Georgetown, Guyana – (December 12, 2019) First Lady, Mrs. Sandra Granger, this morning, formally launched the Anira Foundation, a not-for-profit organization aimed at providing educational and empowerment opportunities for vulnerable groups. The launch was hosted at a simple ceremony at the Cara Lodge.
Mrs. Granger, in her feature address said the idea for forming the Foundation was conceptualized in 2017. She also said she hoped to foster an interest in Science, Technology, Education and Mathematics (STEM) through the distribution of Robotic kits to school-aged youths in both coastal and hinterland communities and through collaboration with government ministries and agencies.
“I began thinking two years ago about what I could do to continue the work I had begun and to use the experiences I had gained, while I was First Lady, in reaching out to people and continuing the work. The aim is to educate and empower people because if we do not educate people, we are giving them handouts and they will be in the same boat that they were in and they will not be able to manage and make decisions for themselves and this is where the empowerment comes in and this is where we will gather our skills and move forward as a nation,” she said.
The First Lady explained that the Foundation’s name is sentimental as she lived, for a period during her childhood, on Anira Street, Queenstown. “My memories of Anira Street… are very fond ones and full of positive memories of belonging, sharing and children feeling very safe and comfortable in a neighbourhood watched over by all the adults, regardless of their social status,” she said.
During an interactive session in the programme, the First Lady was engaged on how the Foundation plans to tackle the scourge of gender-based violence given the findings of the recent Guyana Women’s Health and Life Experiences Survey.
In response, Mrs. Granger said the Foundation plans to address this issue in a non-conventional way by targeting both men and women since both sexes are affected.
“One of the things that we recognized is that we can’t only focus on women. There is a very huge problem in relation to the male species as well and we have to address this, so we have discussed the issues that our men folk and boys face and by next year, we have to start looking at projects where we start to decide how we get this issue of gender-based violence [addressed] in the schools… to make an impact,” she said.
Meanwhile, in a statement distributed before the start of the event, the First Lady emphasized that her lifelong dream is for Guyana to have educated young people.
“Anira goes beyond my work as the First Lady to fulfil my lifelong dream of a Guyana where our young people have the knowledge to make healthy choices and can utilize their innate talents and skills to provide for their families… The Foundation exists to secure the future of Guyana’s youths by placing the power of knowledge into the hand of the vulnerable,” the statement said.
Meanwhile, in his remarks, Minister of Communities, Mr. Ronald Bulkan commended the First Lady for her concern for vulnerable persons. “I think it is no secret that our First Lady, Mrs. Granger, being an academic and a professional, knows a lot but what is also evident is the fact that she cares… This Foundation is testament and testimony to her commitment to the vulnerable. The Ministry is honoured to partner with the Anira Foundation for the realization of its noble and lofty goals,” he said.
The Board of Directors of the Foundation comprises several well-known professionals from the education, social work, health and other sectors. These include Ms. Evelyn Hamilton of the Ministry of Education and Sister Julie Matthews of the Sisters of Mercy.
The Foundation will depend upon donations to conduct its work. It has already made contributions to the STEM Guyana Robotics Team, which copped the ‘Albert Einstein Gold Medal of Excellence’ award and placed amongst the top 25 per cent in the ‘First Global Robotics’ competition in Dubai, United Arab Emirates.