Ministry of Social Protection, August 11, 2016
Children and youths of Woodley Park, Region Five now have yet another venue to socialise and learn a skill thanks to a group of overseas-based Guyanese, including the USA Guyana Humanitarian Inc. and the Ramrattan Family of the United States.
Together, they opened a Library and Information Technology Laboratory at the Ramrattan Social Service Centre for Excellence earlier today. These facilities are now part of the Centre that was commissioned sometime back by the Ramrattan family to host the annual Academic and Skills Training Workshop for children and youths of the village.
At Thursday’s ceremony, the group simultaneously hosted the graduation ceremony for this the third batch of students who completed the annual workshop. Commending the children and youths for participating, Minister of Social Protection Volda Lawrence noted that she was happy to see the large numbers, including parents, “because we can have villages filled with children, but if we do not have families, parents, guardians and concerned citizens who recognise the value of having an education, then ventures such as these would not be successful.”
Lawrence commended the Ramrattan family and their partners and supporters for the work they have done to ensure it remains open.
“I don’t think we can measure the value of what the Ramratan family has done in this community,” she said.
The group hopes to further expand their services offered at the centre by partnering with the Ministries of Agriculture, Education, Social Cohesion and Social Protection.
The Social Protection Minister noted that since her assumption of Office, she has “focused heavily on building stronger families because it is important to our communities and country. We can have the best teachers and the facilities could be open all day, but unless the elders instill the values in children, including that education plus God equals success, they will not come here.” She noted that too often adults believe that taking children along to church is all they need, “but we have to direct our children and lead them in the right direction.”
She told the children that having academic certification is essential, but acquiring a skill is an invaluable experience, as it teaches discipline.
“You can pass on that skill to your family, even your children,” Lawrence said.
Hence, the Minister noted that her Ministry could not pass up the opportunity to partner with the supporters of these initiatives. Consequently, the Ministry of Social Protection, through the Board of Industrial Training [BIT] will begin a partnership to ensure that the Ramrattan Social Service Centre for Excellence is utilized throughout the year by hosting skills training in various fields for young people. At the moment, the facility is only opened when the Academic and Skills Training Workshop is held in August.
Treasurer of the Group, Ms. Angeli Maystry a professional teacher in the United States, said that the workshop is usually conducted in collaboration with several local volunteers and the group is working on arrangements to have the library and computer facilities open to the children all year long with the support of those volunteers.
Pandit Prabudyal Ramrattan on whose premise the Centre was erected, said he undertook the initiative in response to a need he saw locally during one of his visits home. A former teacher at the Rosignol Primary School, he left Guyana for England in 1966 and eventually settled in the United States. Pandit Ramrattan is a professional teacher and licensed acupuncturist, having taught at the University of Wales, among other schools.
“I am now retired and so I am hoping to increase my visits back home and increase the work we do home to help young people. This all got started because I was in a discussion about how to prevent suicide and so we began with providing information and soon realised that the information alone did not work, we needed to provide people with resources. Hence, we came up with the idea of providing a skill to empower people.
“Myself and family built this Centre, but we have been working with the USA Guyana Humanitarian Inc. and its supporters to conduct the activities,” he explained.
President of the USA Guyana Humanitarian Inc. Mr. Mohan Singh said that he has been friends with Pandit Ramrattan for more than 25 years and did not hesitate to partner on this venture having seen the need in many local communities. Singh explained that annually they use the workshops to teach skills in information technology, photography, entrepreneurship, agriculture, leadership, and reading.
Participants are also coursed in topical and social issues, and life skills to empower themselves, their families and community. He explained that the grouping also spread their wings in other areas, including Jamaica and New York.