Presidential Grants transforming village economies, lives

― Patarinau Village latest beneficiary

DPI, Guyana, Monday, March 25, 2019

The village of Patarinau in the South Rupunini, Region 9 is the latest beneficiary of the Presidential Grant programme that allows hinterland villages to access funding to start or continue projects that generate income and provide jobs for residents within the community.

Patarinau, which is located about two hours South of Lethem, has a population of 613, mostly Makushi residents, spread across its three satellite villages, Baitoon, Katuur, and Shiriri.

Patarinau Village, Region 9.

On Sunday, Minister of Indigenous Peoples’ Affairs, Sydney Allicock handed almost $3M in grants to three of the four villages in the area: $1M was presented to Patarinau for the establishment of a women sewing centre, and $800,000 each to Baitoon and Katuur for the upgrading of a trail and upgrading of a sports ground pavilion respectively.

Patarinau’s village councillor and member of the women’s group, Mary Fernandes explained that while the men in the village are engaged in farming and cattle rearing and other jobs, there are little or no activities for women in the area. It is for this reason, the village council decided to construct a women’s sewing centre with its 2019 presidential grant fund.

“We have difficulties with sewing uniforms and other clothing in the village… most of the women received training in Lethem and they are just there doing nothing so we want to get this building up and running so they can use it,” Fernandes said, adding that the complex will be equipped with sewing machines and facilities, and utensils to do catering.

She said that the presidential grant programme has been assisting in transforming the village. She praised the government for its continued support and is optimistic that support will continue.

Brian Melville, Senior councillor of Katuur, said that the funds will allow the village to upgrade its pavilion to host inter-school sports and other social activities. He said that the ground itself is already in a good condition.

Treasurer of the Baitoon Village Council, Mark Anthony said that monies will be used to upgrade the village main road leading to Lethem. He noted that during the rainy season the road is in a bad state and poses a difficulty for residents to traverse to conduct business or sell their products in the town.

“We will be organising ourselves right away to finish the work before the rains. The village will be engaged in self-help to ensure the work is completed in a timely manner and the monies will be calculated right here.”

At a community meeting in the compound of the Patarinau Community Centre, Minister Allicock reiterated that the aim of the programme is to increase investment, strengthen village economies and advance community development.

Therefore, the minister said that village leaders must ensure proper management and accountability of the projects initiated from these funding.

“In the past, we have seen projects just start and collapse. We want you to understand that this is a partnership in development, we are meeting you half way and so we want you to manage these projects properly… so that you have a facility that is useful. It supposed to be working for you.” He added, “it is about your development, planning for your children and even for yourself when you get older.”

Minister Allicock urged the people to continue to work together for the development of their villages. He said that the government intends to see Indigenous villages become self-sufficient, thereby reducing the dependence on government support.

The Presidential Grant programme is aimed at creating self-sufficiency within the hinterland villages and communities through green, innovative projects that will create jobs and at the same time generate income for the village. This year, over $200M will be invested in 215 villages and communities under the programme.

Last week, Kopinang and Bamboo Creek in Pataro- Siparuni, Region 8; and Wakapau, Kabakaburi, St. Monica and Mainstay/Whyaka in the Pomeroon-Supenaam, Region 2 received presidential grants over $8M.

Synieka Thorne.

Images: Kennyann Bacchus.