BY VAHNU MANIKCHAND
Residents of the neighbouring villages of Tucville and Lodge, Georgetown, on Monday afternoon participated in a clean-up exercise, as part of the diplomatic community-led Guyana Shines initiative.
Guyana Shines is an initiative by members of the diplomatic and civil society, including the United States Embassy, the British High Commission, the Canadian High Commission, the European Union Delegation in Guyana, Conservation International, and Youth Challenge.
On Monday, volunteers gathered on the lawns of the National Gymnasium before dispersing into the field. The volunteers comprised members/staff from the diplomatic community, the U.S. Ambassador D Brent Hardt, Georgetown Mayor Hamilton Green, ECHO Director Royston King and members of the Volunteer Youth Corps.
There were two groups; one went to clean the nearby surroundings of the gymnasium. The other group went to Tucville where they cleaned the surroundings of the Tucville Primary School. During these clean-up exercises, residents of these and surrounding areas participated in the initiative. The volunteers managed to get school children to participate in cleaning up the environment.
Guyana Times International caught up with the U.S. Ambassador Hardt, who noted that Guyana is known for its waterfalls, rainforest, and savannahs; however, the city of Georgetown could be cleaner as it was in the past, hence their efforts to keep the city clean. He said, “We are all in the diplomatic community here and we are all committed to Guyana and share the desire to see Guyana as beautiful and clean as it can be.”
The ambassador stated that they are hoping to educate young people, so that they can grow up taking care of their environment. He revealed that two weeks ago they went to 14 schools, starting with St Margret’s Primary School, to inform them about the importance of keeping our environment litter free.
Hardt explained that all over the world, countries have the same litter problem; however, by being educated about its effects on the environment, this can be changed for the better. “It is a long-term process; but it had to start now and I think with the diplomatic and civil engagement, we are hoping that we can get more people from Guyana communities, schools, NGOs, and local and national governments to get involved to make Guyana a cleaner and more beautiful place,” said the ambassador.
ECHO Executive Director Royston King told this newspaper that this is a really good initiative that caters for the environment and its issues. He noted that when the Guyana Shines initiative started, ECHO facilitated the launching in the schools. “We played a really important part in mobilising the children, in getting them together, and to get them involved in this Guyana Shines Project,” he said.
King added that he is happy to be a part of what he calls a “practical demonstration of leadership”. He said he hopes seeing these diplomats going into communities and actually doing work would make local leaders “emulate… this type of leadership, attitude, and action so that we can all advance in the interest of not only Georgetown, but Guyana and so that we can say that Guyana shines not only for now, but always”.
Dozens of school children last Friday used chalk to express themselves in a drawing competition organised by the Russian embassy to mark International Child Protection Day.
The competition was held on the tarmac of the Burrowes School of Art, Carifesta Avenue, under the theme “May there always be sunshine”. The competition was a collaborative effort between the Culture, Youth and Sport Ministry, the Russian embassy and the Russian business community. More than 40 children from schools in Georgetown, Kwakwani, Kuru Kuru and Aroaima participated.
Culture, Youth and Sport Minister Dr Frank Anthony said that while Guyana has youth arms of political parties, there also needs to be a children’s arm, and Guyana is not behind in this regard.
He noted that a pioneer movement was started in Guyana on June 1, 1979, and is privileged to be one of the first 50 pioneers that started the movement.
Dr Anthony said that the Soviet Union (now known as Russia) and later the Russian Republic spent a lot of time lobbying for this day to become a very prominent day in the international community, and it is because of their effort that “we have seen this day being highlighted around the world”. He also disclosed that during the time of the Soviet Union, with the many pioneer camps it had, children had played a very special role in those societies, and a lot of emphasis was placed on the holistic development of children.
The minister disclosed that from time to time, Guyana sends delegations to countries such as Cuba and Russia to participate in camps, and the experience, he noted, that participants have brought back has help to enhanced local children’s programmes.
The minister said the reason “We designate this special day to draw focus on the work that needs to be done with children and in Guyana, there have been significant advances as it relates to the protection of children.”
