A team from the Ethnic Relations Commission (ERC) headed by its Chairman, Bishop Juan Edghill conducted a two-day outreach in Region Seven earlier this month where residents raised several cases of discrimination.
According to an ERC release, these included the unfair treatment received when trying to access medical services at the city hospitals, poor living conditions at the Amerindian Hostel and mistreatment at the Cyril Potter College of Education (CPCE).
The ERC team visited Kamarang/Warawatta, Kako and Waramadong in Region Seven as part of the commission’s ongoing regional visits programme.
During the interactions, residents were made aware of the mandate of the ERC, and persons were encouraged to report to the commission any form of ethnic discrimination.
During the visit the ERC team also engaged over 1000 persons in community meetings and film festival activities.
The meetings were aimed at sensitizing individuals on the need for tolerance and respect for all races. Discussions were also held on how they can contribute to the fostering of racial harmony in their communities and ultimately Guyana.
Film festival activities were held at Waramadong Secondary (for primary and secondary students) and 682 students participated, Kako Primary School where 98 students were engaged and 78 students participated at Kamarang Primary School.
Community meetings were held at the multi-purpose centre in Waramadong with 43 residents participating, at Kako Primary School 57 residents were engaged, and 54 residents participated at the community meeting at Kamarang Primary School.
The release noted also that during the team’s visit several issues were raised and recorded. Common among these were the need for electricity and telephone services in the communities, the need to award contracts to persons from within the communities to undertake developmental projects and overcrowding at the dormitory.
The Regional Visits programme is featured on the ERC’s Strategic Plan every year, as a proactive method to assess the state of affairs of ethnic relations in the ten administrative regions of the country.
This programme also formed part of the commission’s continuous public education and awareness outreach.
Importantly, residents of the interior communities, during their interactions with the ERC throughout the commission’s regional visits have called for a more sustained presence of the commission in their regions and sub-regions.
To this end, the commission informed that staff will be visiting each region/sub-region on a monthly basis to listen to concerns and to take in complaints of discrimination, among others.
Meanwhile, public advisories outlining the dates, times and venues when the ERC staff will be visiting will be advertised in the daily newspapers, placed on the radio and communicated to the residents using other communication vehicles/apparatus within the respective regions/sub-regions.