giving up. starting over. knowing the difference. knowing when and how to.

pulled out tomato plants

i pulled up these tomato plants the other day. i’d been watering them religiously every day for months, and they’d been teasing me with lots of yellow flowers, but none bore fruit. the flowers just got brown, withered up, and dropped off. the plants seemed healthy otherwise. i got my hopes up every time i saw a flower, only to have them dashed. i tried moving them around the yard, to spots with different amounts of sunlight. i tried watering more and then less. still, no tomatoes. yesterday i had enough. time to start over. it wasn’t easy tho, to pull up the plants. they had been growing for months and the roots were strong. i pulled one, then two, then paused. maybe if i just waited some more, maybe this time, the flowers would stay on and bear fruit. maybe, or maybe not. i’ll never know. i just had enough of months of fruitless wanting and waiting.

get up from the table when love no longer being served

i will give no more of my time, attention, and energy to things which do not feed my body and soul in return. the new seeds i set have burst out. om

new tomato seedlings


Questions about teenage pregnancy in Guyana

This column is dedicated to Nikacia Allen, who died at age 17, leaving behind three girl children.


Let’s assume that you are present on a regular basis in the same home as your child/children, grandchildren, niece, or other young female relative/s, that you are paying attention, and that you have enough of a relationship with them to be aware of the basics of their lives. What do you do then, when this 12, 13, 14, or 15-year-old child (or a ten or 11-year-old for that matter) comes to you and tells you that she’s pregnant? Or when someone else tells you? Or you notice her belly growing? Do you abuse and/or beat her? Do you kick her out of your house before she ‘contaminates’ the other children? Do you beat up yourself (and/or your partner) for having failed as a parent/caregiver? Do you think it’s ok because you survived, so she will too?

Do you wish you’d talked to her more about sex and love and relationships so she would have made better decisions? Or do you just not know what to say, because nobody ever talked to you about those things? Do you hold your head and cry because you’re sad and angry and tired that you had to always be working and couldn’t be at home enough to guide and/or protect her? Do you pray for divine intervention or seek outside assistance from relevant authorities and organizations? Or do you hide, ignore and avoid talking about the issue with others because you are ashamed? Do you explain all the available options to her – including abortion and adoption?

Do you try to find out who violated her? Do you go find them and beat them or do you negotiate some deal with them which may or may not include them marrying her (with your permission)? Do you report the incident to the police and fight for justice, no matter how long it takes? Do you comfort her and tell her that you love and will support her no matter what? Or do you just wash your hands of the whole matter and leave her to try on her own?

What do you do if you’re a policeman/woman and a parent/caregiver comes to report the statutory rape of their underage girl child? Do you immediately arrest the perpetrator, or do you delay, giving him time to escape? Do you treat the child who has been victimized with sensitivity, or do you humiliate her more? Do you let the matter drop if the child or family tell you they don’t want to pursue the matter? Does whether or not you take action depend on who the victim or perpetrator is, how much power they do or don’t have, and/or how much money passes your way? Do you take advantage of the situation to further violate a vulnerable girl in your custody, or do you look after her as carefully as if she was your own flesh and blood?

What do you do if you’re a nurse or other healthcare provider and a pregnant, underage girl child comes to you for medical treatment? Do you provide comfort, care, and information, or do you shame her for ‘tekking man’ and rebuke her for crying out in pain during childbirth since she ‘didn’t cry when she was having her fun,’ so you don’t want to hear any crying now? Do you bring in the police and child protection authorities, or do you turn a blind eye and just send her back to wherever she came from with no questions asked, just two Panadol, and her newborn baby? Do you test her for HIV or provide the prophylactic medication? Do you teach her how to protect herself from sexually transmitted infections and explain how to prevent additional unwanted pregnancies? Do you provide her with birth control and make sure she knows how to use it properly and where to go for more, if/when necessary? Or do you think that if you talk to a young person about sex and/or provide any information to them that you will be encouraging them to engage in it?

