforts of the group and the regional administration after being out of use for more than a decade. Minister Harmon noted that the Government will now strive to make a conscious effort to ensure that cases like these never occur again and community facilities are made available to the residents and for the purposes for which they were intended.

“This is State property and we have to ensure that [it] serve[s] the purpose for which it was built. We will ensure that the facilities built by the State are put to the good use of the community and here is a good start,” he said.

Regional Executive Officer of Region Three, Mr. Denis Jaikaran, in an invited comment, echoed similar sentiments as he committed to ensuring that every community facility in that region is made available to the residents.

“At the regional level, we are going to ensure that we work with this group; we are going to ensure that this group cause[s] a multiplying effect to have other groups across this region. When we would have done that, we are going to form ourselves into a regional group to ensure that development in this region take[s] place. There are a number of facilities, buildings, grounds, and so that are not properly utilised and as the custodian of government property in this region, I will ensure that every one of those facilities that are in those communities, that they are faithfully handed over to the communities for the purpose for which it was set out for. We have to ensure that we engage the young people,” he said.

Additionally, Mr. Jaikaran said that while the group will run some of its programmes from the community centre, the regional administration is also in discussion with the National Data Management Authority of the Ministry of Public Telecommunications to establish an Information and Communication Technology (ICT) hub there.

Ms. Zalika Williams, Leader of the VCDA, in an invited comment, said that her group was formed about three months ago after it was realised that the Minister of State could not meet with every resident even though he was willing to do so. She noted that the idea of the group is to meet with residents, identify their needs and partner with Government and also non-governmental organisations to build capacity in the cases of single mothers and school drop-outs and to provide programmes such as ICT classes, sport activities and community development activities to occupy the younger minds.

Deputy Commissioner of Police, Ms. Maxine Graham, who was present at the simple ceremony also pledged her support to the initiatives of the group. She noted that the community of Pouderoyen would have nurtured her and as a product of the village, it is her wish to give back.

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