Some four thousand youths of the hinterland will benefit from the Government’s Hinterland Employment and Youth Services (HEYS) programme by next year.
This is according to Junior Indigenous Peoples’ Affairs Minister Valerie Garrido-Lowe, who was at the time speaking at the launch of the second HEYS programme.
The 2017-2018 chapter of the programme will be executed in 100 villages across Regions One, Seven, Eight and Nine with 2000 youths set to benefit.
HEYS was first launched when the Indigenous Peoples’ Affairs Ministry partnered with several other Ministries and Regional Democratic Councils (RDCs) for the development of residents of the hinterland areas.
Minister Garrido-Lowe said that although the programme has not had a 100 per cent success rate, its purpose to build capacity of the youths in the hinterland areas has been accomplished.
The Minister who has responsibility for youth development said, “This programme is training them, showing them, giving them ideas to achieve their full potential in business, in leadership because you have public speaking and the life skill components. And I can tell you that many of them who could not speak before and they will tell you too they were not brave, but now they can express themselves. So, this programme is really doing what it is supposed to do in the hinterland.”
Finance Ministry Secretary, Dr Hector Butts, in his brief remarks, noted the importance of the programme and the role it would eventually play.
“We are expected to present a budget that reflects harmony in terms of the elements identified in moving the country forward and not because it is our responsibility, but we have to ensure that funds identified for the programme are there and that the funds are managed in an efficient and proper manner,” Butts said.
Delivering the feature address at the launch, Indigenous Peoples’ Affairs Minister Sydney Allicock said those who have thus far benefited were testimony that the programme was achieving its purpose.
Allicock recognised that hinterland youths could now become entrepreneurs and further contribute to society.
He said, “We can today celebrate the fact that our young Indigenous citizens who benefited from this programme thus far are a living testimony to the positive outcome of Government’s investment, the Ministry’s programme execution and their own commitment and hard work. We can now speak of having young, skilled and enlightened entrepreneurs in Indigenous villages and communities all across Guyana; something that two years ago we could not do.”
The longevity of the more than 350 enterprises that were established under the HEYS programme was also highlighted, and Minister Allicock said he believed that the Ministry “should in the very near future establish a monitoring and evaluation unit. This unit is necessary for ensuring that all of our programmes and projects are centrally monitored and that qualitative reports are delivered in a timely manner”.
At the launch, one young woman who benefited from the first HEYS programme spoke of her achievements.
Natucha Harris, a 17-year-old, was able to construct her own home, commence cash crop farming, and establish a mobile snackette, whose operations involve “taking snacks in a boat and paddling up the streams and down.
I also barbecue chicken on Saturdays that I rear and although I am very exhausted at the end of the day, deep down in my heart I know it’s an honest labour.”