What happens when there is no sex education in schools, when only abstinence is preached, and when contraceptives are not made freely and easily accessible to youth in all regions and communities of Guyana? What choice does the underage schoolgirl have when abortion is not explained to her as a reasonable option but a sin, and when doctors in the public sector (are allowed to) refuse to provide terminations of pregnancies even though that procedure has been legalized for two decades?

What message is sent when boys/adult men who impregnate underage girls are allowed to get away scot-free nine times out of ten, with no/only light punishment, while pregnant schoolgirls and teenage mothers are prevented from completing their schooling?

What impact does the daily consumption of songs, movies, and other media with sexist messages have on the shaping of mentalities, expectations, and societal norms? What’s wrong with schoolchildren memorizing, internalizing, and repeating degrading song lyrics instead of learning their history, science, language arts, mathematics, and the basics of communication, self-care, and civic responsibility? What do you expect when parents/caregivers are absent, overworked, tired, unaware, or unable to communicate meaningfully with their offspring?

What happens when self-love is absent/unknown, when people think that love can only come from outside sources, and when the difference between sex and love isn’t known? What is the result when there aren’t enough protective mechanisms in place, when the existing systems are broken, when there’s not enough desire, energy, funding, or political will to try and make repairs, when ruin and exploitation becomes the norm?

How healthy is a society without equity and justice? What kind of community and nation do you want to live in/leave for your children? How does change come about? Who is responsible for creating, finding and implementing solutions and ensuring efficacy and accountability? Even if you don’t have any children of your own, what is keeping you from acting?

Sherlina can be contacted at

Diary of a mothering worker. October 13, 2015


Post 210.

Those very struggles established in slavery and indentureship have not yet been won for all Caribbean women. Sisterhood and empowerment are a commitment to their individual and collective achievement, and that commitment is the fire and hope of Caribbean feminism.

Let us take the words offered by this movement while also embracing Caribbean feminism’s radical history and intent, its lessons and wisdom, its analyses and aims. Let us love ourselves and each other, building community in ways that claim our place in continuing its legacy. When it comes to hundreds of years of our region’s women desiring and labouring for change, let us feel no fear or shame.

The feminist movement still keeps this controversial label because this is the only movement in all of modern time that has unapologetically placed  women’s real issues first, not because addressing them helps to improve the economy, the family or the…

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these crazy guyana streets #2

mark jacobs lives!

I’ve seen him before
many times in this same exact spot
he’s lying on an oatmeal crisp cardboard bed today
where is he from? how did he end up here? family? friends? children? what’s his name?
it’s 8am and the sun is rising hot
he sleeps on with pedestrians passing through his bedroom without a bother
dont know what he does at night but he’ll he here for a while
western end of parliament bordered by the sewer infested drain
black short pants
left side tattered slipper and what looks eerily similar to an apnu-afc armband
change is good if you can afford it
the guyana police will wake him and his dorm mates up if there’s parliament and shuffle him on for a time
otherwise he just sleeps
a temporary escape from the madness of it all
rather interesting slash telling in his temporary flight (into sanity?) he…

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Groundings Continues: Animal Farm edition

“How ah look?” I asked Nichola as I prepared to leave the office with the salt bag slung over my shoulder. “Well, some people might think yuh run off and might want knock yuh and tek ‘way yuh computer, but at least the bag clean and it white, so it match your shirt.. And maybe somebody will feel sorry for you and give you a drop..” On that hopeful note, I went on my way. I’d left a backpack full of books by the sweetie and cigarette lady at the corner of Camp and Robb St, but had come to the Red Thread office to collect some more donated books for the Groundings. The salt bag was ½ full of books; on my other shoulder I lugged my laptop. The sun was hot hot as usual, but I had had a fortifying ital lunch of rice n pigeon peas, callaloo, pumpkin, bora and chunks from a rastaman at Bourda Market, washed down with a Banks at the former Jerries, and the shooting back pains as I walked had subsided, so I was good to go. Actually, I was still tired and sleep deprived from a busy week, but I was the one who had called the Groundings, so I had to show up. The two other Groundings stalwarts- Vidya and Raydha- weren’t sure if they were going to be able to attend, so, again, I had to show up. Nobody felt sorry enough for me to give me a drop, but I lightened my load a little by giving a book to my vendor friend who sells snacks across from the church on Hadfield st, and greased my conversational gears by giving a Whim update to two old timers by the gambling spot. By the time I reached the Groundings location, I was more ready. My backpack was exactly where I’d left it, as I had known it would be.

