A registered non-profit, non-governmental organization, the Give Another Chance Foundation (GACF) endeavors to help communities find long-term solutions to poverty through innovative education and livelihood projects.
Founded seven years ago by Wakenaam native turned businesswoman, Miranda Thakurdin, the foundation is quite focused on improving the lives of persons, specifically children, through the provision of basic education from pre-school to university, and healthcare to underprivileged children in rural and urban communities.
In a recent interview with the foundation’s acting President Melissa ‘Vanilla’ Roberts, she explained that the NGO was established by Thakurdin, who came from less fortunate circumstances herself, and with several other likeminded individuals sought to offer assistance to persons in such positions, as a means of improving their lives.
Since its establishment she said, the GACF has spent the first five years actively catering to the needs of underprivileged children in Wakenaam. The last two years however, has seen the NGO extending their work to parts of Regions 1, 4 and 5.
Offering some insight on the work GACF does, Roberts said a lot of emphasis is placed on education, working with children from as young as two years old to university aged young adults.
“One of the cases I remember distinctly, is this little boy from Wakenaam we had gifted a bicycle; he was always excelling at school. When he wrote exams, he was given a place at Queen’s College and we helped him with his education there, and now we are paying his university tuition for his four years at the University of Guyana. If he wants to go further in his field, we will also be assisting with that,” Roberts shared.
“The whole idea is to help the people who are less fortunate to succeed in life,” she added.
Apart from that specific case, Roberts also highlighted a more recent instance where the GACF not only equipped the top National Grade Six Assessment (NGSA) performers of the West Ruimveldt Primary and Hopetown Primary schools with school materials, but also presented each student with their very own laptop.
The support given will not end there, she said, as the foundation will be keeping an eye on these students throughout their academic life, prepared to offer assistance if the need arises.
“This is not a onetime thing, the idea is to offer enough support to prevent underprivileged children failing at life. So those are children we keep track off, and are in constant communication with their parents to check up on them,” the acting president related.
Back on the island of Wakenaam, the GACF, with encouragement of donors have been paying private lessons fees for students, taking away the extra burden from struggling parents.
This specific project was replicated in some areas in Regions 4 and 5; however, Roberts noted that the plans to extend the project further will be done once enough capacity is built in the already existing areas.
While most of the organization’s funding goes towards education, the GACF also focuses on empowering individuals to earn a livelihood and as such, a local women’s group in Baramita, a troubled indigenous village in Region 1, also benefits from the provision of sewing materials, which has been an ongoing over the past two years.
Other social activities took the form of Christmas celebrations in both the city and the outlaying Wakenaam and Baramita, as the GACF during the last Christmas season distributed gifts to over 600 children.
“We are also very big on Christmas,” Roberts said, before alluding to the inaugural Christmas tree lighting in Wakenaam back in 2015.
“It was the first time the island had such an activity and more so, one that included a 40 ft tree… last year (2015) was just a basic light up and gift distribution, but what we did this year (2016), we wanted to make it more fun for the kids, and so we created a Christmas fun park for them,” she added.
In Georgetown, the GACF recreated a similar Christmas fun park at the Demerara Cricket Club (DCC) and hosted over 350 children from Regions 3, 4 and 5.
“We took the same fun park idea and recreated it at DCC and invited all those children to come to the events…to me the kids had more fun, all of which could not have been possible without our kind donors, both big and small,” Roberts related.
Commenting on the plans for the New Year, the acting President said the GACF will continue to focus on the existing projects and upping their volunteer intake.
As it is, the GACF functions with an eight member executive board, comprising of individuals with vested interests in volunteering, and at least 20 other volunteers.
Also, of importance for the NGO, is the continuous sourcing of funds for the execution of its social activities throughout the year. “We are always open to donors, and they should look out for events in 2017, as we would love the support,” she encouraged.
The GACF’s main office is located at 43 ‘A’ Friendship, East Bank of Demerara; persons desirous of learning more about the GACF are encouraged to visit their Facebook page: https:// www.facebook. com/Give-Another-Chance-Foundation-1067082043323612/ or contact them on Tel 609-6878.