I write to commend The Caribbean Voice and other groups and individuals for planning and organising a vigil, “Voices Against Violence”, to be held on September 10. With rising violence in Guyana and around the globe, that kind of social activism is needed now more than ever. I appeal to the public to join the organisers to help make the vigil a success – a virtual cost free vigil that benefits the nation and that promotes harmony.
The vigil is an attempt to get communities across Guyana to engage in anti-violence activism, while fostering the concept of communal action for community well being. The candle light vigil coincides with World Suicide (an act of self-inflicted violence) Prevention Day. The vigil is held under the theme, ‘Connect Communicate Care’, an initiative that is inexpensive and easy to organise in bringing communities together. According to the organisers, each participant simply needs a candle or can even use a cell phone. Vigils can be organised by religious institutions, local businesses, sports and youth clubs, political party groups or just about any entity. Where possible, two or more groups can collaborate to make it effective. Each vigil can select routes around the community, end at a central point or any other selected place where the participants can be accommodated and hold a rally whereby pre-selected individuals from within or out of the community can speak on the theme of anti-violence and, if desired, inter faith prayers can be conducted. During the walk, anti-violence slogans can be chanted.
As the organisers noted, for the purposes of this vigil, all of the following are considered as acts of violence, either against oneself or others: trafficking, suicide, drug and alcohol addiction, domestic and child abuse, rape, incest, teenage pregnancy, road carnage, dysfunctional relationships, neglect of the elderly and abuse of the mentally and physically challenged. Besides, relationship violence and its dysfunctional socialization, which are more and more looming as issues of critical urgency, do shape personalities that easily gravitate towards crime and attending violence. Thus, violence should be addressed holistically and when communities come together, they can begin to become more caring and build more togetherness, while getting their feet wet in the practice of mindfulness. In effect, anti-violence must become everybody’s business and immediately so! The candle light vigil, held in communities throughout the nation, is a step in this direction.
Guyana is small both in terms of demographics and inhabited landscape, making this vigil very doable, especially given that most of what needs to be harnessed is already in place. Our history teaches that politics, race and religion are never obstacles in the face of the peoples’ willpower and resolve. Besides, the vigil will foster community collaboration and racial harmony, with a focus on saving lives and preventing harm, and fostering the process of societal transformation.
Several groups are on board including Golden Om Dharmic Youth, Save Abee Foundation, Orchid Foundation, Anna Catherina Islamic Complex, NJASM, Art of Living (Guyana), Nirvana Humanitarian Foundation, Imagine Nation Foundation, GIVE Foundation, Monique’s Helping Hands, Guyana Women’s Roundtable, and Miss Universe Guyana. Other NGOs, the media, and the government should lend their support. Community leaders, business people, including religious institutions, sports clubs and other organisations need to join the effort so that it is held in every community. The organisers are appealing for groups or individuals to spearhead a vigil in their community.
Vigil organisers can be contacted at 621-6111 or 223-2637. Other organisers are Pandit Deodat at 627-4432 and Chandanie at 697-9968. In North America, call Anna at 646-461-0574, Ty at 646-589-3135 or Sham at 954-778-3222. Send email to email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org,email@example.com or firstname.lastname@example.org. Or contact any of the following persons via Facebook, Deodat Persaud, Chandanie Rooplall, Bibi Ahamad, Ty Talbot, or Annan Boodram.