Sugar estate communities targeted for Gatekeepers’ programme

Intended to reach those within communities who may be in dire need of counselling or guidance to deal with some of life’s circumstances, the Caribbean Voice, a non-governmental organisation [NGO], is set to introduce its Gatekeepers’ programme.
Among those that are being particularly eyed for this programme are communities that are home to sugar estates. This move is strategic since, according to Coordinator of the Caribbean Voice Guyana Chapter, Mr. Nazim Hussain, this need has arisen in light of the recent move by government to make redundant thousands of sugar workers.
According to Hussain, the Gatekeepers’ Programme is one much like the first responders programmes which targets the vulnerable in communities.
Initiating the gatekeepers’ programme, Hussain explained, entails training individuals within a community to be able to use their vantage positions to detect and help address, as far as possible, those faced with challenges.
Among those who are slated to be identified to aid the Gatekeepers’ movement, Hussain said, are estate workers, teachers, policemen, business persons and even taxi drivers.
But choosing the most suitable candidates will not be a haphazard process since, according to Hussain, an imperative approach is to reach out to Human Resource managers, representatives of other NGOs within the estate communities, religious organisations, among other leaders, to help identify those best suited for the programme.
“We are looking to have persons with the capacity to reach others…those who are deemed ‘people persons’ and are able to help them get the support they need,” said Hussain.
Preparing the selected individuals for the task will be done at planned training sessions.
One such training session, Hussain said, is slated for Saturday [February 3] in Rose Hall, Berbice.
This session, he informed, will be done in collaboration with the Guyana Sugar Corporation, which will provide the training facilities.
Through its ongoing efforts to reach persons, Hussain said that the Caribbean Voice has been able to reach and counsel in excess of 300 people. And according to him, in addition to reaching some individuals in person, others are reached by means of telephone and even Facebook. Detecting those who may be in need of counselling, Hussain said, could be as simple as recognising a change in behaviour.
Just recently the Caribbean Voice was able to reach out to more than 100 teachers from schools across Canje, Berbice. According to Hussain, reaching out to the teachers was a deliberate tactic. He revealed that because of what is occurring in the sugar industry, there have been signs of schoolchildren being affected by the spin-off effects of some workers being severed from sugar estates.
Hussain said that while the Caribbean Voice was initially aiming to train students how to cope, it was General Secretary of the Guyana Teachers’ Union [GTU], Coretta McDonald, who decided that a more strategic approach would be to reach to teachers instead, so that they can be the first responders. It is anticipated that this move will not only reach the students and pupils, but their parents as well.
According to Hussain, the efforts engaged by Caribbean Voice do not have a racial or political agenda.
“We are not going into the estates to tell people about what whoever did, and who got them severed. We are going into the sugar estates and these areas to do what is called trainer of trainers,” he asserted.


About caribvoice

Free lance journalist, educator and community activist. Guyana born New York based.
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