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|Starting in schools…|
|Tuesday, 15 May 2012 00:06|
Diplomats kick off ‘Guyana Shines’ clean-up drive
THE diplomatic community in Guyana, in collaboration with civic partners, kicked off its ‘Guyana Shines’ project yesterday, at St. Margaret’s Primary School, on Camp Street, Georgetown. The venue is the first of a number of schools identified for this new initiative and it has an ‘environment club’.
Guyana Shines is a recently formed grouping of diplomats and others in civil society involved in environmental work and seeking to encourage and mobilise Guyanese communities to maintain clean surroundings, specifically returning Georgetown to its glory days of being known as the ‘Garden City’.
The objective is to reach out to schools and communities to increase awareness of the harmful effects of littering and pollution and encourage individuals to make environmentally friendly decisions in their own lives and places where they live.
The group is targeting educational institutions because they believe that education is the first step to making changes that could, positively, make an impact.
The grouping was formed in recognition of ‘Earth Day’ which was observed in 175 countries on April 22 and aims to increase awareness and appreciation of the Earth's natural environment. This year’s theme was ‘Using A Billion Acts of Green to Mobilise the Earth’ and it is in recognition of Earth Day and ‘Mobilise the Earth’ that the United States (U.S.) Embassy, together with the British High Commission, the Canadian High Commission, the European Union Delegation, Conservation International, Environmental Community Health Organisation (ECHO) and Youth Challenge Guyana, all in Georgetown, initiated ‘Guyana Shines’.
U.S. Ambassador, Mr. Brent Hardt; Canadian High Commissioner, Mr. David Devine and British High Commissioner, Mr. Andrew Ayre and their wives took time to sensitise and interact with the schoolchildren on the undertaking, the importance of keeping their environment clean and the role they can play in this regard.
Ambassador Hardt told the Guyana Chronicle: “We all believe Guyana is a very beautiful country. We know it’s a country that is leading the way in terms of preserving the natural beauty and the trees and all that. But we also saw that Georgetown, as a city, is not as beautiful as it could be.”
He said they have come together to try to give a little encouragement and believe that change can happen through education and “that’s why we are here in the school today.”
The envoy recalled that, when he was young in school, there were such programmes that made people think and change the way they act, because, at the end of the day, it really is not about who is cleaning up litter but preventing litter and people making the right decisions.
“So we are trying to encourage and inspire young people and the next part is we want to work with some communities. We don’t just want to do a clean-up and then it gets dirty, again. We want to get communities to become involved in civic action,” he emphasised.
Hardt observed that, in all countries, what makes a difference are people getting involved and, as such, they are going to get together with schools, churches and other community groups, businesses and Government to “make our neighbourhoods some place special.”
“Through Guyana Shines, my diplomatic colleagues and I and our teams are seeking to bring people together in communities all around Guyana and, specifically in Georgetown, to take civic responsibility for their communities,” he said.
“So we are going to be working with specific neighbourhoods. We will start with two and then we will keep going from there and we will be supporting the clean-up. We will be participating in the clean-up and, hopefully, generate actions that will ensure that the communities themselves will take that responsibility and make it a lasting clean place,” Hardt outlined.
He reiterated: “We think Guyana is a beautiful place and Georgetown is a beautiful city and we just want it to be even more beautiful and let the young people here, who are so wonderful, grow up in a country that is as clean and as beautiful as it can be.”
Hardt said, as part of their programme, over the next couple of weeks about 14 schools will be targeted in this round.
“Our goal is to continue, so, if we are successful and we have a lot of interest, we will keep going. We hope to make an enduring contribution over the time we are here,” he said.
Canadian High Commissioner, Mr. Devine, said they are taking the opportunity to talk to the children about the importance of cleaning up the environment “because we think it’s everybody’s responsibility and it starts at a very young age.”
“We have got to be able to take responsibility; each and every one of us must be able to make sure that we keep Guyana clean and healthy and make Guyana shine,” he echoed.
Continuing, he said: “We are working in schools across Georgetown to be able to spread that message.”
Devine said other activities will be rolled out, such as clean-up exercises and some of the schools will be competing with each other to be able to make sure “they have got the brightest and cleanest neighbourhoods.”
ECHO Executive Director, Mr. Royston King said the organisation is facilitating ‘Guyana Shines’ in the school system within which they have already established clubs.
“We hope that, through the clubs, the work of ‘Guyana Shines’ will spread throughout the school community not only in schools where you have ECHO-clubs but also in schools where we are now trying to set them up. We hope that there will be a rippling effect and that we can see results in the physical appearance of the environment,” he said.
King is also hopeful of seeing a double effect with a reduction of litter in the schools environment and less in the wider community.
“We are hoping that what happens in the school community spills over to the wider community.”
The campaign will be moving to other schools like F.E Pollard, Ketley, Stella Maris, Agricola, Enterprise and South Ruimveldt primaries.
“It is a really good initiative to see members of the Diplomatic Corps, actually, coming out and assisting in doing something really practical, something tangible, something that people can see and emulate. It is a really good initiative and we hope that this will spread to many of our other leaders in local communities and we will see the leaders playing a more visible role in helping to clean up our environment,” King said.
He observed that the “problem of litter is perhaps the most worrying challenge we face, not only in Georgetown but in Guyana as a country.”
Headmistress of St. Margaret’s Primary, Ms. Georgiana Lewis said: “We are elated to have our visitors, especially for the purpose for which they came.”
“We, as a group here and our environmental group ECHO, have been working hard at trying to educate the public about the littering and making Georgetown a clean and safe city,” she said.
A joint statement on ‘Guyana Shines’, issued through the U.S. Embassy last month, said: “Keeping Georgetown clean is important for Guyana and its people. It is necessary for good health and sanitation. It encourages tourism, supports biodiversity, increases property values, ensures clean waterways to avoid flooding and improves the community spirit and quality of life.”
“Armed with garbage bags, gloves and determination, our teams will work together with local groups – youths, schools, churches and businesses – to clean up neighbourhoods and make them shine,” the declaration said.
It added: “If everyone plays his or her part, we believe Georgetown will be transformed, so the natural beauty of Guyana can shine forth, again.”
|Last Updated on Tuesday, 15 May 2012 00:11|
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