Firstly, I would like to say thank you to the people who had opportunities to leave but remained, and those who returned to live in Guyana. I am truly grateful for their service to our country.
Guyana is not for the faint-hearted. It is not that I dislike Guyana; I love my country. But it is challenging to live here. It is a great sacrifice to live here, and it comes at a heavy cost. It costs you a lot of anxiety travelling on our roads due to the careless drivers speeding. It can cost you to be hurt if you ask the reckless driver to slow down.
You may be verbally or physically abused by the driver or passengers. It costs you financially to buy a new refrigerator because of the damage from the frequent blackouts.
It costs you many sleepless nights because of the fear of thieves breaking into the home. It costs you to be on constant alert (as though you were living in a war zone) to make sure no one robs you.
It forces you to go home early at night after social functions to avoid being robbed. It costs you your integrity because you have to pay unethical bribes (though some of the locals don’t see it as a bribe but as a ‘lunch money’). You can’t avoid paying this lunch money if you want any documents done quickly. It costs you to be demoralized by uneducated clerks, waitresses and cashiers lacking compassion because you are asking them to do their jobs.
It costs you to be exposed to vulgar conversations and the most explicit lyrics blazing from the music boxes and cars, which are ubiquitous in the streets. If you are not used to hearing such explicit language and lyrics, it’ll make you feel extremely uncomfortable, troubled, unhappy and depressed. It’ll make you ask if you are living in a civilized or uncivilized society. And the worst part about all of this, Editor, is that you’ll notice that it doesn’t even bother anyone else.
So you’ll be left feeling alone. And that feeling of aloneness and no one to talk to about how you feel will leave you feeling as though you’re not in your home country. Because the country and people have changed. It is not the same country you left decades ago, and it is not the country that you dream of retiring in. You’ll begin to feel homesick, regret that you returned and want to return to your adopted land.
Editor, if you are like me, compassionate and your heart breaks when you see children suffering, and no one seems to care, then it costs to live in Guyana. It costs to live in a developing country. In developing countries like ours, there are diseases like malaria and dengue, that run out of control, there is a lack of resources for garbage collection and clean water that runs in pipes into houses, and there is poor quality education about the spread of disease and an inadequate response by corrupt officials more interested in lining their pockets than in helping malnourished children.
In 2017, there are still many parts of Guyana where there is no running water; only a river or a community pump, while in many parts there is no electricity.
It costs to live here because you’ll hear stories about children that will be heartbreaking. You’ll hear about children who can’t get to school because the bridge collapsed, and women in labour who have to be carried in a sheet to the nearest health centre, because the roads are impassable.
Editor, despite all this, and even though it is a developing country with some backward thinking people, we have to love and try to help them make the country and people better.
Living in Guyana has never been, and may never be easy. However, Editor, I am looking for a “good Guyanese” who is willing to pay the price to make our country great again. Is anyone willing to return home and help me help our country? I would be most grateful.