Friday, November 28, 2008

Over 110 persons tested for HIV at Amerindian ministry, hostel

Georgetown, Guyana - Staff from the Amerindian Affairs Ministry and the Amerindian Hostel on Princes Street seized the opportunity to know their status by submitting to the National Testing for HIV programme held there this week.

According to a Government Information Agency (GINA) press release large numbers of members of the public took the challenge to ‘Take action, Take the test’ at the Health Ministry’s urging. Co-ordinator of testing at the Health Ministry Autry Haynes told GINA on Wednesday that the Amerindian Affairs Ministry has been collaborating with it on a project aimed at sensitizing Amerindian communities about HIV/AIDS.

In keeping with this two testing sites were set up at the ministry and the hostel targeting the Amerindian population. “The response has been very heartening. Both the staff of the ministry and members of the public were very keen in testing,” he said. Community Development Officer at the Amerindian Affairs Ministry Clive Patterson also praised the initiative.

GINA said testing was scheduled for Monday and Tuesday at the two sites and due to the massive turnout at the hostel it was extended to Wednesday. Over 110 persons were tested at the two sites.

The ministry declared November 17- 21 National Week of Testing under the theme ‘Take action, Take the test.’ Over 200 locations have been set up region wide to facilitate it. The initiative was undertaken by the National AIDS Programme Secretariat in its quest to test 10,000 people this year, GINA said.

Source: Stabroek News

Monday, November 10, 2008

CARIBBEAN: Region Sees Sympathetic Ally in Obama

PORT OF SPAIN, Trinidad, Nov 5 (IPS) - They sat glued to their television sets as the new president-elect of the United States, Barack Obama, during his acceptance speech in the early hours of Wednesday, made reference to those listening "in far off places" around the world.

As they danced, honked car horns and used their mobile phones to communicate with friends and relatives not only in the United States, but throughout the region, Caribbean nationals acted as though Obama had won the presidency of the entire English-speaking Caribbean and not the United States.

"If he (Obama) continues in the inspirational vein of the election campaign, it could mean a change in the world, especially in how the U.S. relates to the rest of the world," said Chris Zacca, president of the Private Sector Organisation of Jamaica (PSOJ).

The respected Caribbean journalist Rickey Singh suggested that the U.S. has undergone a "cultural and political metamorphosis, undoubtedly and ironically partly influenced by eight years of the ideology and governance politics of George W Bush".

"Let therefore, all Caribbean citizens, not just those of the diaspora in the USA who will have voted for him, join president elect Obama in scoring one for a resounding triumph over racial bigotry," Singh wrote.

Caribbean leaders have unashamedly expressed open support for the first ever African American to be elected to the White House, and in St. Kitts-Nevis, where Prime Minister Dr. Denzil Douglas is due to face a general election soon, the ruling party staged a "dream is real" outdoor rally that allowed thousands of citizens to view the U.S. election results in a festive atmosphere.

"The St. Kitts-Nevis Labour Party was built on the exact same principles as Barack Obama's campaign to empower the working-class and the downtrodden," the party said in an advertisement, urging citizens to "celebrate the long-fought dreams of men like the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King," a reference to the iconic U.S. civil rights leader.

Barbados Prime Minister David Thompson, who has extended an invitation to Obama to visit his Caribbean island to recuperate from the arduous election campaign, said he was "thrilled" at the result.

"This is a dream come true for millions of Americans -- and especially African Americans -- who were anxious to see their country redeemed from an unflattering image emanating from a number of factors, including its civil rights history," said Thompson, who was the only regional leader present at Obama's presidential nomination earlier this year.

The president of Guyana, which in recent months has had a public squabble with Washington over efforts to eradicate the illegal drug trade, said the victory of the Democratic Party's candidate over Republican John McCain was "well earned and historic".

"We in Guyana are very excited about the prospect of change in the United States...and we look forward to working with him in the future," President Bharrat Jagdeo told the state-owned Guyana Chronicle newspaper.

"I don't think any president of the United States of America will have the kind of empathy that he will have with people from different countries and poor people because he understands it firsthand, and that is why I think he will understand the difficulties that small, developing countries face," he had earlier told reporters.

