“Nothing to motivate and involve young people prior to HEYS programme” – beneficiary

─ “The HEYS program empowered me and I was able to learn both theory and practical in various areas”

─ “There were no real commercial activities that can create jobs for the young people”

DPI, Guyana, Thursday, January 10, 2019

Omay Sammy is a 19-year-old beneficiary of the Hinterland Employment Youth Service (HEYS) initiative. She has received training and is now the proud owner of a community-based business in her home community, Kako Village. According to Sammy, prior to HEYS, there was “nothing to motivate and involve youths.”

Some 2,054 small but successful businesses have been established under the Ministry of Indigenous Peoples’ Affairs flagship youth program, the Hinterland Employment Youth Service (HEYS) initiative, since its commencement in 2015.

Youths from across the hinterland have received the necessary tools to become financially independent, bringing the much-needed development to their respective communities and villages.

19-year-old Sammy from Kako Village, Region 7, is the proud and joint owner of a Computer and Paper Shop which provides printing, photocopying and scanning services. She said, “the HEYS program empowered me and I was able to learn both theory and practical in various areas. I have mostly learned about ICT. Now, I have opened my small business. It is very beneficial to me and my village; especially teachers and school students”.

Reflecting on village life prior to the introduction of the HEYS Program Sammy said “there was nothing to motivate and involve young people before HEYS program. Just playing football as part of exercise and recreation. There were no real commercial activities that can create jobs for the young people. Fortunately, there came a program called Hinterland Employment Youth Service [HEYS]. This program really taught me a lot and thanks to the Government who had proposed the program and create jobs in every community”.

November last, the churches that had gathered for the annual Upper Mazaruni Youth Congress (Seventh Day Adventist Youth Congress) would have given Sammy’s business their full support for which she is grateful.

Sammy partnered with Dera, Gretchen and Maeria to ensure the business thrives.

Sherry Austin is a 27-year-old from Chenowing Village. She noted, “as a young person, HEYS has taught me the skills that I can now apply to establish my business. Also, during training, I have learnt other skills that I am now practising for the development of myself, so I can be a better individual in my community.”

“I have established my business named Sherry’s Variety Store. I begin it from scratch and is now improving although there are challenges faced in transporting stocks from Georgetown. However, it is under control… and is beneficial to myself and my village”, Austin testified.

The youth program also came in for high praises from 29-year-old Annicia Edwards from Phillipai Village, also in Region 7. The owner of Edwin’s Mini Mart.

“You know how it is sometimes, I have my business, but the selling is kinda slow at times, but it is still on. I plan to buy some more stocks. I also make handicraft and sell it back to the community from my shop”.

However, Edwards said the program has allowed them to build the capacity where they can utilize their skills effectively and as such has enabled her not only to be able to run the day to day affairs of her business but to also provide support to her village. She notes that “as a young person during my training in the HEYS program I have gained a lot and now I’m putting it into practice”.

According to the young entrepreneur, the training has enabled her to practice good leadership skills and she has since been actively involved in voluntary community work and “at present, I am working as a Phillipai Nursery Committee member and as the Community Emergency Response Team leader because I want to show my good values and qualities”.

She was also appreciative of the support received from her relatives, who during her absence, would take the reins and run the day to day affairs of her shop.

Meanwhile, Minister within the Ministry of Indigenous Peoples’ Affairs, Valerie Garrido-Lowe, during her Budget 2019 presentation in the National Assembly, said:

“The Hinterland Employment and Youth Service, has provided one year of training to 3,795 youths in 222 villages over the last two years. This training allows for capacity building, strengthening of life skills, bolstering literacy and numeracy skills, creating self-awareness and building esteem, strengthening individual vocational interests and entrepreneurial aptitudes.”

Businesses range from cattle rearing, Poultry Rearing (Broilers, Layers and Ducks), Crops & Vegetable Farming, Nursery (Grafting of Fruit Trees), Fishing, Fish Farming, Sheep, Goat and Pig Rearing, Cassava Bread/ Quinches/Cassareep Production, Honey Production, hardware stores, floating grocery store “you name it and the HEYS is doing it”, the minister pointed out.

Government has invested some $2.3Billion for the development of youth in the hinterland and according to Minister Garrido-Lowe, “in the 2019 Budget, in order to ensure that these businesses grow in strength and flourish, a further $176.1 MILLION is allocated for monitoring and mentoring, along with additional monetary support”.

By: Ministry of Indigenous Peoples’ Affairs – Alethea Grant.


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