“We have passed, over the last couple of years, several pieces of legislation that would enhance the protection of children, and of course our job is not done by passing legislation, we have to build the institutions that allow these things to be properly monitored, and put in place, and I think that we are in that stage where we are ensuring that all our institutions are properly strengthened.” Dr Anthony said he is pleased that in terms of education, the government of Guyana has been spending a lot of money to educate children.
He pointed out that government’s heavy investment in the sector has resulted in Guyana achieving universal primary and secondary education, and more students are pursuing tertiary education.
Culture Ministry Permanent Secretary Alfred King said the celebration and recognition of International Day for Child Protection is being held at the most appropriate place, that is, at the institution best known for moulding and nurturing young creative minds.
He noted the world over people are recognising the importance of nurturing the next generation, and understanding the importance of creating the environment and experiences that would lead them to be positive contributors in society RUSAL representative Vladimir Permyakov said that the company is proud to be part of the competition, noting that children should be given the opportunity to be the builders of a modern and beautiful Guyana.
Russian Ambassador to Guyana Nickolay Smirnov said he is happy to celebrate the day with Guyana, pointing out that the occasion is widely celebrated in Russia. He said self-expression by children will “make us realise what is going on around them”. The ambassador added that according to psychologists, it is believed that children express their inner world in drawings, and one can tell of the problem they face and their aspirations.
After the ceremony, the children were invited to cut the ribbon after which they were given coloured chalks to draw on an allotted space, while their teachers encouraged them and the judges looked on.
The drawings had to portray the theme “May there always be sunshine”, and the students were given one hour to complete their pieces.
International Child Protection Day was established in November 1949 by the Women’s International Democratic Federation at a congress, and has been celebrated on June 1 ever since.
– Webster announces plans for national conversations on domestic violence
By Michael Younge
Government is moving to convene national conversations on domestic violence following the recent upsurge in the social scourge which saw at least nine women losing their lives at the hands of abusive spouses and partners.
The talks will aim to come up with more solutions and new avenues through which government, the private sector, and non-governmental organisations can work towards eliminating or reducing the scourge.
Human Services Minister Jenifer Webster made the announcement during an interview with Guyana Times International on Monday afternoon at her office. Webster, who condemned all of the recent acts of domestic violence, said it is time once again for all the stakeholders to meet and discuss the problem, with the aim of taking more proactive approaches towards the abuse and violence perpetrated against women.
The launch of the talks is set for June 27 at the International Convention Centre, and will see representatives from the Human Services Ministry, non-governmental organisations, the religious community, ordinary Guyanese, political parties, and civil society converging to be part of a think-tank about what else can be done to fight the growing social ill.
Minister Webster said that “no man has the right to beat, abuse, or take the life of a woman”, arguing that many women find themselves with their backs against the wall because they believe they have no choices.
Webster said there are menus of options available to women who are in abusive relationships, as she explained that they must speak out, leave, and report instances so that action can be taken.
“Domestic violence is a major problem, and I believe that we have to start to address the issue through behavioural change campaigns… we have to start too with our young boys and girls so as to change the values and morals they have inherited that make them resort to violence or abuse,” Webster admitted.
She expressed disappointment that more and more women were becoming “statistics”, sometimes suffering unbelievable forms of abuse which often result in death.
The human services minister shot down criticism that government has not been responding to the calls of abused women in a timely and appropriate manner as she disclosed several initiatives and programmes, which have been targeting the vulnerable group and perpetrators of the insidious act.
“In 2008, we launched the Stamp It Out campaign; in 2009, Breaking The Silence campaign; in 2010, you saw us making inroads with the launch of the Sexual Offences Act with more emphasis on rape and abuse; and in 2011, we continued our work in this respect,” she reiterated.
The minister said every day her ministry is offering counselling services and assistance to women who find themselves in abusive marriages, common-law unions and relationships. She admitted that her staff is critically involved, too, in providing the necessary sensitisation material and information for women to become empowered about their rights and responsibilities.
Webster issued a call for community policing groups, community leaders, and neighbours to become gatekeepers in the fight against domestic violence, urging them not to leave any instance unreported.
She said that while the legislation is in place, her ministry has long recognised the need for more administrative and institutional capacity building to take place.
