By Lakhram Bhagirat
Every community is different. It has its own set of rules, customs and traditions and when we introduce those things that make that community unique, it creates a recipe for exchange – the exchange of stories, experiences and knowledge that leads to the further development of surrounding areas.
That is the goal of young Kyle Anthony Joseph. He is on a mission to link the communities in the Rupununi with each other and then take that link even further to other Indigenous villages.
At just 22, Kyle is already making his mark in the Amerindian communities in the Rupununi. He currently serves as a United Nations Volunteer with UNICEF as a Youth Advocate for Monitoring and Evaluation. It is a post he holds dearly since his interest lies in youth development and bridging the communities.
“The main purpose of what I do has to do with linking the Georgetown-based UNICEF with rural communities. They wanted someone from the region. Someone who has grown up here and understand the life here and have those programmes implemented. I really go out a lot in the communities to find out certain programmes have been implemented and how I can get more people involved and promote more volunteerism and how they can help UNICEF and our mandate,” he said.
The Aishalton, South Rupununi youth takes great pride in executing his functions. Though it has only been a few months since he officially started with UNICEF, Kyle has been giving back to his community for quite some time.
Having lived in Aishalton for the first seven years of his life, Kyle moved to Georgetown where he got his schooling until he was in Grade Five. He then moved back to his village where he completed his primary education. Achieving a place at Queen’s College in Georgetown meant that Kyle would have to move again to the capital city.
He received a Hinterland Scholarship to pursue his secondary education and it was from there that the idea of giving back and meaningfully occupying his time was birthed.
After he completed his secondary schooling, Kyle had a plan in mind and that plan was to become a medical doctor. To pursue his dream career, Kyle was granted a scholarship through the United World Congress (UWC) colleges. He was one of four Guyanese students that were selected in 2015 and he completed studies in Natural Sciences at the UWC College in Canada.
The UWC emphasises a holistic curriculum for its students and it meant time spent in community services. That further fostered Kyle’s growing love of helping those in need.
“The curriculum there [at UWC] was not just work alone but a lot of extracurricular activities and volunteerism. They pushed the idea of helping your community or just a small group by just giving your time. I saw a lot of my colleagues doing that, and even now because we have a great network, and that further drove me to volunteerism.
“Originally I wanted to become a doctor and that was the plan but within the last two years volunteering I really saw my passion in being around here and being involved in social work and how it can go a long way for young people especially. The goal now is to find my niche in volunteering. If I can continue working within the NGO field that has been interacting with young people and helping them to better their community that would be my end goals.”
Now that he has identified his new goal, Kyle has been working assiduously to achieve that. He was given the post with UNICEF because of voluntary work he had already been doing. He had been at the helm of organising and planning various youth conferences, particularly the Indigenous Youth Conference in Deep South Rupununi.
Additionally, he has been working on getting a radio programme that focuses on youth issues.
“I noticed that there is not a lot to do because it is not really a developed place as yet so just to have conversations going around that topic. I feel like that a lot of people don’t put resources into finding things for young people to do. There is not a lot to do in here [Rupununi].
“There is a lack of access to information in Region Nine because the information is available just in Lethem and that is what I want to change. That is where I am focusing on now, to get that network because, with my work and the work I had done previously, we had tried to get young people together through conferences and meetings. Even now, with the work I do, I travel a lot to communities, I try to get them into contact with other villages and so on. My goal is to create a link between these communities, especially for the youths.”
For now, he is urging the youths to dream big and think beyond their village borders. His goal is for every young Amerindian to find their niche and be the best they can be while helping to develop their communities.