A candlelight vigil for World Suicide Prevention Day

Dear Editor,

‘Voices Against Violence’ is an attempt to get communities across Guyana involved in anti-violence activism, while fostering the concept of communal action for community well-being. This candlelight vigil, set for World Suicide Prevention Day, September 10, 2016, is an initiative that is inexpensive and easy to organize; each participant simply needs a candle or can even use a cell phone and that brings communities together. Thus vigils can be organized by religious institutions, local businesses, sports and youth clubs, political party groups ‒ just about any entity or set of individuals including schools. Where possible two or more groups can collaborate. Each vigil can select routes around the community, end at a central point or any other selected place where the participants can be accommodated, and hold a rally whereby preselected individuals from within or without the community can speak on the theme of anti-violence and, if desired, inter-faith prayers can be conducted. During the walkabout anti-violence slogans can be chanted.

For the purposes of this vigil all of the following are considered acts of violence either against self or others: trafficking, suicide, drug and alcohol addiction, domestic and child abuse, rape, incest, teenage pregnancy, road carnage, dysfunctional relationships, neglect of the elderly, abuse of the mentally and physically challenged. Besides, relationship violence and its dysfunctional socialization, which are more and more looming as issues of critical urgency, can and do shape personalities that easily gravitate towards crime and attending violence. Thus, violence should be addressed holistically and when communities come together they can begin to become more caring and build more togetherness while getting their feet wet in the practice of mindfulness. In effect, anti-violence must become everybody’s business and immediately so! The candlelight vigil, held in communities throughout the nation, is a step in this direction.

At the end of the day, Guyana is small enough, both in terms of demographics and inhabited landscape, for this vigil to be eminently doable, especially given that most of what needs to be harnessed is already in place. In fact, Guyana’s history teaches that politics, race, religion are never obstacles in the face of people’s willpower and resolve.  Besides, the vigil will foster community collaboration, focus on saving lives and preventing harm, and foster the process of societal transformation.

Currently The Caribbean Voice, Golden Om Dharmic Youth, Save Abee Foundation, Orchid Foundation, Anna Catherina Islamic Complex, NJASM, Art of Living (Guyana), Nirvana Humanitarian Foundation, Imagine Nation Foundation and GIVE Foundation, are the organizations coordinating this vigil. But as the days go by we hope to have other NGOs involved, as well as the media and government agencies and ministries. Also we appeal to local and community leaders, businessmen and other influential persons as well as community organizations, including religious institutions and sports clubs, to please help bring off this activity by ensuring that a vigil is organized in every community, collaboratively where possible. If anyone can spearhead a vigil, or knows of an individual or entity who can be instrumental in organizing vigils please touch base with us.

So that we can map all vigils, provide any necessary assistance, including publicity and ensure that all vigils are acknowledged and lauded, The Caribbean Voice is requesting that all vigil organizers/potential organizers do contact us ASAP. In Guyana call Bibi at 621-6111 or 223-2637, Pandit Deodat at 627-4432 or Chandanie at 697-9968. In North America call Anna at 646-461-0574, Ty at 646-589-3135 or Sham at 954-778-3222. Send email to bibiahamad1@hotmail.com, keshni.rooplall@yahoo.com, deodatpersaud25@yahoo.com or caribvoice@aol.com. IM Deodat Persaud, Chandanie Rooplall, Bibi Ahamad, Ty Talbot or Annan Boodram on Facebook.

Yours faithfully,

Annan Boodram

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