As an American-born citizen, I am one who holds the country of Guyana very close to my heart. As an infant, my parents made the decision to relocate from New York to Guyana as they felt it was a great place to raise a child. As a result, Guyana has given me an array of positive experiences for so many years, but also one negative experience in which I can never forget.
I was eight years old and was dropped off at Mae’s Primary School on what seemed like a normal morning. Around midday, I vividly remember my parents picking me up hastily from school and rushing to close our business and lock up our home. I was utterly confused as to what was happening, but I watched as my parents and grandparents frantically ran around our house looking for ways in which our family can remain safe. It was not long until we heard a group of angry protestors causing havoc on our street. This was negative, of course. However, and this positive I will forever remember, is that on that day, if it wasn’t for the protection from our Afro-Guyanese neighbours, my family and I could have experienced a much worse outcome. Shortly thereafter that incident, my parents re-migrated to the United States to be far away from the political violence and to seek a better future for me.
I am now almost 24 and have since visited Guyana innumerable times and every time I visit, I get infuriated by the state of the country, whether that involves the environment, the economy, the standard of living, the government, or countless other aspects. While studying at university in the US, I was exposed to many developmental indicators which increased my concern over the statistics facing Guyana. I ask myself why is it that more than 35% of people in the country are still living below the poverty line according to the World Bank. As a graduate in business and as a foreseeable foreign investor, I wonder why the ranking of Guyana on the World Bank Group’s Ease of Doing Business index has been sliding. It is currently ranked 123rd out of 189 economies, a steep decline from placing 100th in 2011. I am appalled by the fact that Guyana falls between Afghanistan and Nigeria, ranking 6th out of 147 nations in its crime index of 76.88 (Numbeo.com). Most shocking is the actuality that Guyana possibly ranks first out of 192 countries in its suicide rate of 32.5% (Worldlifeexpectancy.com). The truth of the matter is that the rate of development the country has experienced is far less than what it should be today. Additionally, the potential for growth opportunities in different sectors, such as services and agriculture are tremendous, but why are we not seeing this?
Apart from all the indicators that reveal where the country stands in terms of ‘progress,’ there is one fact that remains, and that is, we can do better! Progress will never happen if the University of Guyana students, our youths and our future, cannot have access to proper amenities in their educational environment. Progress is not present if a 14-year-old girl is raped by the son of a government official and is not given justice, but is instead offered a large sum of money to be silenced. Progress is not present if the current administration continuously chooses to disregard accountability, and supports unethical practices and corruption.
It is time for our nation to experience true development under leaders who are aware that it is the people who hold the actual power and will therefore implement policies with the best interests of the citizens in mind. Most importantly, the people of Guyana deserve much better than what they are being subjected to under this government. They deserve leaders who would not want to let their people down because these leaders know that true democracy holds that they can be thrown out of office if they do not properly serve. Furthermore, a new government will be obligated to prove to the people that they are deserving of the chance they are given and not become over-confident and comfortable in abusing their power. Finally, there is an imperative need for leaders who will put all of our people and our nation first, and not their anticipated pensions, perks and privileges.
Guyana, a place which I once called “home,” has given me so much and I credit a lot of my successes to my upbringing there. It has provided me with a strong foundation to excel in my studies overseas. It has given me the personal values by which I abide and has shaped my philosophy and my passions in life. For these reasons, and so many more, I am anxious to see the nation do better – and not only experience true progress, but progress under an amalgamation of unity.