The Tiger Bay Project: “It’s not a hand-out culture”

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By Jomo Paul

An apartment in the community centre. [iNews' Photo]
An apartment in the community centre. [iNews’ Photo]
[www.inewsguyana.com] – Tiger Bay – arguably the most depressed community in Guyana – has seen more than its fair share of stigma, being snubbed, unadulterated poverty and filth, but the residents still have a renewed sense of optimism in James Bond, a young politician and Attorney – at – Law.

Neatly nestled in Central Georgetown, Tiger Bay has acquired a bad reputation of being one of the areas where you dare not venture at nights or even during the day out of the fear that you may be relieved by gun toting youths of whatever you have.

The people of the area however are not daunted by their circumstance and perils, regardless of how grim they may be; they are wary, skilled, and full of pride vigilant.

Bond interacts with some residents in the area. [iNews' Photo]
Bond interacts with some residents in the area. [iNews’ Photo]
Bond recently embarked on the Tiger Bay Project, which is geared towards ensuring a better life for the residents which starts with them being relocated to another area.

But before that is done, several prerequisite steps have to be taken and as such, he is attempting to make life for them somewhat acceptable and a step up from what currently obtains.

One of the apartments. [iNews' Photo]
One of the apartments. [iNews’ Photo]
Bond told iNews that for too long the residents of the community have been marginalized and it is time that some attention is placed on the development of the people there.

He made it clear that he is not in the business of hand-outs, indicating that instead of some money, what the residents need are the skills and tools so that they can go out into the world and make whatever monies they need.

“It’s not a hand-out culture,” he stated while in discussion with a few persons gathered on the streets when he arrived on Tuesday, June 16.

Cleaning of the drains in the area continues.
Cleaning of the drains in the area continues.

Bond is hoping to partner with the government and other focus groups to help develop the capacity of the residents with specific attention being given to the youths. He also embarked on a rigorous clean up campaign in the community, getting businesses on board to assist in the process.

Eslene Richmond Scott fought at every turn to hold back tears after she ventured into the community centre for Tiger Bay. At present, the building houses some nine families with an average of four persons per family.

The families use one kitchen and one bathroom, both of which are in deplorable conditions. The only privacy they are allowed is within the confines of their respective rooms, which when one considers it, is not private at all.

“I didn’t know that people lived like this anymore in this country. Whatever I can do, I will do.”

One resident explained that whenever it rains, it’s a most terrible situation in the homes which are supposed to provide shelter.

Local Football star, Godfrey Powers. [iNews' Photo]
Local Football star, Godfrey Powers. [iNews’ Photo]
“When rain fall, you gotta play hopscotch up there,” she explained while pointing to the top floor of one of the buildings.

Local Football star, Godfrey Powers also resides in the community, where he shares an apartment with the mother of his two children.

“It is time people live better, people can’t tek this…we really need a change, youths need some jobs and education,” said Powers.

The Head of Habitat for Humanity, Rawle Small in a recent letter to the editor, had floated the possibility of Tiger Bay being turned into a tourist destination in the coming years.

“Tiger Bay is a historic neighbourhood in Georgetown. Its people are full of pride, vigilant, resourceful and its history and present can be woven into a       fantastic story to share with all Guyanese and Guyana’s visitors. In summary here is what I imagine for Tiger Bay, colourful, vibrant tourist attraction with various art offerings inclusive of music, sculpture, drama, dance and culinary offerings displayed in and outside soft bars, restaurants, indoor and outdoor cafes, a small dance studio, etc.”

The cooking area of some residents. [iNews' Photo]
The cooking area of some residents. [iNews’ Photo]
He pointed out that the “historical offerings about Tiger Bay and its immediate environs, artifacts, revered heroes and heroines, notable supporters, epochs, crucial moments, and so on displayed in a museum (Museum of the Guyanese People?) or two and at key locations throughout the district.”

 

4 COMMENTS

  1. Many years ago, I was invited by the then Mayor of Georgetown, Ms Beryl Simon to produce a Saturday afternoon concert in Tiger bay. All the performers were from Tiger bay, except the Guyana Police Force Band. We did the play by Derryck Jeffrey entitled, “Stand Pipe”, in a yard in the heart of Tiger bay, right around a real standpipe. The audience was mammoth and included quite a number of city VIPs.

