Whatever I have become, it is because of the circumstances. The PPP has made me. In the Rupununi, people do not seek the PPP for advice, assistance and guidance; they seek me out. I started out as a Public Servant in the Rupununi in July of 1991 and by April of 1993 I knew I was in for a torrid time under the new Administration. I had to stand up to the first PPP Regional Chairperson when she made some remarks which I found to be offensive.
I have been struggling ever since 1993. I have done everything that my country has asked me to do. My family has also made the many sacrifices I was called to make. The toughest time was when I was studying at UG. We had some very lean times back then, and we did not get the benefit of reaping the fruits of our labours. It was rudely taken away from us, while persons with little or no qualifications, but politically correct got the bounty. Yes at first I was terribly bitter. I have somehow learnt to turn that bitterness into writing. So the PPP made me.
As a councillor of the Regional Democratic Council (RDC) Region Nine, I am despised and respected in the same breath. Despised by the PPP because I continue to expose the numerous shortcomings of their mal-administration; and respected because they cannot tell me the things they would very much like to tell me, to my face. I am also well respected by the residents. They almost always seek my opinion on political and social issues. In all my dealings with people, I have never one day encouraged them to join the organization that I represent. For me these people have a right to choose which party they wish to be affiliated to, and I have a bounded duty to serve them.
Some cases in point:
* Just before RDC meeting yesterday (Friday 8th Feb.) an ex-employee of the RDC complained that he has not been paid his leave passage allowance for 2011 nor the three months back pay for the months he was on the job last year. During the election campaign he and I were jostling for space in and around Lethem to display our elections posters. He was PPP, I was APNU;
* While RDC was in session, I got a call informing me that the schoolboy that was murdered at Achiwuib (154 miles from Lethem) in the South Rupununi was being buried without a coffin. I went straight away to the cemetery, where I found the boy’s father alone digging the grave. I was able to find out that the report was false and that he had asked for cotton. His accent probably was not understood. This was his first trip to Lethem. He did say that he contacted the Regional Chairman to have his son’s body taken back to Achiwuib and was told that he “will see what he could do.” The body was eventually buried at St. Ignatius, just next door to Lethem. No one was sent to assist this poor Amerindian. He seemed lost and it took some residents nearby to assist him with drinking water and food. So the residents called me. I am ignorant of the father’s political affiliation/preference. I did not ask, like the other side is bent on doing;
* This morning (Sat. 9th Feb.) out of my bed I was told of a young Guyanese woman who was fired by her Brazilian employers for accompanying her husband to the hospital to seek medical attention for his injured eye. This guy once openly said that he does not like me, but it is my duty to help;
* Not two hours would have passed before I got another call. This time it was a grandmother who complained that her daughter-in-law, who is a patient at the state-of-the-art Lethem Hospital had not bathed as yet since there was no water in the hospital. She is APNU.
Editor, I do not see myself as an important person, but people think otherwise. At the RDC Statutory meeting yesterday (Fri. 8th Feb..) like all the meetings I have attended, I practically carried the meeting. I was absent from two meetings last year, and they were over before 1pm I was told. The meetings I attended went well past 4:30pm. That is because I go to the meetings to discuss issues – issues that will make life easier for our people.
I am aware that a councillor from one of the Amerindian villages had visited Lethem to open a bank account on behalf of his village. He had the royal run around since he did not go with all of the requirements to transact the business. My recommendation to council was for the Regional Executive Officer to have a meeting with the bank officials to ascertain what it will take to transact such business. Based on the information given, the Administration would then prepare a manual and distribute same to every village council, so that should any of them need to do the same thing in the future there would be a guide; and the delays would be minimal if there would be any. My colleagues from the other side gave a million and one reasons why it was not possible to implement such a simple plan.
The residents complained about the roads that were recently done but are now in a state of disrepair; the Kaicumbay residents complain that their Headmistress lives 12 miles away and travels every day to the village while there is a teacher’s house in the village. Twelve miles in this area is a long way because of the terrain. In the rainy season this twelve miles will easily turn to 30 odd miles since the present route is via a short cut; residents need road safety education for the schools because of the increased traffic in Lethem, they call me; shortage of drugs in the village, and the need to upgrade their health hut to a health centre, they tell me. I am very
occupied on any given day.
At the start of our meeting-the first for the year- I waited to hear if any mention would be made of the tragedy (editor’s note: a murder and a theft) that visited the RDC offices since we last met. Not one councillor raised the issue. I did so under Any Other Business with the hope that some resolutions on security for the office or, therapy for the staff, some of whom are still afraid; there was none, since no one else spoke of the issue. As if to remind us that we should be making some sort of decision on the matter, a very presumptuous individual hurled a big brick at the windows of the Boardroom and made good his escape in the bushes at the back of the building.
My colleagues, Editor, have got to relinquish their political posture and deal with issues in a more concerted way so that together we can all bring relief to the people. We should leave the matter of who should get credit to the people in the next four years or so.