Guyana Foundation wants more done to tackle social ills
News of the heinous act committed against a young teenaged boy in Berbice has no doubt stirred widespread public outrage. It has also highlighted the need for more action to be taken at all level to prevent such situations from recurring.
As such, the Guyana Foundation – a local non-profit organisation focusing on mental health issues – has called on the Ministries of Public Health, Social Protection and National Security to make urgent and bolder efforts to safeguard citizens in communities across the country, saying that recent crimes of child rape and familial homicide are clear indicators that all is not well and the situation will continue to worsen if no action is taken.
“We are calling on these Ministries to work together to come up with a battle plan as to how they intend to lift up our communities to stop this senseless loss of lives. Make your plans public, people want to know, people want to help and the Guyana Foundation is willing to assist in any way possible,” the organisation said.
It pointed out that the counselling work it has been conducting in Essequibo alone showed that the mental state of Guyanese was extremely fragile. The Foundation offers free counselling six days a week at its centre as well as assist with counselling at the Suddie Hospital. These counselling sessions – counselling for depression, suicidal thoughts and counselling for survivors of suicide – give psycho-social support. Each case is confidentially logged according to gender and age.
According to the entity, being involved in this groundwork puts it in a position to say that the numbers are increasing steadily.
“It has forced us to strengthen our resolve to deal with these issues by going door to door in communities in Region Two. We can no longer wait for persons to come to us. That is how bad it is. We do not have the capability to blanket the Region, because we are a non-profit organisation,” it stated.
Moreover, the Guyana Foundation has engaged television stations to reach out for volunteers and the response has been good. It has also started walkabouts in Charity and that work will continue from village to village. However, the lack of resources is hindering the scope of work that needs to be done.
“We have also been making efforts to network with representatives in the Region from the various Ministries. This is still in a fledgling state. The personnel and the resources attributed to this Region in particular are woefully inadequate. The framework within which these Ministries that have been functioning for so many years need to be improved urgently to meet the changing needs in the communities,” the Foundation noted.
It went on to say that it has conducted workshops with health workers and Police Cadets to facilitate the sharing of whatever knowledge they have on how to deal with some of these social ills. It added that it was alarming that some of the first responders enquired how they could get counselling, since many of them had suicidal thoughts.
“What this tells us is that to bring healing to our communities, pinned down by poverty for so many years, we have to work together.”
In calling on the relevant Government agencies to institute bolder protection mechanisms, the Foundation said: “The people of Guyana are sickened by what is going on…How have we fallen to the level where children are being sodomised, women and children being beaten to death, young men and women ingesting poisons to die is the stuff that fills our news reports…”
The Foundation noted that there were countries that could and were willing to help, as well as other international NGOs that can bring their resources and experience to Guyana and assist in addressing these societal ills. The religious bodies – Christian, Muslim, Hindu and others – are willing to help if they are given the right signals from these Ministries, the organisation further stated.
In the meantime, the Guyana Foundation says it will continue to strengthen and expand its work in communities and is inviting citizens to go out and volunteer with the organisation.