Third annual candlelight vigil against violence set

Dear Editor,

The third Annual National Candlelight Vigil was officially launched at a press conference in Georgetown on August 10. In attendance was this year’s vigil patron, Dr. George Norton, Minister of Social Cohesion, Youth, Sports and Culture. Voices Against Violence (the collection of entities that plan and organize vigils nationwide) recognizes that not only is the vigil an activity that can concretely build social cohesion but that the patronage of Minister Dr. Norton will ensure that this year the vigil reaches into the hinterland and riverrain communities and that promotion will be more widespread and intensive. We also hope that the Minister’s patronage would encourage many more entities to come on board, including various ministries, agencies and departments of the government.

     Set for Sunday September 9, this year’s vigil is being held under the theme, ‘Working Together to Prevent Violence”. Launched in 2016, to mark World Suicide Prevention Day (September 10 each year) this event has brought together over 100 entities across Guyana to organize 800 vigils over the past two years as communities strive to make anti-violence everybody’s business. This year we’re aiming for at least 1000 vigils 

     Non-political in nature, the vigil serves to bridge all sorts of divides on the social landscape by bringing communities together to be involved in anti-violence activism, while fostering the concept of communal action for community well being. When communities come together they can begin to become more caring and build more togetherness

     Communities and planning organizations have complete control over their vigils. Thus, violence can be addressed holistically or organizers can choose what aspects of violence they want to focus on.  For the purpose of the vigil, violence also includes suicide, all forms of abuse and drugs and alcohol use/abuse.  Vigils are inexpensive to organize with participants needing only candles or they can even use the light from their cell phones.  Organizers can choose to march around their communities, engage in chanting slogans, assembly at a preselected point and have a keynote speaker address the gathering. As has been done in the past by some entities, organizers can also include cultural performances in their vigils.

     Voices Against Violence appeals to all to organize vigils: NGOs, Faith Based Organizations (churches, mosques, mandirs), Community Based Organizations, Special Interest Groups, Sports Clubs, Youth Groups, Professional Groups, Women’s Groups, Political Parties, Trade Unions, Business Groups – all and sundry. All vigil organizers and potential organizers are requested to contact Voices Against Violence so we can map your vigils, and provide any needed support including pre-vigil promotion and post vigil reporting. Please contact Nazim Hussain at 644-1152 or 646-4849, Leslyn Holder at 639-1189, Pandit Deodat at 627-4423, Jinnah Rahaman at 692-5672 or Sixtus Edwards at 677-3597.

         Yours faithfully,

     Annan Boodram

     Voices Against Violence

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