Voices Against Violence – Guyana Anti-Violence Vigil – Suicide Prevention Day, Sep 10, 2016

Voices Against Violence – Guyana Anti-Violence Vigil

Suicide Prevention Day, September 10, 2016

“Voices Against Violence” is an attempt to get communities across Guyana involved in anti-violence activism, while fostering the concept of communal action for community well being. This candle light vigil, set for World Suicide Prevention Day, September 10, 2016, is an initiative that is inexpensive and easy to organize – each participant simply needs a candle or can even use a cell phone – and that brings communities together.

Thus vigils can be organized by religious institutions, local businesses, sports and youth clubs, political party groups…just about any entity or set of individuals including schools. Where possible, two or more groups can collaborate. Each vigil can select routes around the community, end at a central point or any other selected place where the participants can be accommodated and hold a rally whereby pre selected individuals from within or without the community can speak on the theme of anti-violence and, if desired, inter faith prayers can be conducted. During the walk about anti-violence slogans can be chanted.  

For the purposes of this vigil all of the following are considered acts of violence either against self or others: trafficking, suicide, drug and alcohol addiction, domestic and child abuse, rape, incest, teenage pregnancy, road carnage, dysfunctional relationships, neglect of the elderly, abuse of the mentally and physically challenged. Besides, relationship violence and its dysfunctional socialization spawn, which are more and more looming as issues of critical urgency, can and do shape personalities that easily gravitate towards crime and attending violence. Thus, violence should be addressed holistically and when communities come together they can begin to become more caring and build more togetherness while getting their feet wet in the practice of mindfulness. In effect, anti-violence must become everybody’s business and immediately so! The candle light vigil, held in communities throughout the nation, is a step in this direction.

At the end of the day, Guyana is small enough, both in terms of demographics and inhabited landscape, for this vigil to be eminently doable, especially given that most of what needs to be harnessed is already in place. In fact, Guyana’s history teaches that politics, race, religion are never obstacles in the face of people’s willpower and resolve.  Besides, the vigil will foster community collaboration, focus on saving lives and preventing harm, and foster the process of societal transformation.

Currently, The Caribbean Voice, Golden Om Dharmic Youth, Save Abee Foundation. Orchid Foundation, Anna Catherina Islamic Complex and GIVE Foundation, are the organizations coordinating this vigil. But as the days go by we hope to have other NGOs involved, as well as the media and government agencies and ministries. Also we appeal to local and community leaders, businessmen and other influential persons as well as community organizations, including religious institutions and sports club, to please help bring off this activity by ensuring that a vigil is organized in every community, collaboratively where possible.

So that we can map all vigils, provide any necessary assistance, including publicity and ensure that all vigils are acknowledged and lauded, The Caribbean Voice is requesting that all vigil organizers/potential organizers do contact us ASAP.

Call Bibi at 621-6111 or 223-2637, Pandit Deodat at 627-4432 or Chandanie at 697-9968; send email to bibiahamad1@hotmail.comkeshni.rooplall@yahoo.comdeodatpersaud25@yahoo.com  or caribvoice@aol.com, IM Deodat Persaud, Chandanie Rooplall, Bibi Ahamad or Annan Boodram on Facebook.

Voices Against Violence

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  • guyaneseonline  On 08/21/2016 at 11:59 pm