free books

Another vendor girl friend of mine who sells on Regent st was the first to pass by. She wanted to know if she would be getting a salary increase too. She augments her vending earnings by working part time at Stabroek News, folding the paper, earning $1300 a night. “We leave there late late sometimes,” she said, “and when other staff people don’t show up, that puts more stress on us.” We talked about public vs private sector then she picked up some books. She was taking them for her sister and niece. She asked me if I knew anyone who taught English. “For a child or a big person?” I asked her. For me, she said. She didn’t finish school. She folds the newspaper but can’t really read it. Raydha showed up at that point, diverting my attention and my vendor friend left. I write this to remind myself to pass by her spot tomorrow and set up a time to sit and read with her. That she felt comfortable enough to share that and ask for help speaks volumes; I love helping people who’re motivated to help themselves.

Lots of schoolchildren were passing by. A quartet of boys from St. Mary’s lounged on the railing next to us. Raydha valiantly started reading from Animal Farm to them, but they were more interested in checking out the girls passing by than interacting with her. It’s hard to compete/divert teenage hormones, which I’m sure she’s familiar with, as a teacher.. Hah. A grandmother stopped with her teenage daughter in tow, with the grandmother trying again, rather unsuccessfully, to divert her granddaughter’s attention to the books instead of the teenage boys. While grandma perused the books, the smiling girl played hide and peek from behind a post with the boys. “Hello- you never see boys before? They don’t have boys at your school?” I try to say it jokingly, but her behavior was irksome. And/or I’m just getting old. Grandma ends up choosing a book about finding the right career, “for her,” she says, and we gyaff about the salary increase while the hide and peek game continues. Granny is disgusted by the increase. I tell her about our picket plans for next week and she promises to attend. I wish, in retrospect, that we had made flyers or handbills to give out, but a- that takes money and b- many people can’t read. I think I’ll still do some for next time tho, cuz I know how easy it is to forget things without a reminder.

raydha reading from animal farm

Anyway, soon the boys drift off and a couple teenage girls stop; we have an actual conversation. They have opinions about the salary increase; one’s mom is a head mistress and she doesn’t think it’s fair, her daughter reports. They are Afro and Indo Guyanese and seem like good friends. I’m reminded of them later when a young Afro-Guyanese woman asks to touch my hair, saying that she’s never touched an Indo-Guyanese person’s hair before (not counting weaves). This is someone who was born, raised, and lived in Georgetown all her life. Her statement flabbergasted me. I let her run her fingers through my hair, warning her tho, that I hadn’t shampooed it in a while..

Anyway, back to Groundings. The Afro-Indo couple of friends want to know what we’re doing, about this whole free book thing. I counter by asking them if they’ve ever heard of Walter Rodney. They know that he was a politician, that he’s dead, and that there was some investigation going on not so long ago. I ask if they know how he died. “His ex-wife stabbed him!” one of the girls exclaims excitedly. Thankfully her friend corrects her and my hope in the youth of today is resurrected. Another young woman stops and asks if we have any romance novels. We don’t, but she picks up the #1ladies detective agency story that we have after I tell her that it’s set in Botswana (I don’t tell her tho, that it’s written by a white man heh). At first she says the increase is a good idea, but she’s talking about an increase for public servants, not the politicians (although they are public servants as well actually..) She changes her tune as soon as she understands the real situation. Without any prompting from me, she gestures to the big big construction going on behind us, and talks about the rich getting richer while the poor continue to struggle and suffer. Another young woman says that she wants to be successful in business so that all Guyanese would know her name. There are other ways to get famous, you know, I tell her. Look at Nelson Mandela, Gandhi, Mother Theresa, etc. I’m not an activist, she sniffs.

