If you had to select a near-coastal community that has persistently demonstrated resilience and ingenuity in the face of adversity, Linden would almost certainly be close to the top of your list. More than two decades after the decline of the global bauxite industry and the gradual withering away of an economic base which observers say had “spoilt” Linden to the core, the community continues to demonstrate a determination to survive and, somehow, to go forward, as if the legacy of years past remains a beacon that continues to guide the community’s steps in what, unquestionably, are difficult times.
The sheer weight of the challenges – including high unemployment and crime – such as those that Linden has had to endure could easily make a community lose its way. That has not been the case with Linden. Inexplicably, some may say, Linden continues to produce some of the finest minds in the country. Those who know differently simply point out that old habits die hard. Such community projects as are eked out from the sheer determination of the leaders in the community and the tireless efforts to secure material and other forms of support are focused on skills training geared towards finding employment for Linden’s growing army of creative and ambitious but, as it happens, unemployed young people.
The Linden Youth Network Training Institute, an initiative which seeks to offer in the areas of Information Technology, Numeracy and Literacy, Sexual and Reproductive Health, Communication Skills, Micro Enterprise and the disciplines associated with STEM Technology and Robotics is focused not only on equipping young Lindeners to secure employment but also to become imbued with valuable life skills that can expand their contributions to family and community.
Not only has the diligence and determination of this group caught the attention of First Lady Sandra Granger, it has also led to a successful collaborative effort with the Ministry of Social Protection and the Board of Industrial Training to host its first ever ICT workshop for Lindeners between the ages of 16 and 25. The immediate benefit, the organization says, is to enable youths to enhance their prospects to overcome challenges associated with unemployment and poverty. Not only has the skills training programme secured the endorsement of the Board of Industrial Training, it has also led to employment for some members of the group and opened up new self-employment prospects for others through the support of national institutions like the Small Business Bureau. The Network is hoping that the hastening of the provision in the 2004 Small Business Act for the allocation of 20% of state contracts to small businesses can, sooner rather than later, impact young people in Linden who have benefitted from its skills training initiative.
Keen for its graduates to be challenged, the Linden Youth Network believes that the work that it has done has enhanced job-preparedness, reduced poverty and contributed to social equality. Its work, the Network says, will enable its ‘graduates’ to perform to satisfactory standards in a range of work-related disciplines.
Significantly, in the course of its training programme the Network places considerable emphasis in preparing participants for self-employment. Its course in micro enterprise awareness offers practical tuition in areas that include developing business plans, marketing your business and budgeting. The Network says that insofar as readying its trainees for employment is concerned it caters for paid employment as well as self-employment.
The growth and development of the Network is being provided with momentum through contributors to the cause who see the merit in the work of the organization…contributors like Dr. Rupert Thompson, a Urologist by profession and a member of the Overseas Medical Assistance Team, one of the mentoring groups that contributes to growth and confidence-building within the Network. Then there is Joy Hamer-Agness, a United States-based Guyanese who recently presented the Network with five Lenovo Laptops along with an HP Printer and surge protectors. The Linden Youth Network is currently engaging Ms. Hamer-Agness in discussions which Stabroek Business has been informed will metamorphose into further support that will enable the organization to expand the range of its contribution to the Linden community.