May 15th is observed as International Day of the Family. The theme for 2018 is ‘Families and inclusive societies’. A family can be defined as a group of individuals related by blood, marriage or adoption. The family is the single most important influence in a child’s life. Children depend on parents and family to provide for their needs. The family is important for three critical areas: the protection and care of the child, the holistic development of the child and preparing the child to contribute to society. Family members teach each other, serve one another and share life’s joys and sorrows. The family is an institution for the replication of norms and values.
The Community must also play a pivotal role in supporting families in Guyana. A community centre should be available in every community in Guyana so that families can be supported or be involved in volunteering activities and opportunities. Community centres can help families build camaraderie and forge lasting bonds. They provide services such as counselling for those who need it, in essence creating a safe zone or place of refuge for families. The wider society can get involved by being on the lookout for signs of deteriorating family based care and quickly step in to provide support or report abuse.
In Guyana there are 749 children who are separated from their biological families and are living in institutional care as a result of various circumstances including physical and sexual violence which made their family environment an unsafe. Actions to benefit children must begin where they are, that is, in their family. These actions should also aim to strengthen the families’ capacity and willingness to provide adequate care and build community protection systems to guard against and respond to abuse and exploitation. The most immediate and long-term needs of children are best met by supporting and strengthening the family that they do have rather than by replacing it.
Families should have recreational activities which does not have to be expensive. For example, simply staying at home one night and playing simple games can strengthen the family bond and relationships.
Let us work together to create a Guyanese society where every child will grow up in a safe family, community and society.
Monitoring and Evaluation Officer