schoolgirls and pilesA big woman and big man stop to gyaff. The woman says how they should be happy and take whatever they are given but again- she’s talking about the public servants, not the politicians. I try to explain the difference- that the politicians are the ones calling the shots, and again, she too changes her tune when she gets the full understanding. It becomes increasingly clear that many Guyanese are not really following the situation, or are confusing issues. This is troubling, as that is exactly how dictatorships flourish- not necessarily by bashing people’s heads, but simply by keeping them ignorant. I’m glad now to be Grounding.

apnu-afc ya lie

A guy who I’d seen a couple of days earlier in the ‘bush’ passes with his young daughter. He had impressed me then as a hard worker and now, seeing him with his daughter, he impressed me further as a good dad. I’m sorry that I don’t have any children’s books to share, but hopefully that will be remedied next month when the barrel arrives.. Another father, with a son this time, also stop. The boy chooses the book with a picture of the pyramids on the cover. Again, I inform them about the picket plans for next week. Another student, from Bishops’ this time, stops. He wants to be a scientist when he grows up, a chemist, he says,. I encourage him and ask his opinion on the salary increase. Unfair, obviously, he says. Our teachers need to be paid better. Harmon, Trotman, Granger- are you listening? From the mouths of babes..

Earlier, another little boy had stopped and picked up the ‘Explore Guyana’ magazine with the picture of Kaieteur Falls on the cover. He liked Maths, he said, and wanted to be a soldier when he grew up. “A soldier,” I exclaimed! “Why?” “To defend my country,” he said exuberantly, then ran away before I could tell him that he better study Spanish. Couple more teachers stop by, including one who teaches at Golden Grove. She picks up two books, for two of her students, she says, who like to read. She’s planning on giving them the books as prizes. I am glad to have a hand in this, however tangentially. Ms. Golden Grove is familiar with ‘Animal Farm.’ The students have to read it in Grade 7, she says. It’s a good book. The Afro-Indo schoolgirls are still hanging around, listening to the gyaff. They’d never heard of Animal Farm so I ask the teacher if she would summarize it for them. It’s about power, she says, and how it corrupts. This teacher though, does not condemn the politician public pay increase. She is happy to have gotten a higher-than-usual increase and while she only believes in God, she’s confident that next year, she and her teacher pals will get the full 20% as promised..

teachers with animal farm

Some more female students stop by and again we engage in a spirited conversation about the salary increase. Clearly unfair, they said unanimously.A couple more teachers, with decades of combined experience stop by. Vidya shows up at this point and engages them for a little while. The bits and pieces of the gyaff which I hear has to do with the numbers of boys vs girls in school. There is a serious problem indeed; has been this way for years. The books are almost all gone at this point in time. It’s only been an hour. The teachers say they have books of their own that they need to get rid of, that they will bring to the next Groundings. We encourage them to attend the pickets next week as well.

vidya gyaffing w teachers

A young mother asks for one of the two copies of Animal Farm that I have been reading from. She reads to her daughter regularly, even though she’s only 18 months old and doesn’t understand everything. I crack up, especially when I remember that a Marxist website had Animal Farm listed as a ‘fairy tale for children’. It’s great tho, when I hear things like that, and meet people who restore my faith in humanity. I give her one of the copies and we make plans to meet up when she finishes reading it for her to tell me what she thinks about it. I leave to go get the snow cone with condensed milk that I’ve been craving since the day before. All in all, another successful Groundings! Join us next time.

Water is life!

