Living an extraordinary life

Quite a few Guyanese live extraordinary lives, with outstanding accomplishments and wide-ranging community impact, many on a global scale.

There are the famous ones like Eddy Grant and Shivnarine Chanderpaul, and there are countless greats among us who live their days in unassuming, humble service.

How we see ourselves as a nation determines the kind of future we build. Constructing the future takes a certain presupposition. We cannot see ourselves as weak and poor and undeveloped and unable.

We must see ourselves as a strong people, as rich in potential, as capable of achieving a GDP rating comparable to Canada and the US and our CARICOM partners.

The Diaspora, a key and vital segment of the Guyanese nation, is home to countless souls who have accomplished extraordinary feats. And many are willing and longing to contribute back to the homeland.

In the 21st century global village, Guyanese everywhere look to Guyana, not to their ancestral lands of origin, whether China, Portugal, India, Africa or Europe – but to Guyana, where they developed their unique accent.

Let’s take these three Canadian-Guyanese, for example. David Singh achieved outstanding success as an entrepreneur in Canada. Despite set-backs and challenges, he sets out with vision and a social conscience to impact the world.

His is an extraordinary life par excellence in the world of entrepreneurship. The author of seven books, he has launched a tertiary education venture in St Lucia, and plans on playing a big role in shaping Guyana for 21st century success. Once a poor immigrant to Canada, the Canal Polder-born entrepreneur is a bona fide, inspiring story of rags to riches, moving from mopping the floor of McDonalds restaurant to becoming a Canadian multimillionaire.

Another Canadian-Guyanese of note, living a truly extraordinary life, is Malcolm Cho-Kee. He grew up on the East Bank Demerara, the son of a Chinese immigrant to this country who operated a Chinese restaurant.

Cho-Kee is among an elite group of real estate professionals in Canada, and teaches at the prestigious Ontario Real Estate College. He talks with a distinct Guyanese accent, and thrives on his roots, hosting a Guyanese hangout at his Ontario office every Friday night.

He, too, is working to establish a strong presence in his home country, with a shopping plaza in the works for his property at Grove, EBD.

Then we have a guy like Richard van West Charles, the former Minister of Health and son-in-law of late President Forbes Burnham. Today, Richard, in his 60’s, travels the globe contributing his health care expertise to the World Health Organization, operates a Non-Governmental Organization here at home, and plays a leadership role in national politics.

Here at home we could think of many among us who strive for extraordinary living.

Despite the social abyss into which this nation has fallen, we could look around and find many of our leaders who refuse to give in to the malaise surrounding them in this society.

We as a nation must find a way to bring together the Diaspora community with those at home of a visionary mindset.

We have folks like Raphael Trotman, Priya Manickchand, Martin Goolsarran, Moses Nagamootoo, Faith Harding, David Granger and so many others who stand up to serve.

Were these extraordinary people to form alliances and partnerships with like-minded leaders in the Diaspora, we would see significant progress.

Such synergies would cause the kind of transformation that would impact communities with significant social progress.

We need to start telling the stories of our extraordinary people. David Singh, Richard van West Charles, Malcolm Cho-Kee, Raphael Trotman (who is revolutionizing Parliament) and so many others inspire us, motivate us and show us how to dream, how to strive, how to believe that we could rise to the challenges of conquering life’s obstacles.

Ours is a nation that has no right to wallow in gross poverty, ranking with the poorest of the poor in the western hemisphere. We should not have such alarming decline in our literacy rate. We should not have mothers dying at our national hospital giving birth to their babies.

We are a greater people. We see in the countless souls who have conquered monumental odds that anyone among us could dream, could strive, could reach for the extraordinary life.

In David Singh and Malcolm Cho-Kee and so many others we see our ability as a people to conquer life’s obstacles on an international scale.

Our own Dave Martins contributed to our music culture in such a dynamic way, and today chose to return home, writing a column for this newspaper.

This is the kind of life we could all aspire to, being confident that we could achieve it. The Guyana Dream is real. It’s not fantasy. It is achieved every day, in diverse places around the world.

Annette Arjoon-Martins plays such an amazing role in leading the mangrove project to secure our coastline against erosion from the Atlantic Ocean. Quietly, humbly, we see individuals playing such roles in our nation, building us into a great people.

We must see this side of who we are as a nation, and feel the pulse that beats in our Guyanese heart.

At home the struggle is much harder to achieve that Guyanese dream. But we see those who are doing it.

As we look to these extraordinary souls who reach for outstanding lives, we gain the confidence to lift ourselves, and our nation, to its true potential.

We have countless examples of Guyanese living extraordinary lives, and we could set ourselves the goal of emulating them.

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