Convincing Guyana’s prodigal sons and daughters to swap their penthouse in Manhattan for a hammock

Dear Editor,

I am writing to share my thoughts on the innovative economic strategies currently employed to boost Guyana’s development. Take, for instance, the government’s ambitious plan to host a job fair in New York to lure back the ever-elusive Guyanese diaspora. One can’t help but marvel at this stroke of genius – it’s a bit like fishing for marlin in the Hudson River.

Now, before we get too carried away with the brilliance of this plan, let’s not forget the tried-and-true method of Voluntary Service Overseas (VSO) missions. For years, VSO missions have been the backbone of developmental aid in Guyana. These saintly volunteers parachute in with their Midas touch, transforming education, healthcare, and community development with the kind of expertise that seems to elude our own local professionals. Their impact is nothing short of miraculous – they bring skills, they build capacity, and they foster global camaraderie. It’s like having a benevolent international aid fairy, sprinkling knowledge and goodwill across our land.

In contrast, the government’s job fair in New York appears to be an earnest attempt to summon the prodigal sons and daughters of Guyana back to the fold. These expatriates, with their shiny resumes and foreign polish, are expected to leap at the chance to return to a place with… let’s say, room for improvement in infrastructure and quality of life. It’s a noble plan – sort of like convincing someone to swap their penthouse in Manhattan for a hammock in the hinterlands. The idea is that these diaspora darlings will bring their expertise, savings, and a touch of that first-world gloss to our developing industries. It’s an inspired vision, assuming they don’t mind the occasional blackout or the odd pothole the size of a small car.

However, let’s not pretend either strategy is without its hiccups. VSO missions, as wonderful as they are, often resemble a revolving door of well-meaning foreigners who come and go, leaving us dependent on the next wave of external saviours. Sustainability isn’t exactly their strong suit. Meanwhile, the job fair strategy hinges precariously on the fantasy that our expats will eagerly trade their cushy lives abroad for the rugged charm of the homeland. And once they’re here, integrating them into the local job market might be as smooth as threading a needle in a hammock during a tropical storm.

In conclusion, both the venerable VSO missions and the audacious job fair initiative offer distinct, if occasionally quixotic, benefits to Guyana. VSO missions provide immediate, grassroots expertise, while the job fair dreams of leveraging the diaspora’s skills and investments for broader economic growth. Perhaps a balanced approach, one that combines the grounded wisdom of VSO missions with the lofty ambitions of the job fair, could finally propel Guyana toward its developmental potential – assuming we don’t run out of fairy dust or expats willing to swap their skyscrapers for Bungalows.


Keith Bernard