Water is life. That is the slogan of the Guyana Water Inc., and a truer slogan there never has been. Water is necessary for all living things to survive, grow, and function properly. The body of an average human being is about 60% water, with water responsible for numerous vital tasks that maintain our health and wellbeing. Water is an essential building block for the cells of the body, acts as a ‘shock absorber’ for our brain and spine, transports oxygen and nutrients throughout the body, flushes out waste, keeps our joints lubricated, and regulates temperature. If there is insufficient water for any of these functions, our health would be seriously compromised.

water n human body
Because water is being constantly used up by the body, it must constantly be replaced. We have all heard the advice to drink eight glasses of water a day. While each individual’s water intake will vary depending on their activity level, environment, and health status, the fact is that while the average human could live for up to three weeks without consuming any food, without water, death will occur in less than five days.

Outside of the body, about 70% of the surface of our planet Earth- our only home- is covered by water (mostly salt; not suitable for drinking although many plants and animals can and do utilize salt water). The actual amount of water on Earth is quite small however; if the Earth was the size of a basketball, the total amount of water in/on it would be approximately the size of a ping pong ball.

global-water-volume-fresh-largeOutside of Earth- one of the main things that astronomers look for when they search the galaxies are signs of water, for that is an indication that life as we know it may exist somewhere else. Nothing can exist without water- no plant or animal. Even if these things are grown/bred indoors, in laboratories, they still need to be provided with water. In short, the importance of water cannot be overstated; water really is life!

We also need water to clean ourselves and our surroundings. Sanitation is key to public health; in fact many of the advances in public health which saved millions of lives had nothing to do with fancy medical ‘cures’ but simple provision of proper sanitation and hygiene to communities. There are many recent examples of how harmful the lack of proper sanitation can be- the cholera epidemic in our Caricom neighbor, Haiti, which infected hundreds of thousands of Haitians and killed almost ten thousand people- being a clear case in point.

porta potty- haiticlean water, shitting in it

Guyana is known as the ‘land of many waters’, and we have our constant battle with flooding on the coastland. Yet, lack of water has long been a problem for many communities in Guyana. In places that lack potable water, residents are forced to travel far distances away to collect water and/or to pay private companies to deliver water to them. Even in households that are provided with water, that’s usually not for all 24 hours of the day. Water storage tanks are a common sight in the yards of Guyana, even on the grounds of the fanciest houses and hotels, as are buckets in our kitchens and bathrooms. And even when water is available, doubts persist about its safety and cleanliness, forcing many to purchase drinking water.

10931210_10153225295469003_8236516018140667159_npeople fetching water10522154_10152923351174003_2487393939590210373_nThe fact is that many people- including the very entities responsible for providing the Guyanese populace with safe and clean water- seem not to understand fully or really take seriously the ‘water is life’ adage. Wastage of water, for one, occurs on a regular basis. Taps are allowed to run unattended in many households and other settings, leaks often go days and weeks without fixing, and public education and attention to water conservation is virtually non-existent. This, even though it hasn’t rained in Georgetown for several weeks.

In other regions of the country (Lethem specifically), there has been no rain for months; wells are drying up. In some parts of the world, near and far, drought is already a reality; reports are that the Caribbean region is currently experiencing its worse drought in five years. Cuba, Jamaica, Trinidad and Tobago, Puerto Rico, Grenada, Barbados, and St. Lucia are all sweltering. Farms are producing less, water is being rationed, fires are blazing out of control, and people are sweating. Disaster looms. Drought impacts not just the agricultural sector but also people’s health and ability to earn a living and take care of themselves and their families.

dry cracked dirtOur local struggles with waste management, insufficient sanitation services, and inadequate regulation of individual and industrial activities have also led to the pollution of our waterways from a variety of sources. People continue to dump any and everything down the drains, into the trenches, creeks, and ocean without thinking about possible impacts on aquatic life forms and others using the water (swimmers, fisherfolk, etc).