“More needs to be done…we have done a lot, but we cannot lose sight of our ultimate target of emphasising the importance to respect our women folk… this battle is too critical to be lost at such a late hour and I will not lose focus… the perpetrators of every act must face the courts and must be brought to justice and made an example,” she stressed.
She also lauded the work of the Men’s Affairs Bureau (MAB), which has been working closely with males in society to assist them to understand their gender roles, and the need for them to resort to other forms of dispute and conflict resolution, apart from violence.
Domestic violence costing the state
The human services minister said “domestic abuse has a socio-economic cost”, which is placed on the shoulders of the state in most instances, as she referred to a host of cases where women are killed, the spouse or husband is remanded, and the children are left unsupervised and without any proper guidance and parental support.
“We have to provide for them in many cases and ensure that they receive the necessary care and support to lead healthy, happy lives,” she noted. “We continue to lose our valuable human resources when their lives are snuffed out by drunk partners, violent men, and jealous lovers… we cannot continue like this,” she emphasised.
She did not believe that those men who murdered women for frivolous reasons should be shown mercy, but must be held accountable to the law, while they benefit from the necessary rehabilitative services available behind bars and at mental institutions.
The Human Services Ministry has initiated a number of studies aimed at arriving at the drivers of domestic violence, understanding the male perspective, and looking at the far-reaching consequences of the scourge on human capital. She called on the police to continue to probe the matters before them in a timely manner, advising that her office remains ready to lend the necessary assistance.
The National Oversight Committee on Domestic Violence was reconvened a few weeks ago, and is earnestly working towards the completion of the regulations that would operationalise the Domestic Violence Act so it can take effect fully. “No victim must be denied access to justice, as I strongly believe that any crime committed against a woman is an abhorrent one that must be condemned by all,” she concluded.
A small but determined group strives for martial arts perfection
Coach, master and president of the Guyana Taekwondo Association, Ramjeet Ramphal has mastered the art of taekwondo, a Korean martial art, and is now passing on this form to his students.
In an interview with Guyana Times Sunday Magazine, Ramphal said he has been involved in martial arts since the 1970s. He was originally into karate but switched to taekwondo because it was a more developed sport and at that time gained Olympic status. He has done numerous courses overseas to master the art of taekwondo.
“In the late 60s and early 70s we were very influenced by the Chinese movies which prompted most to get into martial arts. Taekwondo is an aggressive but artistic sport as well. It is fully an electronic system in the protective pads which are placed on various parts of the body. The sensors in them show the impact of kicks. Fast high speed aerobatic kicks from the neck and there about score more points,” the master described.
Master Ramphal has entered numerous competitions, victoriously copping gold medals, and this legacy he is passing on to his students. He was selected to do judging for Pan American games, and was invited to be a referee at an Olympic game, but due to unforeseen circumstance he was forced to decline. He has also visited Korea, which he calls the “mecca” of taekwondo.
“We had a number of training sessions/courses offered by the International Olympics Committee and by the Guyana Olympics Association held in Mexico and Hong Kong, and many of my students have benefitted from these. One of my students is being offered to go on a coaching course in Montreal, Canada. I was offered it but I think it’s time for my students to take up the reign and develop themselves,” Master Ramphal revealed.
When asked what it takes to be a master of taekwondo, the coach said will, dedication, and strength. The training, he added, is a frustrating journey, so it is vital to have those attributes, which pay off in the end.
“It is my dedication to the sport that brought me through. I’m involved in other sports too like ballroom dancing, swimming and others. I excel more in and the reward to see my students develop is my motivation to continue,” he disclosed.
The master said there is a philosophical, spiritual and of course physical part of taekwondo and various degrees to the black belt.
“When a student is awarded the black belt it doesn’t stop there. He continues to follow a process of self-development, because there are various degrees in the black belt. So it is a continued learning process in taekwondo,” he mentioned.
Ramphal recently took a team with him to an open taekwondo championship held in Suriname. They have entered in such competitions for over eight years, and have had various degrees of success. This year, although they did not bring home the gold as they did in past years, Ramphal said the two silver medals and one bronze medal are sufficient because his students put up a valiant fight.
