Over two hundred students of the St Ignatius Secondary School dormitory in central Rupununi, Region Nine, congregated in their mess hall last Saturday evening, September 30, to observe the conclusion of Child Protection Week 2017. In attendance were a number of officers from the Education Department of Region Nine who made an on-the-spot contribution to the success of the occasion.
On the agenda of the programme was a skit, an interpretive dance and a poem recited by members of the two churches who came out in support and to send a message to their very young audience on how to protect themselves from “sexual predators” and child abuse.
Pastor Jenny Forde of the Assemblies of God Church in Lethem charged that young students must break the silence of child abuse by speaking out and meeting the right persons to tell them about what is taking place. She also warned both male and female students not to allow persons to touch them inappropriately and to look out for signs of abuse. She also told them to question their young peers if they noticed any withdrawal syndromes and strange behavioural patterns.
Pastor Ramesh Barker of the Full Gospel Church in St Ignatius village opened the programme with a prayer and during his presentation elaborated on incestuous family relationships and self-esteem among other topics, and urged his audience to look out for grooming, where persons will offer gifts to young teens on the pretext of caring for them, but really with the intention to exploit them.
The students who attended this educational and sensitization talk on child protection and abuse are from different cultural backgrounds and reside in the various sub-districts of the Rupununi including Annai, Karasabai, Sand Creek and Aishalton, but are presently housed at the school live-in facility where they attend the St Ignatius Secondary School.
The Programme was organized by Rupununi Organised Against Domestic and Sexual Violence (ROADSV) in collaboration with the Full Gospel Church of St Ignatius village and the Assemblies of God Church in Lethem, central Rupununi.
Mark Anthony Rodrigues