Mining operations have long been some of the worst large scale polluters- releasing cyanide, mercury, and other toxic chemicals in the rivers and negatively affecting the lives and health of numerous indigenous communities in the hinterland that depend on fishing and the rivers for their livelihood. Oil drilling- with its constant spills and contamination- looms in our future. There are many Guyanese who welcome these activities for the economic benefits they might bring without paying any (or enough, imo) attention to the dangerous and toxic long-term impacts of these undertakings. Regulation, inspection, and enforcement of laws protecting people and the environment is lax and non-existent in many instances, with widespread bribery and corruption in this sector allowing many violators and violations to be overlooked.

mining devastationThe fact is that unless we become more aware and serious about water conservation and pollution prevention, our water problems could quickly and easily become much worse. We need better laws, committed and consistent enforcement, as well as much more public education and awareness raising on this issue. Water is life yes, and crucial to our existence. Let’s remember that always and act accordingly.

Sherlina can be contacted at

New GPC crime syndicate gets $45+ million drug contracts from APNU AFC govt

this new administration spinning their own rope…

mark jacobs lives!

This crime syndicate has been involved in multi billion dollar fraud against this country for over a decade.
they owe hundreds of millions to the state for not delivering drugs and other financial crimes
they were just listed in the paper and warned by the minister of health

This syndicate is most likely partially owned bt bhareat jagdeo. And there is plenty more. So having said all that, maybe APNU AFC has a rational explanation for this

New Guyana Pharmaceutical Corporation Inc (New GPC Inc) was among three pharmaceutical companies to which cabinet gave its no objection for the procurement of medical consumables for standard and technical services. This was announced by Minister of Governance Raphael Trotman on Wednesday at this week’s post-Cabinet press briefing held at the Office of the President.
Global Health Services Limited – a contract for $8,072,547; Caribbean Medical supplies – two contracts for $70,483,202 and…

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Agriculture month in guyana kicks off with prayer – draw me nearer precious lawd

exorcists apply within asap pls

mark jacobs lives!

You know I’ve been watching these joksters in the political directorate of our agri sector for a number of years.

I’ll keep most of what I really wanna say private but it jus really effin irks me to see central Islamic organization of guyana and folks from central Assemblies of God headlining an agri event.

Farmers in this scuntry have had to endure a whole lotta ignorance the past two decades that we now import black eye from Belize and plantain chips from Costa Rica and not forgetting the latest hit. Coconut water from Vietnam.

If this is the direction they’re headed in, I hope the next item on agri month festivities is demon exorcism. We need to get rid of the jumbies downpressing farmers and the agri sector.

I said it dot com and I thank you.
run tell dat

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Diary of a mothering worker. September 29, 2015

“the definitive global politics of a generation” indeed..


Post 208.

As Ziya rolled in sandy ebb and flow at Maracas’ shoreline, a handful of friendly girls suddenly encircled us with a swirl of brown arms and legs. They drew Zi in, reaching for her hand, and asking her to go jump deeper into the waves.  A few brought Styrofoam cups to scoop up water and sand, throw in the air, and catch as they swept by amidst incoming foam. ‘Make sure not to leave the cups in the ocean’, I gently cautioned, ‘they will pollute the sea. ‘Auntie, what does pollute mean?’ one of them asked. She was eight years old, and the biggest of their brood.

How could children going to primary school not have encountered the idea of pollution? What are they being taught is the meaning of taking our very national identity as a twin-island republic from the blue, Caribbean sea? In an era when…

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Disabled Guyanese deserve equal attention, opportunity, and rights as all others

There are a lot of ‘invisible’ people in our society – people who, for one reason or another, don’t get the same level of attention as others. These people still live, love, and exist like other Guyanese; they just do so on the edges, sidelines, and cracks of ‘formal’ society. People with disabilities are one such ‘invisible’ group in Guyana. Disabilities include both physical and mental deficits, some of which may be more obvious than others. Some people are born with a disability while others develop/occur later in life due to illness, injury, accident, or the aging process. The fact is that disability is part and parcel of our existence – a condition that, in the blink of any eye, could afflict any one of us who might currently not be experiencing any disability.