    Please take politics of out of suicide prevention; this is about saving lives

    The Caribbean Voice is deeply saddened by the fact that political posturing trumped the need to save lives as “a parliamentary motion expressing concern for Guyana’s alarming suicide rate, quickly descended into a politicised debate marked by blame-throwing” (as one local media described it). Indeed a motion calling for urgent action to save lives transformed into an argument as to who’s stealing who’s work, as our smart politicians sought to score political points rather than come together to arrest the suicide epidemic that is stalking the land.
    The fact of the matter is that the PPP, while in government, aborted the one mechanism that was beginning to make a difference, the Gatekeepers Program. And while the Pesticide Board had agreed to roll out an adaptation of the Shri Lankan Hazard Reduction Model to tackle pesticide suicide, that went nowhere after the change of Government last May.
    Also we all know that current government just completed one year in office but at the beginning of that year the promises rained down while the only mechanism put in place so far is the suicide hotline that has neither been widely publicized nor is used to any significant extent by the population. We are still waiting for the roll out of counselors in schools, which, according to Education Minister, Dr. Rupert Roopnarine, was set to start earlier this year, in February. Ditto for the other measures talked about – Gatekeepers’ Program, a mechanism to address pesticide suicide, implementation of the Mental Health Plan and so on.
    So it befuddles the mind that our politicians are quarreling about who’s stealing who’s thunder while suicide continues to be a ‘norm’ with at least 15 so far for August, of which at least eight were not reported in the media! Perhaps more befuddling however, is this constant urge to reinvent the wheel when there are already tried and tested strategies, measures and best practices that can be adapted to suit the Guyana social landscape. This constant reinventing, which always seem to be arrested mid stream, eats up financial and other resources, time and efforts that can significantly help in tackling the range of mental health and social issues that stalk the land.
    Furthermore, given that the call for collaboration echoed by both sides of the house, one would have thought that our political leaders would pit heads together and come up with a plan whose implementation would reflect the urgency of necessary action. One option would have been to send the bill to committee to thrash out something acceptable at a bipartisan level that would not water down the necessary mechanisms for suicide prevention. Another suggestion would be to set up a broad based committee that includes the government, opposition, civil society and NGO stakeholders to rework the motion and have it jointly sponsored by a member of the government and a member of the opposition.
    Meanwhile the process of collaboration can start immediately with the only other thing both sides agreed one – decriminalizing attempted suicide. We call upon the relevant ministry to draft the necessary legislation and lay it in parliament ASAP and we request the opposition to give full support so this archaic law can be taken off the books.
    Given the spate of murder/suicide/attempted suicide and of youth suicide and attempted suicide over the past few months, addressing violence in general and suicide and abuse in particular are becoming increasingly urgent imperatives. Thus we sincerely hope that the government, especially the relevant ministries, will immediately begin to transform rhetoric into action and roll out the various plans and measures that have been propagated over the last year or so. And we also hope that efforts would seriously be made to include the NGOs that are actually bending their backs to make a difference so that they can be able to extend and expand their work, especially in the rural areas and countryside, where the need is greatest. To protest that resources are not available to do what needs to be done would be so facetious given the almost one billion dollar spent on a park used for the Jubilee celebration and the additional billions spent on the many faceted, lavish manifestations of this celebration. Surely our government cannot argue that partying is more critical than saving lives and empowering people.
    On another note we were so happy to notice that self-esteem was on the menu for training program for young ladies held recently. While the news article did not mention it, we also hope coping skills was included. However, we want to point out, as we have done before, that self esteem and coping skills must be included in all training programs, anywhere, especially for the young, since it is evident that lack of these two skill sets significantly contributes to both suicide and abuse. We also reemphasize that any and all such training programs must not be one off but should be taken countrywide, to have a sustained, national effect.
    And speaking of collaboration, The Caribbean Voice and the 25 plus NGO partners, welcome the endorsement of Public Security Minister, Khemraj Ramjattan for “Voices Against Violence National Candlelight Vigil” set for World Suicide Prevention Day, September 10. We hope other Ministries and even President Granger will find it possible to also endorse this vigil, which aims to bring communities together to harness efforts for social action, and to urge all communities to get involved. To date over 25 vigils are confirmed in almost all the regions, and we expect this figure to more than double by the time September 10 comes around.
    Meanwhile we also urge communities and all organizations to band together and plan vigils in communities across Guyana. For further information, clarification, assistance and to have vigils mapped and publicized, please call Bibi at 621-6111 or 223-2637, Pandit Deodat at 627-4432, Keshni Rooplall at 697-9968, Nazim S Hussain at 644-1152, Dolly Singh at 266-5617. Send email to bibiahamad1@hotmail.com, keshni.rooplall@yahoo.com, deodatpersaud25@yahoo.com or caribvoice@aol.com.

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