Twenty-five girls who are members of vulnerable groups across Guyana now have an opportunity to write their stories and get them published under a brand new project by the Ministry of Human Services and Social Security called, “The StoryBoard Initiative.”
Launched at the Guyana Women’s Leadership Institute (GWLI) at Cove-and-John, East Coast Demerara, on Monday, the initiative was conceptualised during a conversation with subject minister, Dr. Vindhya Persaud and one of her team members, Anuradha Persaud.
The idea is to impart creative writing skills along with functional literacy to develop storyboards written by girls who had difficult lives, but surmounted those challenges. Six teachers have signed on to assist the girls with their creative writing skills, along with six journalists of the Guyana Press Association who will volunteer as mentors.
The inspirational stories that come out of this initiative will be published and the proceeds will be used in the interest of these very girls. In fact, a series of inspirational books is intended to be published over time with more girls in the programme.
At the launch on Monday, each girl was provided with a creative survival kit which includes a tablet, hygiene products, toiletries, stationary supplies and a backpack to motivate them and support them.
“We wanted to ensure that International Girls Day was not just marked by a message or something we said, but we wanted to do something that would make an impact on you; something transformative…something that can change your lives,” Minister Persaud told the participants during her address.
According to her, the girls will be given the opportunity to share their stories “exactly as they are.” The proceeds from the books that are published will go right back to helping them build their careers and make their dreams into a reality, she said.
“We’re going to help you do more than just dream; we’ll help you make those dreams come through. Dreams do not have to remain dreams because you have a supportive network of all of us right behind you,” Dr. Persaud expressed.
Childcare Director Ann Green, also present at the launch, pointed out that the whole initiative was part of occupational therapy. “It will help you to deal with any issues that you have as young people. It’s a way of expressing yourself, especially if you cannot get anyone to hear you, so I want to encourage you to make full use of it,” she urged.
Greene told the girls that while the Ministry can light the spark, it was up to them to ensure that they keep the fire burning and remain motivated.
One of the teachers who will be helping is Christine Jaipaul of Tutorial Academy Secondary School, who has been in the teaching profession for the past 20 years. “From my understanding of the programme, I will be teaching them to write short stories over a period of six weeks; each week we’ll look at a different element. It’s a great initiative as I always advocate for young girls in need,” she shared.
Meanwhile, Dr. Persaud also used the occasion to launch the Youth Unfiltered TV programme that will be aired from this coming weekend. The programme features young influencers who will discuss timely topics on the ministry’s social media platforms, to help ignite health discussions among girls across the country, and heighten awareness of their challenges.