The 47-year-old Democratic senator from Illinois, who will take the oath of office on Jan. 20 next year as the 44th president of the United States, sealed his victory on Tuesday, winning 349 electoral college votes against 163 for McCain.

As the new commander in chief, Obama moves into the Oval Office as leader of a country that is almost certainly in recession, and fighting two long wars, one in Iraq, the other in Afghanistan.

But he may take comfort from the fact that fellow Democrats rode his coattails to gains in both houses of Congress, toppling Republican incumbents and winning open seats alike.

The Caribbean will look to engage Obama very soon, and according to Caribbean Community (CARICOM) chairman Baldwin Spencer, "We will want to see that Barack Obama will seek to develop a more engaging relationship with the Caribbean and indeed the Western hemisphere."

Spencer told IPS that the Caribbean would raise outstanding issues including trade, the question of the deportation of criminals back to the Caribbean, as well as the concept of development "and where the Caribbean should fit on the United States agenda going forward".

But the Caribbean is mindful of the domestic problems facing Obama, as well as his often repeated statements that his new administration would most likely adopt a new position regarding relations with Cuba, which is grappling with a more than four-decade trade embargo that Washington imposed on the communist state soon after former president Fidel Castro came to power.

Spencer, who is also the prime minister of Antigua and Barbuda, reminded IPS that in September, when he addressed the United Nations General Assembly, he had called on the new U.S. president "to seek to change the policy that they have towards Cuba and I am looking for President-elect Obama to in fact do that."

"I believe that it will be a positive development not only for Cuba but for the entire Caribbean and the hemisphere on a whole, so I would certainly think that all of us would be pleased if President Obama would move reasonably swiftly to begin to engage in such a positive manner which would significantly improve relationship with Cuba and indeed the hemisphere," he added.

The Jamaica Observer newspaper said Obama's victory "has stirred in mankind a wellspring of hope that, if it endures, will light the way to a future few dared to envision.

"In its magnitude, the triumph of Barack Obama eclipsed the momentous, seemingly unmatchable release from Robben Island prison of Nelson Mandela and his coronation as president of South Africa, and the landing of man on the moon," the paper said in an editorial on Wednesday.


Author: Peter Richards
Source: IPS

Saturday, November 8, 2008

President urges Iwokrama students to address local demands of climate change

GUYANA - President Bharrat Jagdeo last Friday urged students who recently graduated from an Iwokrama Training Programme to make a special effort to address the demands of climate change locally and to help in the sustainable development of the country’s rich natural resources.

The Head of State was at that time speaking at a pre-graduation gathering of the participants who completed a two-and-a-half-year course in Natural Resource Management for Guyana’s Protected Areas Systems. The meeting was held at the International Convention Centre.

The training programme was funded by the German Government and the participants were trained in areas such as ranger training, tour guiding and collaborative management. Following the meeting with the President, a graduation ceremony was held at the Theatre Guild for the 127 students who successfully completed the course.

During his address, President Jagdeo also called specifically for greater conservation of the nation’s forestry resources. He said that forests have an important part to play in addressing the problems posed by climate change since they were the source of 20% of the world’s greenhouse gases. He said that while cutting down Guyana’s forests could be profitable, the government has decided to preserve the trees.

Jagdeo went on to explain some recent comments he made about the local forestry industry while he was in the United Kingdom, which he says have been misrepresented. The President explained that he was willing to deploy the nation’s entire forest in the cause of averting climate change but emphasized that in doing this he would not be trading sovereignty of the forests nor is he prepared to have the development of the locals being put at risk.

According to the President, the funds gained from the preservation of these trees will be used to benefit the village. He said that before this decision was made he had consulted with the Toshaos of the Amerindian villages and they had signaled their approval.

Meanwhile, Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of Iwokrama International, Dane Gobin said that the training was very good since it better prepared the nation “to manage our forest in a sustainable way in order to mitigate the negative effects of climate change, something which currently threatens the international community.” He further stated that the graduates would take this learning back to their institutions and communities, which will result in an enhanced capacity at the national level.

