“It will be a great service to your country” – CDC calls for volunteers

Noting that it will be a great service to one’s country, the Civil Defence Commission (CDC) has issued a call for persons to come onboard as volunteers.
The CDC – which was established in 1982 to respond to disasters across the country – currently has a pool of 200 volunteers.
However, according to the organisation’s Public Information Officer Patrice Wishart, the CDC is always looking for persons who are willing to volunteer their time and efforts in helping others.
“We need volunteers generally. Actually, a general part of the CDC’s support system is made up of volunteers, and volunteers of all walks of life,” he explained.
Wishart noted that anyone can be a volunteer.
“Currently, our volunteer pools have persons in the civil service, we have dentists, pharmacists, we have doctors, lawyers…we also have persons who are entrepreneurs, who not only live along the coast but in the inland regions and what not. So regardless what you can bring to the table, the fact that you bring something to the table is very much all you need to volunteer with us.”
He also assured that before volunteers get dispatched to the fields, they undergo the necessary training. He noted too that in some cases, volunteers receive stipends.
“We won’t just throw you to the wolves, so to speak…when you come on as a volunteer and once you’re confirmed, you receive general training and then specific training for a particular area…”
“In some instances, and this is not generally across the board or this is not consistent, there is also the availability of stipends depending on the type of volunteerism that you do and depending on the circumstances.”
Wishart, who started at the CDC as a volunteer, explained that there are risks involved in volunteering with the CDC but he asserted that safety is the organisation’s top priority.
“We tend to operate on a very safe basis. Our number one priority is of life and limb. That being said, there are risks involved in everything that you do. For instance, when we go in to the impacted areas and there is rising floodwaters and what’s not, there is obviously [risk]. But because of the training and because of the support system the volunteers have from CDC staff, that risk is minimal because we look after them first and the persons, of course, who are impacted.”
“The minute you come on as a volunteer, the minute you receive your training and what not depending on the type of training and the type of volunteering you’re doing, you’ll get a package. If you’re going out into the field, because you have field volunteers, we give life jackets, get your rainboots, your coats, we give first aid kit, your get a snake bite kit, the full works.”
The CDC spokesperson noted that there is no limit to the number of volunteers needed at the moment. But he said with the rainy season upon us and the possibility of flooding countrywide, extra helpful hands are welcomed.
“Particularly during the rainy season now, we are anticipating heavy rainfall between early May and July. As a result, there might be some flooding, as result of that, persons might have to be relocated. For instance, we might look for volunteers to do shelter management to help with hamper distribution and that sort of thing.”
“We have a very competent department that filters and assesses which volunteers are needed when, based on their skills, based their availability, and that sort thing.”
According to Wishart, the main criteria for being a volunteer is willingness. “We’re looking for willing people. That’s essentially it,” he expressed.
“It will be a great service to your country…the Civil Defence Commission, as you know, is Government entity and as a result of that, we stretch the length and breadth of Guyana. If you’re a CDC volunteer, you will do that too…almost every time we take a trip to an affected community or an impacted area, we take a volunteer with us,” he noted.
Of the 200 volunteers registered with the CDC, most are from Regions Three (Essequibo Islands-West Demerara); Four (Demerara-Berbice); Five (Mahaica-Berbice) and Six (East Berbice-Corentyne).