People with disabilities in Guyana still face a great deal of challenges on a daily basis, more so than other Guyanese. Yes, there is a National Commission on Disability. Yes, there are schools for children with special needs. Yes, Guyana has signed numerous international treaties regarding the rights of disabled people. Yes, some progress has been made over the years; one positive change has been a shift to a rights-based approach instead of the limited medical model that had prevailed previously. However, a great deal of work still needs to be done to provide Guyanese with disabilities with the best quality of life possible.

Part of the problem lies in how people with disabilities are viewed by others. Some scorn or avoid them, unable or unwilling to acknowledge them as full-fledged members of society still. Some are uncomfortable around others with disabilities, unsure of how to act or treat them. Some are caring and empathetic, but often that’s not enough. Too many Guyanese with disabilities continue to suffer disproportionately, unable to access education, healthcare, employment, and other social goods.

Children with physical disabilities – such as blindness, deafness, musculoskeletal disorders etc- usually have no mental disability and can perform just as well or better than their peers academically. This should be obvious and not need stating, but unfortunately some people still hold the uninformed belief that a disability in one area means that disabilities exist in other spheres as well. Training of teachers on how to successfully handle students with physical disabilities, and how to integrate them into mainstream classrooms is woefully lacking. A national study on disability done in 2005 by the National Commission on Disability found that almost half – 42% – of all persons with disabilities under age 16 had never attended school.

The schools that do exist for children with disabilities are all on the coastland, leaving affected children from the hinterland regions without anywhere to turn (unless they make the long, expensive journey to town, which many cannot afford). In fact, this study found that up to 80% of disabled persons in the hinterland had not been able to access any treatment or therapy at all!

Mental disabilities can be more complex to deal with than physical deficits in some instances, with a wide spectrum of conditions falling under this umbrella label. Again, unfortunately, little training exists in Guyana to provide teachers, caregivers, and family members with the skills needed to properly cope and interact with such individuals.

As such, persons with mental deficits are often ignored and left by the wayside of ordinary Guyanese society, treated no better than furniture at times. In other societies however, such individuals often lead quality lives with some assistance from others who have been trained to deal with them. (Also noteworthy is that fact that there are other conditions – such as various forms of mental illness – which can incapacitate persons temporarily. Not all such conditions are currently recognized as disabilities, worthy of attention and intervention.)

In Guyana, almost half (44%) of those surveyed in 2005 by the National Commission on Disability had experienced negative attitudes or behaviours from others as a result of their disability. Guyanese with disabilities regularly experience discrimination in multiple arenas – from minibus drivers who refuse to stop for them on the street, employers who terminate them when they become disabled or refuse to hire disabled people in the first place, to police who refuse to take their complaints of victimization seriously, and public facilities that remain off-limits to them.

The many unpaved roadways and scarcity of streets with sidewalks make getting around immensely challenging even for those without any disabilities, while the lack of wheelchair ramps, sign-language, and braille or voice-over technology for media and other information sources combine to further marginalize Guyanese with disabilities. Affected people and their family members/loved ones often struggle in isolation, with their physical, emotional, and economic burdens.

A society dedicated to ensuring health and wellness for all its citizens must address the needs of those must vulnerable, first and foremost. As such, people with disabilities are among the population groups most deserving of attention.

Many of these individuals have the potential to make positive and valuable contributions of society, and they all deserve the same access to all the public good, services, and life opportunities as other Guyanese. Paying attention to the preventable causes of some disabilities and investing in care, education, and support early on can have significant payoffs. Simple, low-cost solutions exist which can make huge improvements in disabled persons’ quality of life.

And even in instances where interventions are more costly, the investment is worthy if one keeps in mind that, as the saying goes – “There but for the grace of God, go I.” Charity isn’t the only thing required however; people with disabilities can be just as skilled, entrepreneurial, business savvy, and successful as others. They just need equal opportunities comparable to all other Guyanese, and policies and programmes that protect and safeguard their rights.

Sherlina can be contacted at

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