By Alva Solomon
For years, hinterland communities have seen recurring incidents of social issues, such as teenage pregnancy and alcohol abuse. Youths of Batavia, in Region Seven (Cuyuni-Mazaruni), plan to effect change to this situation to see social ills affecting the community being addressed frontally.
On October 28, 2022, the Batavia Mountain Movers Youth Group was presented to its home village. With training provided by Blossom Inc’s Spotlight Initiative, these youths, some of whom are serving as Community Support Officers, have been trained in various skills, and are equipped to address the issues of gender-based violence and child sexual abuse. They have also been trained in various life skills before the official launch of the group.
The training sessions were capacity-building initiatives to provide the youths of the community with skills and knowledge, so they can appropriately advocate for other persons within the community.
“The name Mountain Movers came about because of the main purpose of the group, and that is to make a positive impact on the lives of the youths of Batavia,” Crystal Williams, one of the leaders of the group, noted at its launching. She said the main pillars of the group are love, trust, and community service.
“This group believes that teamwork is what makes the dream work. And our dream as youths is to see our village forge ahead in terms of youth empowerment, hence our motto is, ‘Individuals go far, teams go further’,” she told the villagers.
Williams said the group would work together, with its motto being to provide the youths of the community a better and more level playing field when it comes to sports, jobs, and training opportunities. She said the group also wants to provide the youths in the area with “more solid building blocks to education and equal opportunities, so that they can make a more positive contribution to their family as well as village development.”
At the launch of the group, its members prepared several artistic pieces, such as skits, dramatic poems, songs, and an acrostic inspired by their training. Batavia Toshao Orin Williams, Deputy Toshao Donna Boyal, Regional Child Protection Officer Shenella Edwards, and representatives from Blossom Inc. Child Advocacy Centers graced the event.
Blossom’s Spotlight Initiative began in November 2020 in collaboration with the Spotlight Initiative, a project funded by the United Nations Children’s Fund, the United Nations, and the European Union. Its goal is to eliminate violence against women and girls in Guyana.
Blossom Inc’s Education and Outreach Officers Arlyne Ramdatt and Joses Solomon have been making several impactful trips into several communities to do just that.
The officers have been able to establish and support communities such as Matthews Ridge in Region 1 and Waramadong in Region 7 to launch youth groups similar to the one formed in Batavia.
According to Blossom Inc., the youth groups are not only peer-support bodies that offer safe spaces for young people in the community, but youths who form the group have received from Education and Outreach Officers training and mentorship that has provided them with the skills to plan and conduct various awareness-raising activities and campaigns to advocate against the social ills in their communities while supporting other youth in the community.
Following the launch of the Batavia Mountain Movers Youth Group, Blossom Inc expressed appreciation to the EU for being a major donor of funds to the UN to embark on the wider Spotlight Initiative.
That global initiative would see Guyana benefitting from the three-year, EU-funded program aimed at eliminating all forms of violence against women and girls.
“Much more is still to be done in order to see us, as a nation, achieve sustainable gender equality and the benefits of women empowerment by 2030,” Blossom Inc has said.
It has been noted that the Spotlight team would forever be grateful for all the support given and pledges made to the project.
For safe spaces to make reports of gender-based violence, members of the public can contact Blossom Inc. at 233-6701, the Counselling Hotline at 914, and/or the Child Protection hotline at 227-0979.