The University of Guyana’s main campus in Turkeyen graduated over 1,500 students last week Saturday and many of these graduates will move on to further their education elsewhere, reside in another country or, as the guest speaker Secretary General of the Caribbean Community (Caricom), Irwin LaRocque recommended, apply for the Caribbean Single Market and Economy Recognition of Skills Certificate and enhance the development of their region. The option of migrating from Guyana to Caribbean states was given at this forum, where the stage was typically used to encourage Guyanese to stay and develop their state.

The Secretary General’s statement was blunt and true as he called for Caribbean integration and unity of our people but maybe most of those sitting before him with their shiny new qualifications saw an option they have been pondering for a while – migrate to somewhere. He has given University of Guyana graduates a solid option they would most likely take.

But this goes way beyond the fences of Turkeyen and Tain. Some youths finish secondary school and migrate; some are gone with their parents. There is no hiding it; Guyanese are migrating. Buildings may be going up and cars may be choking the roads, but this gives a false perception of progress and development; the flights are still leaving full.

culture boxBut why the youths? Why the youthful, the energetic? Those who have their lives right before them; why do they leave without giving Guyana a try?

As a young person, let me try to answer this myself – because of the hardships we endure in this state. It often appears that justice favours the well-connected. You have a case in court and it’s ‘Come back this day, Come back that day’ for years and years only to be told one day, ‘Your case got dropped.’ Who won? Where is the justice for those who deserve it?

Basic amenities are poor: health care, education, electricity supply and water – all poor. The internet is sluggish. Food, gas and rent are expensive.

Every year we hear: ‘Guyana has one of the fastest growing economies’ and every year the budget gets higher. Yet, Guyana is still the second poorest country in the Western Hemisphere. The poorest in South America, the second poorest in the Caribbean Community and our dollar constantly depreciates.

Where are the jobs for the youths? Job opportunities are scarce in both public and private sectors.

Business competition? Where is it? There is no level playing field.

The people fear their leaders and rightfully so if their leaders are threatening citizens, threatening the media, threatening expressions of the people, parliament. Who to trust when the leaders are either wolves, or wolves in sheep’s clothing?

Citizens have lost themselves; lost what it is to be Guyanese so they adopt any other thing.

Crime is rampant and chaos rules.

We are dying; the soul of this country is dying. Death soon come and if it doesn’t come fast enough we take it into our own hands; murdering our brothers, our women and taking our own lives. The country with the highest suicide rate in the world; that’s us. Oh yes, and the fastest growing economy. What do we have to show for it? Buildings and cars!

This is our culture; this is what we live in. We have progressed two steps and fallen many levels.

Our futures are non-existent in this state and our realities are hard, depressing and we have no one to turn to, nowhere to turn, so we leave. We leave Guyana and all of it behind for the chance of a better opportunity elsewhere.

So that’s my answer. The youths want more, we deserve more, but where is the more? Maybe it’s waiting in the greener pastures we dream of and can’t wait to escape to. (Jairo Rodrigues)

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