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Annan Boodram
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Man of many mirrors. Educator, social activist, journalist, writer, academic.
Man of many mirrors. Educator, social activist, journalist, writer, academic.

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US$32,000 suicide prevention programme to come on stream next year

Areas that are known to have the highest suicide rates will be among the key targets for a strategic programme slated to be implemented next year.
The lay counsellor programme which will ensure high-burden areas within Regions Two, Five and Six are reached, is estimated to be executed at a cost of US$32,000 for a one-year period by The Caribbean Voice [TCV], a non-governmental organisation [NGO].
TCV has among its primary aim the need to help improve mental and physical health by focusing on measures to reduce violence and suicide.
In its quest to give even more focus to the challenge of suicide, which sometimes follows an act of homicide, TCV has taken the initiative to introduce the lay counsellor programme.
Tasked with coordinating the programme is TCV’s Education and Training Director, Ms. Leslyn Holder. She, however, disclosed recently that the organisation has consistently been doing its part to help combat the scourge of suicide and violence too.
“We have been doing countrywide awareness, capacity building, training; we have been running with a trainer of trainers programme for suicide prevention and we are now embarking on more in-depth training for our anti-violence programme,” Holder related.
But the lay counsellor programme will essentially see the organisation taking its efforts even further.
“Our lay counsellor programme, which we decided to put in place, sort of replaces what was known as the gate-keepers programme,” said Holder. According to her, “The lay counsellor programme is similar in content but focuses more on persons in the community becoming trainers themselves and first responder.”
As she spoke of the plans to implement the one-year programme, Holder said, “We hope to cover all of the 10 regions in Guyana but for some of the more high burden regions like Five, Six and Two we will have to run more than one sessions.”
The lay counsellor programme, according to TCV’s National Coordinator, Nazim S. Hussain, will be held in three-day sessions at a time. But in order to ensure that this programme is implemented effectively, Hussain said that the NGO is also looking for support.
“We are looking forward to nation-wide support, especially corporate support…,” said the National Coordinator who revealed that thus far the programme support has been forthcoming from KFC in the sum of US$8,000.
Marketing Manager of KFC [Guyana], Livasti Bhooplall, in handing over the financial support earlier this year to Hussain, said that KFC is very proud to be contributing to the lay counsellor initiative even as she encouraged other members of Corporate Guyana to donate to the cause too.
Bhooplall, in recognizing the importance of the venture, said that KFC was pleased to get on board since the initiative is one that will see all 10 administration regions being able to benefit. She added, Guyana is in critical need of these types of training programmes since the daily news is filled with domestic violence.
“This is the first time that a company has come on board to support us like this and we are hoping that others would do the same,” said Hussain as he too asked that other companies emulate what KFC has done.
The need for support is important Holder added, since “suicide prevention is everybody’s business. If at no other time, this is the time for us to collaborate against what is happening in our country. We all need to work together to ensure awareness is raised countrywide.”
According to Holder too, while the organisation is aiming to especially target specific areas, often the situation that exists is that focus is directed to some sections of the country while others, where the need is most, are neglected.
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TCV begins countrywide mental health, suicide workshops

Several workshops were conducted by the Caribbean Voice (TCV) as that non-governmental organisation (NGO) continued its efforts to eradicate suicide and mental health issues.
Two sessions were recently held with youths from Regions Two (Pomeroon-Supenaam) and Five (Mahaica-Berbice) in the areas of abuse and suicide in collaboration with the Ministry of the Presidency.
In the last three months, addiction workshops were also organised and led by Canada-based addiction specialist Shirvington Hannays.
These were conducted at the Child Care and Protection Agency (CCPA) in Region Four (Demerara-Mahaica) and at the Fort Wellington Secondary School in collaboration with the West Berbice Cricket Board.
For 2018, over 500 teachers were also involved in four mental health workshops held in collaboration with the Guyana Teachers Union (GTU) at the Canje Secondary School, Berbice High School, Leonora Secondary School, and Friendship Secondary School.
With support from the respective sugar estates and Guyana Agricultural WorkersUnion (GAWU), mental health workshops were held for sugar workers at Skeldon and Albion Estates.
In the coming week, a presentation on suicide will be made to staff and students at The Upper Corentyne Industrial Training Centre at Corriverton, Region Six (East Berbice-Corentyne), while others will follow at Black Bush Polder in November.
Four surveys have also been conducted, which provided information on the public’s view on the establishment of a registry of sex offenders. In the most recent one, findings showed a significant support for mandated counselling for all persons with mental health issues who appear in courts to answer charges.
Additionally, information from the survey indicate that all healthcare workers and educators should be mandated to report any and all forms of abuse or suspicion of abuse, and that Police officers be trained to appropriately handle abuse and suicide cases.
TCV is also preparing for three national campaigns next year, mainly a lay counsellor training programme, a domestic violence campaign, and a house-to-house campaign in suicide and abuse hotspots.
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Carib Beer must go beyond public apology for ad

