Regional facilitators of the Hinterland Youth Employment Service (HEYS) in Region One have been encouraged to motivate and inspire the youth as the second cycle of the programme commences.
The launching of the new cycle took place on Tuesday morning at the North West Secondary School, Mabaruma, Region One, and was attended by newly appointed coordinator of the HEYS programme Junior Williams, Regional Chairman Brentnol Ashley, Social Cohesion Officer on the ground, Donna Bowen and Regional HEYS Monitor, Murphy De Souza.
This year’s programme, like the last commenced with the training of local facilitators, drawn from 37 indigenous villages from the Mabaruma and Matarkai Sub-region, over a seven-day period and will feature visiting master facilitators who would be touching on a wide range of topics, including environmental protection, trafficking in persons, public health and tourism, among others.
In opening the session, Williams reminded those gathered of the mandate set out by HEYS which essentially focuses on offering a second opportunity to youth between the ages of 16 to 35 years, to develop both life and vocational skills for the betterment of themselves and their community at large.
“The policy of our Government towards youth today is not to give them a fish when in need, but rather to teach them how to fish so that whenever they need that fish or want to eat that meal of fish they can go out in their own time and catch a fish for themselves. This being said, the objective of this programme is to ensure that we train our youth in the startup of businesses, provide them with the training skills so that they too can become the masters and mistresses of their own destiny,” he posited.
Offering some depth to this year’s programme, the Coordinator said a decision has been made to recruit at least 20 youth and two facilitators from the varying indigenous villages to participate in the programme which is going to be carried out in two parts; a theoretical part, as well as, a practical phase, over a period of 12 months.
According to Williams, during the 12-month period, the youth will be granted a monthly stipend of $30,000 which is basically to help them in terms of mobilisation and attending classes.
However, in the previous year, he said the Ministry found that participants would pool those resources together to invest in a business. Nonetheless, the participants will receive a $50,000 grant which enables them also to finance their activities.
“During this time, we are also hoping to have on board with us the Small Business Bureau because coming out of this we know there are going to be shining stars, as seen in the other regions where we have success stories,” the HEYS coordinator added.
For Region One alone, the aim is to have an estimated 80 facilitators and 750 youths to be trained in various disciplines that would fall under the categories of vocational and life skills.
Commenting on the training of facilitators, Williams noted that such persons would over the next seven days be exposed to lessons in a variety of skills, including the core subjects of Maths and English, as well as, the different disciplines as a refresher course.
“Today I urge you facilitators to absorb what you are going to be taught. This is a golden opportunity and government is behind it all the way through the Ministry of Indigenous Peoples’ Affairs,” he noted.
Similar sentiments were shared by Regional Chairman Brentnol Ashley who spoke of the importance of education in combating the social ills that currently affect the youth of the Region.
“As a young Regional Chair I am tired of seeing the social ills that affect our young people and it worries me every day. I worry about what solutions we can come up with to stop these ills. This being said, it is my belief that it starts with education. If we educate our young people fully and confidently, we are going to be much more assured that our tomorrow is going to be brighter than our today,” he said.
“In 2015, the RDC would have noted that the young people of the Region are very important to us and that is why we should try our utmost to provide opportunities for them…I am grateful that the Ministry of Indigenous Peoples’ Affairs would have brought a better and brighter opportunity for all of you representing the 36 communities who are gathered here today, because those of you are here are today are here for the purpose of being able to better yourself and your community,” Ashely added.
The chairman continued his address by challenging the facilitators to give their best to encourage the youth to complete the programme, especially since he would have been aware of persons dropping out of the programme last year.
“I want to challenge you to make the necessary sacrifices to complete this programme. We have a tendency as young people to starting things in our lives with great vibrancy, but after taking a few miles we become tired and may want to quit, but I want to say to you that when you are a quitter you will never become a successful individual,” he said.
“I would have been made aware that in the previous cycle we had so many persons who started but dropped out. Community leaders who are gathered here today, you have that responsibility, and that responsibility is to guide your young people along a pathway that leads them to positive lifestyle that can only be done when you help to motivate, encourage and inspire them not to quit before reaching the finish line. You all have what it takes to become your own boss, so I want you to see this opportunity as the gateway to a better life for yourself and by virtue of that, for your family and your community,” the Chairman added.
Meanwhile, Regional Monitor of the HEYS Programme in Region One, Murphy De Souza cautioned the facilitators on what is expected of them as facilitators, while registering his disappointment with the fact that there were several instances last year where he encountered cases of absentee facilitators.
“We expect you to give the participants your utmost, because previously they were facilitators who came to the classroom and then disappear for two weeks at a time,” De Souza lamented.
Falling back on another shortfall of the previous cycle, De Souza assured the facilitators that everything will be done to ensure that they are paid their stipends in a timely manner.
Two of the HEYS facilitators in training, Jean Benjamin and Roseann Flores of Mabaruma Thomas Hill and Mabaruma Settlement, respectively, told Stabroek News said that they welcomed the second cycle of the project and are excited to not only share their knowledge of garment construction with the youth, but to also revitalize their own business.
“I think what they are doing is really good for the development of our youth and ourselves, and I am happy to be a part of this, so that when I gain whatever little knowledge from here, I would be able to share it with those in my community,” Benjamin said.