By Tracey Khan – Drakes
[www.inewsguyana.com] – Down to earth, assertive and charismatic, Sandra Granger is much more than a reflection of her husband President David Granger; she is a woman with values and of course, an eagerness to help develop Guyana in her new capacity as First Lady.
Meaningfully engaging senior citizens to help motivate and inspire youths will be one of the key focuses of Mrs Granger, who is still adjusting to her high level post.
In her first interview, after becoming first lady, Mrs. Granger sat down with iNews and spoke of her plans to ensure that seniors are not isolated because of their age since she believes they can continue to contribute significantly to the country and more particularly the youths.
“I want to make sure that our older folks feel valued and respected rather than just left to vegetate in their homes. I am looking at how you could merge the needs of the young people with the skills, expertise and experience of the senior citizens who may be able to help the children with their homework and be their mentors,” the First Lady told iNews.
Additionally, the First Lady spoke to the issue of not having sustained critical engagements for seniors who are living in homes.
“I recently found too that there are not sustained projects in the homes for the elderly where you might be teaching them craft up to a certain time and then it stops…and so basically the senior citizens are just left to watch television and look at one another, so they need to be actively engaged.”
Mrs. Granger will first pilot these ideas to “see how they build up and see the experiences you can gain and then you move on and see how you can learn and you can mesh and merge with it.”
She also hopes to help working mothers with their children.
“I am looking a kid whose parents might have to be working late so there is somebody there or they have a place where they can go to which is safe and they also have adults who can teach them things.”
She also spoke about networking with other agencies that are working to deal with issues such as trafficking in persons, rape and sexual abuse.
“People have been getting away with these crimes with impunity, so they feel they could do what they want if they talk to the right person or pay off the right bribe.”
When asked to describe herself, she was very modest.
“I am just an ordinary housewife, retiree with interest, I enjoy my family, I feel very strongly about family being the basis for a strong society.”
The first lady loves to travel and read. “I am domesticated in the sense that I like to cook and experiment and do things, baking and I like to travel, I like to explore new places.”
Mrs. Granger also has high expectations of the new administration, with the main one being security and education.
“I think education is a major impetus for development…everybody should be seeking education one way or the other, I am not only speaking about academic education, I am speaking about improving skills, improving technical vocational skills as well, improving our communication skills, knowing the value of being professional when we are dealing in a job situation.”
The former career woman and mother of two children has no interest in political office, but noted that she was happy to help her husband in becoming President.
Meanwhile, speaking about President Granger, as a husband and father she described him as being “enlighten and he has never seen the need to impose his views on anybody, we love each other and we are friends in a sense but I disagree with him on a lot of things and I speak my mind to him and we would stick to our positions and move on.”
She is relieved that the new administration will lift the VAT for certain food items.
“I think that if you can feed your children and be comfortable and of course giving a living wage those are major things, if you are struggling day to day, you cannot think beyond the next meal or the next pay, if you can say that my children will be educated and i feel comfortable with that.”
Mrs. Granger was employed at the Caricom Secretariat for 18 years and retired as a senior programme manager. Prior to that, she lectured at the University of Guyana and at the then Radio Demerara.
She has degrees in English Literature and Portuguese from the University of Guyana and a Masters in Brazilian Literature from the University of Pittsburg, Pennsylvania on a scholarship.