Mighty Shadow – Musical me

POWER-PASSING YOUR PAST         08 24 2012


The 40 or so young adult boys and girls who escaped their jailers in Essequibo for fear of being volunteered for para-military service are back in paddock. No sooner they were all rounded up, a massive fire burnt un-controllably in an office complex and housing area. Police and soldiers from throughout Region Two were galvanized as first responders to the suspicious fires after being mobilized to re-capture the innocent and potential child soldiers according to a reliable source late Thursday evening.

Reports suggest that there has been another failed attempt at recruiting for the Joint Services. The size of new entrants hovers around 170.  For the third consecutive year recruits average 26 and this is exceptionally un-acceptable.  In the past the Home Affairs Ministry has tried recruiting unsuspecting candidates from the Amerindian hostels and riverian communities.  There are some cultural differences hinterland residents have to overcome and this has not proved cost-effective to the PPP.               

East Indians, traditionally, do not become Boy Scouts or Seventh Day Adventists in significant numbers as precursors to security jobs; not enough money in those avenues.       Security officials do a better job in getting cadets rather than regular recruits. Black folks on the other hand do relatively speaking, better at regional exams and show a better attitude for issues of discipline and obeying rule of thumbs. The Joint Services has been making moves and taking short-cuts to corral conscripts and waive their past misdeeds.  The young people at the Essequibo campus panicked and made good their escape even though short-lived.  Guyana is also going thru a trust deficit simultaneously with an in-grained distrust and mistrust for authority figures. Societal norms and practices have gone thru the backdoor and parents are now looking to children as young as eight years to go out on the streets and beg, sell drugs, pose for porn-videos and prostitute themselves.  Parents too act as pimps for their own offspring and give them shopping lists to on-line knowing fully well that the behavior they are portraying cannot be added to a resume.

These things are not happening in a backwater country; it is happening in Guyana and nobody is doing anything   Ten year old kids are committing suicide; the government knocking down teacher’s training centers to build hotels and motels and burning schools in mining communities.  Young people are finding it hard to get pass their past and see little or no future investing in education.

Education is much more than reading, ‘riting and ‘rithmetic.  It also has to do with a sense of reason and a rhythm the young people in the nation must have. A student’s past misdeeds should not be a script for his future; neither should governments exploit their failings for political gains. Giving them arms should be condemned at every level.  Guyana is not ready for child soldiers and every effort should be made to redirect and re-enforce good citizenry among juvenile delinquents.

Therefore, this week more than 40 potential soldiers ran away in protest of being drafted for weapons training. The Army and Police needs volunteers and not conscripts but the PPP is pushing ahead to wage war at several levels of society.  A few others including young girls have been caught in the community but 40 others are still at large.  Clients of these reform colleges must be given a fair shot at redeeming themselves.  Para military training should be out of the equation and this week’s episode at Onderneeming, Essequibo must be seen as isolated and not the norm.

Students must be challenged to power-pass their past and look to new vistas, new avenues for being good and useful citizens.

The PPP has failed the citizens at the Essequibo Boys School and this week 40 of them are on the loose in a community near you; beware and be aware. There was a time when the chant and rant of the community was ‘HAPPY COWS USED TO GIVE THE BEST MILK.  And if your cow or sheep strayed, rather than go to the police, farmers used to query at the Boys School for their animals because of the generous programs they had in place.  The clients too had uniforms and there was religious training and exposure.   In the days when administrators like Major George Archer and Major Leroy Benn ran the program, it was even difficult to get students to leave.  There was a certain mutuality and commonality that clients wanted to give back and delayed their departure. Onderneeming was literally a campus without iron gates and wire fencing.

Getting away en-masse was literally unheard of.  Some used to re-enlist.    COOK-UP and Messiah among others, were house parents and instructors that cultivated life-long relations with their clients.  Quitely too there were conjugal visits and pushing pass your past was almost guaranteed.  The stigma was removed.

In those days too  the ‘ Boys-school’  had a massive farm program. Rice was grown in commercial quantities and hogs were raised.  And the entire southern coast depended on the milk, chicken and eggs from the farm for sustenance.  There was also peer tutioring and civic minded citizens volunteered.  The students were so trusted that if they had to go off campus sometimes they were un-accompnied and allowed to go home at Christmas and special holidays.  “Pig-breaking-pen’ was a rarity.  Clients were always encouraged to push pass their past and become worthwhile citizens.

The juvenile offenders also did distance learning programs and  enlisted for craft courses and adopted life skills training.  They would have learnt to  operate agricultural equipment, rear pigs, harvest vegetables, carpentry, plumbing, shoe-making handicraft and other skills. It was more of an attitude adjustment and the latitude was given so that gratitude can be evoked.

Wednesday night, 40 boys got away…”pig-break-pen” was the tweat to all surrounding police stations 24 hours after the fact.  Now the school’s administration in concert with the police is calling on the community at large to take note of the movements of strangers in all sectors of the society.

Confidential information available at the time of writing suggests that the in-humane programs being pushed at the Ondereeming Centre is both puynitive and reckless.  Some charges too of a bigger built and percieved ethnic group, have been re-assigned like their supervisors for para-military training.  The youths even though they may have committed original crimes to society, are being trained to use guns and are given special priveledges.  Hence a secaurity breach.

In other words, to compensate for this wrong doing they are allowed to remain and supervise themselves as part of an un-scripted and un-documented in-house policy.

The Essequibo Boys School also used to have a steel-band, a culture corops and an ambitious athletic program.  The administrators used to ensure that the facility was self sufficient and geared towards production and productivity.  Every student was almost guaranteed a safety net coupled with a sound education.  But the best days are behind us all.  The students are protesting their virulent and vicious curriculum by breaking pen en-masse.  The Minister of Education needs to pull together a consortium of educationists, development planners, g4ass roots leaders and educationists to work in concert with the students.  It is never too late to have a robust education program especially when funds are low and people’s lives asre at stake.  The break-out students may not be armed but the society outside is just as bad or even worse than how it is perceived and labeled.

The Boys School also used to have a Steelband, a culture corps, a cricket team and an ambitious sports and atjh;etoc tea,.  Some years ago I had the personal experience of forgetting an umbrella and purse on the Parika/Adventure steamer.  I put thru a call to the administrators and one or  the boys went on board the vessel and retrieved the handbag with all its contents intact.

This week I heard of a  quasi-tragedy affecting a good friend.  He had a motor vehicle accident and rather than good citizerns helping him get to hostpital and rendering first aid, they relieved him of all his jewelery, money, partly stripped his car and took off the rims.  He also lost his dentures; that is how dangerous Guyanese have become.

Guyana has a President who does not care about who lives and who survives.  These are social ills that if allowed to continue, will prove disparaging to all and sundry.  “It is the infinitesimal things that Ramotar does not look at” a friend once said and the cumulative effect is quality of life issues and total destruction of a once noble people. END OF STORY.


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