This newspaper was told that some of those who have graduated have been employed by Iwokrama while others are expected to be employed at local tourist resorts.

One such person who is seeking a job is Region Nine resident Andrew Lawrence who was trained as a ranger. He said that he started the course because he needed a job and thought that the training would provide him with an opportunity to become qualified. He said he found the course to be extremely useful and he now hopes to obtain a job close to his home.

Article source: Stabroek News

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Arawak Oral Tradition from Guyana: Always Be Content

An expedition was arranged by a house-master for his relatives and friends, who were to come and join him on the coast and hunt sea-birds. Before starting, they all made quakes for collecting the birds' eggs, it being then the proper season, and eggs always good to eat.

After they had gathered sufficient eggs to fill their baskets, they proceeded with their bows and arrows to shoot birds, and were very successful. The old house-master's son-in-law, however, went off by himself in quite another direction, where there was plenty of dry timber and shot only woodpeckers, of which he brought back plenty. When they got home again, the wives made cassiri for them. The old man and his friends gave to the son-in-law of their big stock of various sea-birds, and the latter gave them woodpeckers in exchange.

In the course of conversation, they asked why he had shot only land-birds when he was supposed to have come out to shoot sea-birds. He replied that he did not mind whether they had come from land or sea, so long as they were birds, and that he was quite content to eat one or the other.

Source: An Inquiry into the Animism and Folk-Lore of the Guiana Indians, Walter E. Roth, from the Thirtieth Annual Report of the Bureau of American Ethnology, 1908-1909, pp. 103-386, Washington D.C., 1915.

Saturday, November 1, 2008

Arawak Oral Tradition from Guyana: How The Lazy Man Was Cured

This is another crab story; but the hero of it was distinguished by his laziness, and not by his ignorance. A large party of people went out in a big boat to catch crabs: every one of them had twenty quakes aboard, and as they rested at each stopping-place, they still continued plaiting them. You see, they had nothing to distract their attention, having left their wives at home to make the paiwarri ready for their return.

At one of the inlets where they put in for a rest on the way down, they saw growing close to the banks a small kokerite palm, with a large bunch of ripe fruit. Having cut off the bunch, they put it into the boat, shoved off, and then started eating. The hero of this story asked them to save all the seeds, after they had removed the fruity parts, and let him have them.

This they did, and on the night before their arrival at the place agreed upon for catching crabs, he filled all his quakes with them. Next morning the others landed to hunt, but this fellow refused to join them, and remained in the boat, not even putting his feet into the water. He knew well enough how to hunt the crabs, but was too lazy, and counted on receiving contributions from all his companions. These, on the contrary, were equally determined that he should not have any: they filled all their own quakes, returned to the boat, and finally reached home. It was night when they got there, and they turned into their hammocks. Next morning, they called their wives to fetch the crabs from the place where they had left them at the water-side.

The wife of the individual who had brought back the kokerite seeds, asked him where his crabs were: he told her that she would find them at the bottom of the heap and that she would have to wait until all the other women had cleared away theirs. She did as she was instructed and, carrying the quakes to her mother, let her know that these were the kind of crabs that her husband had brought home with him. The old woman thought much, but merely said, "Put them into a big pot and boil them on the fire, till the shells crack." In the meantime, each of the other women gave the naturally disappointed wife one quakeful of crabs each, but conditionally, on her promising that she would give none to her husband. And thus, with one exception, they all started on a hearty meal of crabs and paiwarri.

The old mother took a calabash full of the cooked kokerite seeds, and placing it before her good-for-nothing son-in-law, bade him eat. This was obliged to do, even if only out of mere shame, because he was so hungry, and knew that no one would give him of their crabs. At any rate, the lesson cured him of his laziness, and on the next occasion that he went out hunting, he brought home to his poor wife crabs and not kokerite seeds.

Source: An Inquiry into the Animism and Folk-Lore of the Guiana Indians, Walter E. Roth, from the Thirtieth Annual Report of the Bureau of American Ethnology, 1908-1909, pp. 103-386, Washington D.C., 1915