Our nation’s main wealth lies in the human capital of Guyanese; the skills, talents, knowledge, energy, initiative and creativity of each individual.
How do we tap into this latent asset base?
In each Guyanese, we find a measure of human capital that adds a unique dimension to the national knowledge and human resource pool.
This concept that we live in a Knowledge Age in this 21st century is simply the recognition and investment in the innate power of the individual.
Guyanese investing their innate abilities, skills, experience, knowledge and talents in community efforts, that’s what it takes to push progress into full human-development. This works out to add up to national development, ground up.
But we must go beyond mere elections, and invest in individual initiative and personal human capital.
Across this land, we see the difference one individual could make for community progress. Take that community comprising the long stretch of straight road in Eastern Berbice, for example.
The road lacks street lights, yet the farming community lives in relaxed peacefulness. Languishing under the hot sun, flanked on both sides of the roadway with vast acres of flat rolling farmland, the neighbourhood houses many young people. And for them to find entertainment, they either resort to bottom house rum shops, or must travel to New Amsterdam or the Corentyne.
Faced with lots of indolent youth who idle away their time and waste their energy in non-productive ways, the community, making up a couple of villages, with unimaginative names like Number 7 and Number 11, whiles away its days, with many either hoping to migrate, waiting for their US or Canadian sponsorship papers, or passive in hopeless existence.
But the community is restless, seeking to push itself beyond its limitations. Two young men, Ryan Sukhoo and Raymond Mohamad, have taken to organizing the young people into a vibrant new club.
Mohamad has inspired the entire community, bringing together an impressive array of volunteers to convert an abandoned cow pasture, owner unknown, into a decent cricket ground.
It’s so inspiring to see the neighbours come together in one spirit, in cooperation, to prepare and maintain the pitch, to pool finances, to bring talents and human resources together in a worthwhile volunteer effort.
Now, the No 7 Cricket Club is a registered entity, boasting 50+ members. Mohamad hosts daily exercising programmes, and the club has fielded a women’s cricket team apart from its men’s team.
This coming weekend the club plays other Corentyne teams in a fun day cricket tournament at Port Mourant.
Throughout the country we see such grassroots efforts to self-develop. Yes, our nation harbours a frightening array of nay-sayers and negative-vibers and idlers and wasters who refuse to get up and get.
But we also see lots of Guyanese making things happen. Mohamad networks with the Police in Berbice, with the Regional administration, and with other stakeholders, to get things done. He takes time off from his business to organize, plan and develop the club.
The result? Dozens of young men and women, full of energy and restless for something worthwhile to do with their days, play together, exercising discipline, learning essential life-skills, practising the art of teamwork and cooperation.
On a sunny afternoon after work and school, it’s refreshing to see these young people come together, full of laughter and excitement and peace, full of the blessedness that is the Guyanese landscape, to play cricket, gaff, have a drink and bond as a community.
At a Funday last weekend, the club attracted hundreds of people from the Corentyne and New Amsterdam, along with all the neighbours on that stretch of road constituting the two villages, and hosted a softball cricket tournament with five trophies that businesses in Berbice donated, having a grand fun time.
These people don’t sit complaining, looking for handouts. They want street lamps on their roadway, and they want better local government administration, but they refuse to complain and sit idle in a negative pathos.
In fact, Mohamad and his family started their own business, so enterprising and progressive is the community. Many in the area work, but refuse to depend on a job: they rear livestock, plant kitchen gardens, and engage in a level of community cooperation that is a wonder to behold. It’s a common sight to see neighbours coming together to help each other do stuff, including building a bridge, or teaming up to carry out vigilante duties.
Isn’t this what Guyana is all about? We’ve got so much going for us as a nation. And in the lifestyle of these two villages, in the way Sukhoo, Mohamad and the others organize the club, we see how relaxed and peaceful life in Guyana could be.
The onus is on Government and Parliament to develop programmes that encourage such efforts as we see in Berbice. If communities come together, we could do so much. So we’ve got to develop initiatives to encourage Guyanese to invest their latent human capital into community projects.
It’s time we inspire individual Guyanese to rise up and put their talents, skills, knowledge, experience and energy to good use, to community development projects.
This simple vision would go a far way to see grassroots, ground-up development happen.
The Ministry of Youth and Culture partners with youth clubs across the country, providing millions of dollars to each organization, for fencing grounds and so on.
But we need to see a coordinated, conscious Government and Parliamentary effort to encourage and propel human development in these clubs, to provide people like Sukhoo and Mohamad with the tools they need to see their efforts bear good fruit.
The Ministry of Education, for example, must inaugurate human development programmes that provide incentives for these loose community efforts to become vibrant, creative, engaging human development hubs.
Such hubs network into a national pool of self-developed, committed Guyanese, a kind of national intelligentsia. Let’s envision a Guyana thus engaged, full of inspired folks working to create vibrant communities, and a Guyanese nation empowered.