“I was very satisfied with what we got. We entered into a competition which had very advanced students from all around the world and who were black belts and higher, and to know the students who won the medals haven’t reached black belt stage as yet was satisfying to me. They showed no fear but stood up to their opponents, and for me that’s the making of a true champion,” Ramphal said appreciatively.
The students who participated said although they did not get the gold they put up a courageous effort and will train even more to get the gold in the next competition. Their goals are to get their black belts and to one day fight at the Olympics.
Ricardo Narine received third place; Brian Woolford placed second; Alim Azimullah, second degree black belt, did not win, but said he is training even harder to win next time; Wayne Ford also did not gain a victory, but said he is even more pumped to bring home the gold in his next competition; and 13-year-old Jan Strikas, the youngest of the competing group, said this is his first competition and although he lost, he hopes to better himself.
“Taekwondo has uplifted us morally, spiritually and has given us self-confidence. It is used in personal development and it is now a way of life for us. This I teach to my students, and by this will they be able to master the art of taekwondo,” Master Ramphal stated.
Simeon ‘Candyman’ Hardy maintained his unbeaten record, defeating the experienced, Howard ‘Battersea Bomber’ Eastman, in their main bout of the 23rd ProAm boxing card at the Cliff Anderson Sports Hall on Friday evening.
The 24-year-old Hardy, who is Guyana’s representative in the Welterweight division at the WBC Anniversary competition later this year, earned a Unanimous Decision win over the 4-year-old Eastman, a former European Middleweight champion.
In the other three professional fights, Iwan ‘Pure Gold’ Azore and James Walcott earned points victory over their respective opponents, while Rudolph Fraser and Cassius Matthews fought to a draw.
On the amateur side, Anthon Branch and Tyrone Lashley recorded 2-1 decision victories over Shaka Moore and Matthew Allensworth respectively; the young and gifted Michael April boxed and weaved his way to a comfortable 3-0 decision over Orin Bancroft, while the referee stopped the contest at 01: 28s in the second round in favour of Travis Fraser, who was punishing the lanky, Kevin McKenzie.
Hardy must have been confident of chalking up his ninth victory via the knockout route, but Eastman used every trick in the book, including head butts to his opponent’s mid section, to prevent same from occurring.
Both pugilists exchanged combinations and jabs of their own, with the intensity of the action rising to a level during the fourth round, in which Eastman refused to break from one of his many holds, even when told to do so by referee Franklyn Brisport.
He proceeded to throw several punches to the back of Hardy’s head. Hardy later said he felt a buzzing sound whenever that was done, resulting in Brisport issuing a warning and taking away a point, something Eastman could have ill-afford at the time.
Hardy upped the tempo after Eastman’s ‘unsportsmanlike conduct’, and unleashed several combinations to the head and body of his more illustrious opponent, who shook it off and responded with a few combinations of his own, using his jab as a lead.
The tenth and final round began with Eastman, who was spurred on by the vociferous crowd who chanted his name in every corner of the venue, unleashing several combinations to the body of Hardy, who to the surprise of many, withstood the attack like the true champion he confessed to be.
In the dying stages of the round, Hardy took over and delivered combinations at will, forcing a visibly shaken Eastman to the ropes as he sought to land his now famous ‘Chin Checker’ punch, which Eastman refused to encourage, forcing the judges to decide the winner.
They scored the bout 98-91, 96-94, 95-94, all in favour of Hardy, who agreed to hand Eastman a rematch, after the Berbician made the call for another shot at his young opponent.
Birmingham, England – Darren Sammy said it was important for West Indies to win the third and final Test against England, starting today (Thursday) at Edgbaston. The West Indies captain said his side had become frustrated with playing competitively in recent Tests without being able to carry on and complete victory.
“We need to learn to be competitive for longer [in matches],” said Sammy. “If you look at the Tests–not just the last two – but over the last 1 ½ years, it’s just that bad hour or that bad session we keep having that really takes us out of the game.
“If we could concentrate for longer periods, we would be better. We play four-day cricket at home and matches sometimes finish in 2 ½ or three days, so I guess our concentration span is not as long.
He added: “Playing against the No. 1-ranked Test side in the World, you have to be at your best throughout the five days. We have only managed to be at our best in patches.