    In the past ten years or so, I have been working on a video documentary about a REAL HERO from Tiger bay. In fact, in my humble opinion, that “Hero of Tiger Bay’, the late Mr Christopher Stephenson, is arguably the greatest civilian Guyanese Hero of all time. He gave his very life in saving two GWI workers who were trapped in a manhole on Sussex Street, Charlestown, Georgetown. The video documentary which is entitled “The Hero of Tiger Bay”, chronicles the life and death of Christopher Stephenson, and is planned to be completed in time for Guyana’s 50th Independence anniversary.

    I am also working on a long poem entitled, “The Ballad of Christopher Stephenson” which takes some poetic license in relating the last day in the life of the late Christopher Stephenson – The Hero of Tiger Bay.

    I am very pleased to know that Mr James Bond is putting his energies into assisting the People of Tiger Bay to work diligently in improving their standard of living. Best of luck to them all.

  2. I think it is appropriate for me to inform you that Albouystown has produced many, many GREAT Guyanese. For example, Henry Muttoo, MBE, who, two years ago, was a guest at Buckingham Palace, in London, England, where the Queen of England, Elizabeth, pinned the Medal of the “Member of the British Empire” on him. Yes, Mr Derryck S Griffith, Albouystown-born Henry Muttoo, MBE, and there are many others like him. BTW Nazareth was also regarded as a “depressed” community, and that is where Jesus used to live.

  3. As I stated in a previous similar story, and I say again, the residents have to take pride in their surroundings not one day but everyday of their lives and to teach their families the same. There is not excuse that people have to live under these conditions. People choose to live that way. It is a culture of hopelessness and disconnection. Many of them feel the only way to survive is to engage in drugs, crime, etc. However,they are caught faster and imprisoned than the political criminals. So crime and drugs are not the route to take.

    What about cleanliness? Poverty is no excuse to live in filth. Why are the men not being more diligent in providing a better life for their family? Why are the women not elevating themselves also. What about cleaning up the area painting,remodeling, painting the zinc to stop it from rust. This is strictly lawlessness. Poverty is a sign in many instances of at times suppression, a subculture that people create through isolation, non involvement in education and growth. The education system is free. Some choose not to go to school and their environment encourages that. How can the children learn in an environment that do not see education and learning a skill or trade as important. As some bloggers say they are lazy and want a quick buck, some don’t want to “hut dem head to go to school to get educated and learn a skill”
    I am confident that people will rise up and live a better life by developing their talents. The people must be more resilient. They should first have a sense of pride and dignity in themselves, their surrounding, they should be taught work ethics and the importance of using their time more effectively. They sleep and wake up with a disregard of the element of time. People must be taught how to structure their lives- time wise- more effectively.

    . I applaud Mr Bond for taking steps to help and the new government working to help the residents to elevate the lives by teaching them how to make a better life for themselves and family. All those free trade schools, but first a needs analysis must determine their reading, writing and math levels and their skills and talents, i.e art, sculpture, etc . Guyanese are brilliant people, so please help by teaching those who have not reach that level of education and also support the artist through showcasing their work and people purchasing their products

    . The keys to the beginning of success is education, acquiring the skills and tools that are needed to gain employment or the creation of a business with their artistic talents, etc.

    I agree with the Head of Habitat for Humanity, Rawle Small to make it a tourist attraction, but first it must be cleaned up and be beautified. The people can sell their artwork, etc. Yes, for historical purposes photographs of the current living conditions should be taken, as a before and after look. We know that poverty do exist and will continue to exist. However a nation is measured by the resilience and progress of the people.

  4. Ref, Tiger Bay-Kingston-Georgetown-Guyana.

    Guyana Tiger Bay Community in Kingstown Georgetown, is no different from that in Drysdale street Charlestown, or Albouystown, or Lombard Street, Charlestown.

    These are all traditional Slum Lord Ghettos that were allowed to fester un-molested or ignored by the city authorities.

    WHY? Because they cater to the lowest segment of our society.

    Most of whom, in the eyes of mainstream society does not matter much.

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