Over $3M in grants for South Rupununi communities

─ residents eager to start community projects

─ pleased with govt’s support

DPI, Guyana, Sunday, January 20, 2019

Over $3M was given to villages in the South Rupununi, Upper Takutu-Upper Essequibo, Region 9 as grants to embark on green sustainable community projects.

This was handed over by Minister of Indigenous Peoples’ Affairs, Sydney Allicock who led a team comprising Ministerial Advisor, Mervyn Williams and Legal Advisor, David James, to the region over the last four days. The team visited and met with residents of Shulinab, Quiko and Patarinau in South Central, and Shea, Mururanau and Awarewaunau in the Deep South and Yupukuri in the North Rupununi.

At the Shea Village, the Toshao Francis Rufino received the over $1M to restock the Village Shop and revitalise the women’s group.

Toshao Rufino explained that the Village Shop was constructed in 2016 when the previous village received over $1M to execute the project. “The project was going well until the shopkeeper started to credit the goods to the residents and the business run down so what we are doing now is trying to get the people to pay back some of the money and move forward.”

The Toshao said that he is grateful for the additional support he is receiving from the government so that he can move forward with the development of his village. He said that part of the money will be used to restock the shop and the council will be recruiting a qualified resident within the village to manage the business.

The remaining funds will be spent on purchasing sewing machines, a gas stove and other equipment for the twenty-member village women’s group.

Sandra Rodrigues, one of the members of the women’s group explained that a building was already constructed under the previous group, and so, the plan is to furnish the building and get the women of the village fully involved in the project.

Rodrigues will be doing sewing for the school and villagers and catering for community events and officials who will be visiting the village from time to time. “Our aim is to create employment for the women, most of who are home doing nothing at the moment.”

Additionally, under the Presidential Grant Fund, Quiko, a satellite village of Shulinab, South Central Rupununi, received an $800,000 cheque through Toshao Ronald Ignatius for constructing the building for the Quiko Village Shop. The shop currently occupies the village office.

The 29-year-old village leader told the Department of Public Information (DPI) he is pleased with the support given by the government and is looking forward to additional support to advance the development of his village.

“I was a bit worried because this is 2018 project and I wanted to get my work started early for this year. There is a lot of work to be done and I already set my work plan for the year. The project is an ongoing one… We need a separate building for it because, currently, we are using our village office for the shop,” the Toahao explained.

The Toshao said that he has already consulted with his people and the 2019 Presidential Grant will be used to construct a Community Benab to host social activities and community engagements.

Minister Allicock urged the village to use these projects to bring unity among their villagers rather than division.

“This is not to say which church group you belong to or which party you belong to, this is a community project and it is for everybody and we would like you to come together in building your community.”

He said that these community ventures must benefit all of the residents and urged Village Councils to ensure their records of village assets are in order.

The minister also urged them to submit proposals for 2019 as early as possible, as approximately $235M was approved in the 2019 National Budget for Presidential Grants. An $800,000 cheque was also made available for Churikadnau to construct a village bond.

By: Synieka Thorne

Images: Anil Seelall

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