“Hopefully, we can have longer sessions of play when we have England on the backfoot and we keep them there. It’s going to be tough, but we have confidence that we can execute.” Sammy added it would also be an important morale boost for the side to win a Test against the No. 1-ranked Test side in the World.
“We left the Caribbean knowing that beating England was going to be difficult,” he said.
“If we could win a Test here in England, it would be a good achievement for this team. We will remind the guys of this and hopefully we can play well over the five days to accomplish this.”
Sammy strongly hinted that Sunil Narine will make his Test debut. The mohawk-shawn off-spinner was an injury replacement for Kemar Roach, when the fast bowler returned home with a shin muscle injury.
“Everyone is calling him the ‘mystery’ spinner and he could come in and make an impact for us,” said Sammy.
“[England is] a difficult place for spinners to make their debut, but he has a lot up his sleeve and we’re backing him to make an impact. Hopefully, this is the start of something that could be a great Test career.
“He’s very exciting and all of the Caribbean are very excited about having him in international cricket. We’re very happy to have him here.” West Indies trail 0-2 in the Test series, following a five-wicket loss in the first Test at Lord’s in London and a nine- wicket defeat in the second Test at Trent Bridge in Nottingham.
Rain battled with sunshine when the Caribbean side trained at the match venue on Wednesday afternoon, with the players restricted to mostly indoor practice.
By Venessa Deosaran
In November 2010, former President Jagdeo created a small grant to stimulate a film making industry in Guyana.
He appointed Dr Paloma Mohamed, director of the Centre for Communication Studies at the University of Guyana, to manage the project, which was named ‘The President’s Film Endowment Project 2011’. Between January and July 2011, the experimental project has grown exponentially in its reach and potential through the collaboration of several other formal and informal partners – HED, USAID, Ohio University, the University of Guyana, The Theatre Guild of Guyana and several other private organizations.
The project, which was originally designed to fund 5 short films by five independent filmmakers, morphed into a larger 8-film project that took the filmmakers from conceptualization through script design, through production planning, shooting, editing and post production, to a world premiere July 2, 2011, and which former president Bharrat Jagdeo lifted the curtain.
There were no limits except those of cost placed on the filmmakers, 6 of whom have never made a film before.
In total, each film had a cast and crew of at least 30, all of whom went through a rigorous 3- month training programme, a course which would visually take about 3 years- of at least 12 hours a day including weekends.
The training was designed and delivered by award winning American film maker Brian Zahm MFA of Ohio University.
The result is an interesting mix of themes and genres, all of which are expected to reflect a rich and often minimized Guyanese culture back to Guyanese and hopefully to the wider world under the CineGuyana brand.
Since they premiered in Guyana in July 2011, the films have also premiered in New York, Washington, and London. Also, three of the films were shown at international films festivals in Barbados and Nigeria.
About the films
‘Hope’ is a 12-minute drama of the son of a Hindu priest who falls in love with a destitute Afro- Guyanese dancer.
‘The Backyard’ is a 14-minute film about a pop star that moves next door to a reclusive geek who makes her fall in love with him on Facebook. When she discovers this duplicity, sparks fly.
A family drama, ‘Three Cards’ tells of how far a father would go to save the life of his ailing daughter and how help can sometimes come from the most unexpected places. It is a 12-minute short film.
‘Tradition’, an 11-minute cultural fiction, looks at a family battling with personal loans, and the anger this brings while a young boy is trying to hold on to the traditions of his father and the yearnings of his heart.
A story of love and redemption, ‘Beached’ is a 10-minute drama of a man grappling with the loss of his wife following a fire that claimed everything from him.
‘Luck Beat Handsome’ is an 11-minute comedy of a ‘rastaman’ who is down on his luck. He plays the numbers of his bad events and is able to win and turn around his life and that of his family’s.
‘The Encounter’ is a 10-minute cam horror- comedy. A love starved murderess haunts a hotel room looking for redemption in her love of a living man.
‘The Bottle’ is a 9-minute fable. The daughter of a poor farmer finds the enchanted bottle which contains the Bacoo. The wily creature will grant the father any wish except he must have the young girl’s hand in marriage.
The total running time of all the movies is about 2 hours.