Anti-Violence Candlelight Vigil for World Suicide Prevention Day

Dear Editor,

To mark World Suicide Prevention Day the National Anti-Violence Candlelight Vigil was launched last year by Voices Against Violence, a loose umbrella of NGOs, FBOs, CBOs and other entities. 300 vigils in communities across Guyana led to a decision to make this event annual and so, once again, it is set for September 10, this year under the theme, ‘Take A Minute, Save A Life’.

Vigils bring people together. However, this vigil is also an attempt to get communities across Guyana involved in anti-violence activism while fostering the concept of communal action for community well-being. It is inexpensive and easy to organize an event.  Each participant simply needs a candle or can even use a cell phone.

Vigils can be organized by religious institutions, local businesses, sports and youth clubs, political party groups, schools…just about any entity or set of individuals. Where possible two or more groups can collaborate. Organizers select routes around the community, assemble at a preselected place and hold a rally whereby selected individuals can speak on the theme of anti-violence in general or selected aspects such as suicide or abuse. If desired, inter-faith prayers can be conducted and cultural programmes organized. 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 spawn, 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 almost 40 entities are coordinating this year’s vigil, but as the days go by we hope to have other groups involved, as well as the media and government agencies and ministries. Also we appeal to local and community leaders, businessmen and other influential people 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, that can be instrumental in organizing vigils please touch base with us.

So that we can map all vigils, provide any necessary assistance, including publicity, ensure that all vigils are acknowledged and lauded, and use pics of all vigils to create an online collage, Voices Against Violence is requesting that all vigil organizers/potential organizers do contact us ASAP. In Guyana call Nazim at 644-1152 or 646-4649, Leslyn at 636 1189 or Chandanie at 697-9968. In North America call Annan at 646-461-0574, Sham at 954-778-3222, Sharmin at 718-506-8225 or Dr Rodney at 516-286-8952. Send email to IM Gemini Bae Irock, Nazim Hussain, Sham Tilak, Franklin Rodney, Sharmin Prince, Leslyn Holder or Annan Boodram on Facebook.

Yours faithfully,

Annan Boodram

For Voices Against Violence

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