St Francis Community Developers unveils $40M training centre

The Saint Francis Commu-nity Developers (SFCD) on Monday launched a $40.3 M training centre, made possible through the Japan’s Grant Assistance for Grassroots Human Security Project (GGP) that would aid in the reduction of poverty.

Japan’s Ambassador to Guyana, Yoshimasa Tezuka said Tokyo provided a grant of US$103,000 and he was impressed by the size of the building and was pleased to be associated with its construction.

Japan’s Ambassador to Guyana, Yoshimasa Tezuka (left) officially handing over the key to the building to president of the SFCD, Alex Foster.

The ambassador said the GGP is designed to promote human security in the world by assisting non-governmental organizations engaged in the social development sector.

He acknowledged that to ensure human security they must address poverty reduction through projects such as the construction of the centre.

He hopes that the centre would be the gathering place for residents of both regions Five and Six who wish to improve their skills and reduce poverty.

He recalled that on November 10, 2011 the Embassy of Japan signed a contract with the President of SFCD, Alex Foster and the construction was “actively pursued.” He applauded the efforts of the staff of the SFCD who “saw the fruits of their labour.”

Tezuka said he was impressed by the hard work of the staff and the ideas of Foster after he was given a tour of some of the other projects by Friends of St. Francis.

He, along with other officials visited the day care and information technology centres operated by the All Saints Presbyterian church in New Amsterdam and the Felix Austin Police College at Adventure which requires funding to accommodate the training of female officers.

A visit was also made to Limlair where the Mibicuri Community Developers is undertaking poultry, shade-house and aqua-culture projects.

Also part of the touring party was Second Secretary, Economic Co-operation Officer of the Japan Embassy, Tsuyoshi Koga; Abeet Solomon, Deputy Representative of UNICEF and Chisa Mikami, Deputy Resident Representative as well as Kent Vincent, Manager of Food for the Poor (FFP) and team, Regional Chairman, David Armogan and Deputy Mayor of NA, Harold Dabydeen among other officials.

The ambassador noted that Japan and Guyana have shared a history of co-operation in the international arena and hopes that it can be maintained.

Foster told the gathering that the top flat of the building which is for multi-purpose activities and training can accommodate over 250 persons.

The bottom would house six offices including a consultancy, document centre and an impressive conference centre. He lauded the support of FFP which he said helped to make the project possible.

Together with the $20.5M from the Japanese, SFCD was expected to raise $13.8M but it successfully raised 18.8M to stock the building.

He said too that during a visit to Trinidad last year he met with donors and was able to secure US$250,000 in “committed funds.”

The SFCD has also established an agriculture project, including a tilapia farm through funding from Australia.

It would also establish a project referred to as the village, consisting of 18 structures on a 10-acre plot of land.

Two of the buildings have since been completed, one “with the blessings of the German Embassy,” the third, a guesthouse got started this week and should be completed before the end of the year.

The guesthouse would have four self-contained rooms for visitors to the  SFCD at the top flat while the bottom flat would provide accommodation for 30 male and 30 female trainees.

He hopes to bring back culture to the region and plans to construct a music school to provide clean entertainment.

He had also spoken to President Donald Ramotar about getting a 30-seater bus to transport persons to access the training. The president advised him to “put it in writing.”

Foster has said confidently that the next big visit to the SFCD would be by American celebrity/television personality Oprah Winfrey.

In his brief remarks, Vincent said FFP is pleased with the work done by SFCD in utilizing the donations made by the organization to enhance the lives of many and to execute a number of projects which have benefitted communities on the Corentyne.

He said FFP over the years has partnered with Foster and the SFCD, resulting in initiatives such as the enhancement of the Felix Austin Police Training College, day care centres and the Limlair chicken project.

Foster, he said has “proven what is possible and is one committed to following through on a vision to improve and enhance the lives of persons” who lack opportunities.

Also giving brief addresses were Solomon, Mikami and Armogan. Solomon said SFCD displayed brilliant initiatives and has set the standard for others, including those from other countries to learn. He urged SFCD “to document your success and share them as lessons learned in the progress to success.”

He noted the dedication and passion of the staff that have been displayed in providing support for children in Region Six and by extension in Region Five. The support is vital for children to reach their full potential and for the rights of the child to be protected.

The SFCD received a cheque of $500,000 from the Customer Services Manager of the Guyana Telephone & Telegraph Company, Carl De Mattos for the publishing of a magazine to mark its 25th anniversary.

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