Engaging the religious community in youth development

One wonders how Guyanese — generally a highly religious people, with many belonging to one faith-based organisation/denomination or the other — have become so blasé’ and deteriorated; to the level where seemingly human life has become so exterminable that murders, suicides and other ills hardly impact on the consciousness anymore, except as transient incidents on the periphery of dancehall and chutney shows and neighbourhood gossip.
But even those who have diverged into the pathways of rampant criminality almost always have their roots firmly embedded in the faith of their fathers, the teachings of which are most often inculcated in them from childhood by their mothers.
Guyana’s faith-based organisations had the benefit of a training programme for religious leaders on domestic violence, held in October of 2006 at the National Cultural Centre. This was an initiative by the administration to address concerns of the escalating ills of the society, and at that forum, then President Bharrat Jagdeo had expressed his appreciation for the continuum of support that he had received from the religious community.
President Jagdeo had used the opportunity to appeal to community and religious leaders to reach out to the youths who are at the crossroads of their lives, especially during that crucial time of puberty, when vital life-changing choices can create a criminal or a pillar of the society.
Many children with single parents wander unknowingly into dangerous pathways that destroy their entire lives, all because of lack of guidance in the right direction by caring community support systems, in lieu of a mother who may work long and unrelenting hours to provide the wherewithal of their basic needs.
The structure of the current society is such that, rather than a hand being held out to guide a child to choose the right path on which to walk to safety, there are drug dealers and ‘sugar-daddies’, among others of their ilk, who exploit the vulnerability of children in their transitional stages of growth without caring about the destruction that they are causing to the lives and the future of their hapless victims.
Only mothers who have experienced the helplessness and the terror can relate to the circumstances whereby single parents are forced to endure the deterioration of their children’s opportunities because they have been led astray by cruel and exploitive persons. Many a single mother has agonised over the wrong choices her children have made because circumstances did not allow her the time nor the opportunity to give her children the requisite guidance and care that would provide the emotional and psychological security that would have allowed a safety net to protect them from opportunistic predators; and only such a mother can appreciate the real security of the community support system that President Jagdeo was advocating.
He had averred that the religious leaders of societies are on “the frontline,” but whether they can make the good generals that would lead their respective communities to a cleaner and more moral society is yet to be seen. Nevertheless, he expressed his faith in their ability to pilot the society’s ship into calmer and more peaceful waters.
The faith of our fathers once made this nation a uniquely ethical and moral one; a clarion call by the current administration to the religious leaders to restore the nation to that state once more may precipitate the restoration of the reputation of Guyanese to that of the days of yore.