The Caribbean Voice (TCV) (www.caribvoice.org) joins with other NGOs and Women’s Rights Organizations in calling upon Carib Beer to go beyond a public apology in expressing their contrition for the awful ad that was both offensive and insensitive to women and gender based violence victims and activists in Guyana and the rest of the Caribbean.
We call upon Carib Beer and all companies regionally to take steps to sensitize all staff about gender based violence. In the context of Guyana TCV has already held sensitization workshops with a few companies while a number of others have also requested such workshops. We also call upon Carib Beer to concretely support the efforts of activists regionally to address gender-based violence via support of training and sensitization efforts.
In this latter regard Carib Beer should consider coming on board the Annual Anti-Violence Candlelight Vigil, which focuses on various forms of violence including domestic violence and related issues such as suicide, sexual abuse, child abuse and elderly abuse and which does not require any significant financial layout. Set for September 9 this year, this vigil is on the verge of becoming a region-wide event with St. Vincent and Trinidad and Tobago coming on board this year and plans on stream to reach out to other Caribbean nations to join in from next year. Details of this vigil are available here – http://caribvoice.org/voices-against-violence.html – and we can be reached at caribvoice@aol.com or via our Domestic Violence Outreach Coordinator, Livasti Bhooplall, at 644-5901.

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Third annual candlelight vigil against violence set

The third Annual National Candlelight Vigil was officially launched at a press conference in Georgetown on August 10. In attendance was this year’s vigil patron, Dr. George Norton, Minister of Social Cohesion, Youth, Sports and Culture. Voices Against Violence (the collection of entities that plan and organize vigils nationwide) recognizes that not only is the vigil an activity that can concretely build social cohesion but that the patronage of Minister Dr. Norton will ensure that this year the vigil reaches into the hinterland and riverrain communities and that promotion will be more widespread and intensive. We also hope that the Minister’s patronage would encourage many more entities to come on board, including various ministries, agencies and departments of the government.

Set for Sunday September 9, this year’s vigil is being held under the theme, ‘Working Together to Prevent Violence”. Launched in 2016, to mark World Suicide Prevention Day (September 10 each year) this event has brought together over 100 entities across Guyana to organize 800 vigils over the past two years as communities strive to make anti-violence everybody’s business. This year we’re aiming for at least 1000 vigils

Non-political in nature, the vigil serves to bridge all sorts of divides on the social landscape by bringing communities together to be involved in anti-violence activism, while fostering the concept of communal action for community well being. When communities come together they can begin to become more caring and build more togetherness

Communities and planning organizations have complete control over their vigils. Thus, violence can be addressed holistically or organizers can choose what aspects of violence they want to focus on. For the purpose of the vigil, violence also includes suicide, all forms of abuse and drugs and alcohol use/abuse. Vigils are inexpensive to organize with participants needing only candles or they can even use the light from their cell phones. Organizers can choose to march around their communities, engage in chanting slogans, assembly at a preselected point and have a keynote speaker address the gathering. As has been done in the past by some entities, organizers can also include cultural performances in their vigils.

Voices Against Violence appeals to all to organize vigils: NGOs, Faith Based Organizations (churches, mosques, mandirs), Community Based Organizations, Special Interest Groups, Sports Clubs, Youth Groups, Professional Groups, Women’s Groups, Political Parties, Trade Unions, Business Groups – all and sundry. All vigil organizers and potential organizers are requested to contact Voices Against Violence so we can map your vigils, and provide any needed support including pre-vigil promotion and post vigil reporting. Please contact Nazim Hussain at 644-1152 or 646-4849, Leslyn Holder at 639-1189, Pandit Deodat at 627-4423, Jinnah Rahaman at 692-5672 or Sixtus Edwards at 677-3597.



