Hinterland residents versed in native dialects to be trained as welfare officers

GINA, GUYANA, Monday, September 19, 2016

The Ministry of Social Protection has embarked on training Indigenous persons, skilled in their native dialect as welfare officers to better serve hinterland residents.

In an interview with the Government Information Agency (GINA), Minister of Social Protection, Volda Lawrence said the aim is to bridge the language barrier between the hinterland and coastland, so that residents of hinterland communities will have an equal opportunity of having their voices heard.

Minister of Social Protection, Volda Lawrence

Minister of Social Protection, Volda Lawrence

The Minister noted that the language barrier has resulted in those communities being left behind.

Minister within the Ministry of Indigenous Peoples’ Affairs, Valerie Garrido-Lowe in her 2016 budget debate presentation, had indicated that her Ministry was very concerned about the social issues plaguing Indigenous communities. These, the minister listed as teenage pregnancy, rape and sexual violence among others.

Minister Garrido-Lowe noted that her Ministry will continue to collaborate with the Ministry of Social Protection to initiate programmes and activities to tackle these issues.

“In 2015, the Ministry of Indigenous Peoples’ Affairs embarked on a sensitisation programme together with the Ministry of Social Protection, where workshops were held in Regions One, Seven and Eight where village leaders were taught about the Sexual Offences Act, Trafficking in Persons, domestic violence and alcohol and drug abuse,” Minister Garrido-Lowe stated.

The Social Protection Ministry will collaborate with the Ministry of Indigenous Peoples’ Affairs to ensure that persons in Regions One, Seven, Eight and Nine who are versed in their native dialect are trained as welfare officers. These persons will work along with the other welfare officers stationed in those regions.

This initiative will not only break the language barrier, but will also create employment for the residents. “We are striving to see betterment in all the Indigenous communities, and we will work to ensure that happens,” Minister Lawrence promised.

There are four main Indigenous tribes; the Warraus, Arawaks, Wapishanas and the Caribs, and several sub tribes, Arecunas, Akawaios, Patamonas, and the Mackusis, each of which can be identified by their individual language.

The Indigenous peoples have long been asking for support to maintain their languages as part of their cultural preservation.

In June, 2016, government allocated $2M to boost the Warrau language preservation project in Kamwatta Hill, Region One. Minister Garrido-Lowe who is spearheading the project has since announced that several other indigenous languages are to be added. The Ministry’s 2017 budget will cater for the additions.

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