By The Piper
The January 12, 2010 earthquake in Haiti brought out the best of Guyanese values. The show of support by the Guyanese public was backed up by the Government of Guyana donation of one million dollars (USD). It will take a long time before the Haitian people return to full normalcy.
In the meantime, another disaster with roots in the Middle East (and also in the African Horn) is evident in Europe. Aylan Kurdi’s lifeless body on a Turkish beach has indeed shocked the conscience of people all over the globe. Aylan is now dead and gone, but he left hundreds of thousands behind, all of them destitute, some dying. These are men and women in search of a home, a place for survival.
Many of us rightfully criticize the West for its racism, both historical and current, but we need to go beyond criticism. Why can’t the BRICS countries, for instance, step in and take in those refugees? What more has to happen? If the BRICS cannot show leadership now, then its claims of resisting Western hegemony will ring hallow. Germany has stepped up to the plate, but what awaits those refugees in Germany only time will tell.
We should not wait around for the big countries to do the job. Leadership comes in many forms, and in many magnitudes, and this is where CARICOM countries come in to play. Regional leadership can now be taken, can now be acted on, and implemented all at once. This would substantiate the narratives of liberation propounded by Caribbean leaders at the United Nations and elsewhere.
If CARICOM cannot make up its mind and do something when the call for leadership is urgent, then Guyana might itself take up the challenge, with perhaps 500 souls. Our response to the Haitian earthquake proves that Guyanese, when called upon, can put aside the tiresome and petty feelings of ethnic injury we suffer because of each other.
What is called for here is indeed a huge undertaking, but we have endured, and then triumphed over brutalities heaped on us by the same Europe where human beings are now abandoned from the streets to the train stations. In one notable case, the President of Hungary, Viktor Urban is on record that his country’s decision is based on protecting ‘European civilization’.
How will this be done? The first and only thing is for the government to immediately ask for Guyanese families to take in some refugee families. That is the basic strategy. It is strikingly simple because our society is based relations of trust and reciprocity, and our hospitality is a national value.
Homes with refugee families will receive a monthly subsidy, which will end when the refugee family starts working. The Private Sector Commission will, of course, play a leading role in job placements. Then the next biggest job of all is for us to get our act together and help those who are truly suffering.