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“Now that I am into domestic violence awareness, I have come to realise that abuse is a form of control, and for some reason, many women go along with it because they are convinced that they do not have the strength to leave.”



By Sharmain Grainger


Our ‘Special Person’ today is undoubtedly a woman of substance. Her name is Leslyn Roseanna Holder. She currently holds the position of Education and Training Director within The Caribbean Voice [TCV], an ever-vibrant Non-Governmental Organisation [NGO], which has a main focus to help root out the daunting scourge of suicide and violence in the society.

Anyone who knows Holder can safely say that she is a woman known to undertake just about every task she is given with nothing short of complete distinction. But after hearing her story, it isn’t hard to fathom how a single woman could exude such genuine commitment in just about every area of her life.

Some might very well conclude that she was created to be a true champion of women, especially those who are vulnerable and rarely find a true listening ear that not only empathises, but completely understands what they have been through.

You see, Holder not only endured many abusive relationships herself, but she even grew seeing her mother abused as well.

“Now that I am into domestic violence awareness, I have come to realise that abuse is a form of control, and for some reason many women go along with it because they are convinced that they do not have the strength to leave,” Holder shared during a recent interview.

But she is on a mission to empower, not only women, but just about anyone who feels that they are incapable of walking away from circumstances that do nothing to elevate them as human beings.

AMIDST ABUSE

Although her mother, Grace Vanlewin hailed from an area in the Pomeroon River, Holder, born on February 13, 1969 as the second of six children, was raised in Bartica, Region Seven. She remembers vividly growing up in that part of the country as if it were yesterday.

“I can remember the sense of community there; we always had that sense of community. I remember my mom; she would bake in this big old wooden oven and everybody in the community could come and put their bread in too…and when she couldn’t do it another neighbour would take on that role,” Holder reminisced.

As Seventh-day Adventist believers, attending church was not merely an infrequent activity but rather, a way of life for the Holders’ household. Attending school was also equally important.

For many years, Holder was convinced that her family was pretty normal, since there was a mother, a father and children all living together under a single roof. But it wasn’t until years later that she would learn that the man she called ‘Dad’ was in fact her step-father.

For many years, the identity of her biological father was kept a secret from her. But this certainly wasn’t the worse thing to have happened to Holder, even as she blossomed into a young lady.

You see although she believed her family was very normal at first, there was clear evidence which suggested that it certainly wasn’t. Holder grew up in a home where abuse was chronic; a situation that was almost always triggered by her step-father’s imbibing ways.

“He was an alcoholic…when I look back, I realised that things that looked normal to me, they really were not. My mother was always beaten; she was very, very abused and I remember my step-father would not come home for days when he drank. Many days, we would go hungry because we didn’t have food,” recalled Holder, as she remembered her mother being a very abiding housewife, although she was educated and could have easily made it on her own.

According to Holder, it was often the communal sense among members of the community that kicked-in many days to ensure that she and her siblings did not starve. They also relied heavily on fruit-bearing trees, recalled a smiling Holder, who has a keen appreciation for fruit trees even to this day.

“When there was no food…curried chicken and cook-up and the rest of it, there was always fruits from the trees, so that was a plus for us.”

Although the various forms of abuse were evident, Holder recounted the valiant attempt by her mother to camouflage the situation.

“I remember my mother would play games with us, she would take us swimming, but it was only later, I realised what she was trying to do. She was trying to create a distraction from the ugly side of things so that we had some sort of normalcy…but I knew she suffered; she suffered a lot as an abused woman,” Holder shared.

In fact, Holder grew up hearing things like “abuse in a marriage is normal” and “you have to stay because of the kids” but even then she confided, “I just knew that couldn’t be right.”

“I was always a thinker and I thought that couldn’t be right in any way.”

However, as part of maintaining some semblance of routine, Holder’s mother ensured that her children attended school. Holder attended St. Anthony’s Primary and then Bartica Secondary. But as fate would have it, Holder would become the only one among her siblings who was given the opportunity to complete secondary level school. This was in most part due to the fact that the situation at home continued to deteriorate.

“Of course as we got older, the demands got more and I think my step-father was totally incapable of looking after us financially…even though sometimes he worked two jobs.”

AGAINST ALL ODDS

The years of abuse had long taken a toll on Holder’s mother, so much so that she was often hospitalised. Added to this, there were times that the work that her step-father got would take him far away from the household. This of course meant that Holder and her siblings had to do a lot of growing up on their own.

“My family situation got worse and my older sister had to find work…my brothers after me, they too had to quit school and find work,” Holder recalled.

But she was determined to remain in school although that certainly was not easy. Well not up until she started receiving support from a pastor and his wife who really helped Holder along. “They were a very big influence for me,” related Holder, who envisaged becoming a nurse much like the pastor’s wife.

Although, she was determined to prove that she had the ability to become someone outstanding, life had other plans for the yet blossoming young woman. Her plan was to complete school and then pursue training in nursing.

But Holder was sure that her dreams were unattainable the day she returned home from school and was attacked and raped by a very older man who was visiting the community at the time. Neither her mother nor step-father, or siblings for that matter, were there to rescue her.

The three persons she confided in, insisted that she spoke nothing more of the ordeal that she endured. It was even worse when she found out that she was impregnated by the rapist.

Forced to leave school because of her pregnancy, Holder was convinced there was no hope for her in such a cruel world. She, moreover, saw suicide as her only way out and attempted to do so.

Although, she eventually gave birth to a baby boy who died by the time he was six months old, the hurt and pain that engulfed her ever since the day she was raped; simply would not leave.

“I sort of blamed myself for being raped and I eventually went completely off the rails… I started drinking and partying and getting away from home…I was doing all the things I knew I shouldn’t do,” recalled Holder.

In hopes of trying to find love and purpose for living, Holder struck up a relationship with a young man who turned out to be especially abusive. “I always had a lot of bruises and I was always thinking my life was not worth living.” By the time she 17 years old, Holder had already attempted suicide three times. Her final attempt saw her ingesting a gallon of kerosene oil.

But surviving was in fact the turning point in her life.

Since there obviously was a need for more pages to be added to the life story of our ‘Special Person’, she was overcome by a renewed sense of purpose, which drove her to move past her daunting circumstances. She was determined to get her act together and become a nurse, even if it were the last thing she did.

Holder has since written a book ‘Where the rivers run deep’ -sharing her story in the hope that young people who have suffered in much the way she has, will be inspired to remain strong and find their true calling in life.

It wasn’t until she turned 19 that things started to change for her. “I decided to turn my life around,” she recalled. But the life she envisaged for herself did not materialise overnight. Although she became financially independent when she landed a job as a National Insurance Scheme clerk, the urge to imbibe and be unruly still lingered. But her determination was enough to push her to secure the qualifications she needed to be trained as a nurse.

“Nursing really, really redeemed me,” said Holder of her nursing career. But life still was not what she’d hoped, even after attaining her career goal.

Holder revealed that even though she had gotten married and had a decent existence, she was yet subjected to abuse at the hands of her husband. Even after a divorce and involvement in yet another relationship, life was no better.

“I kept getting involved over and over with men who were abusive, and the next one was always worse than the one before that,” she intimated.

By this time, Holder was the mother of two – Lisa and Kevin – and was overwhelmed with the belief that she had the ability to steer her life in a fulfilling direction. This was particularly important to her because she surely did not want her children to grow up amidst abuse as she did years earlier.

She opted to become a single parent and was able to create a happy atmosphere to raise her children. Although life was fulfilling, it took a great deal of sacrifice and commitment. According to Holder, “I looked after my kids on my own and to do this I held down three jobs at one time… I worked a full-time job at the Georgetown Public Hospital and I was doing shifts at Woodlands Hospital and at Medical Arts Centre.”

LIVING HER BEST LIFE

Not only was Holder able to make a good life for herself and children here in Guyana, but she was even able to experience life overseas when she migrated to the United Kingdom where she was able to advance her nursing skills. The move to advance her knowledge in nursing, Holder said, “was to ensure that I can give my patients the best care. I always believe patients are hospitalised not by choice but because of illness, and that could be any one of us, and so they deserve the best care possible.”

Although she was able to excel, taking on a number of managerial positions – even introducing programmes to enhance the delivery of care overseas – Holder remained close to the land of her birth. In fact, she disclosed that she was constantly thinking of ways that she could come back home to share her expertise with the health care system.

Things all fell into place in 2015 when she was invited to do so. Not only was she able to contribute to the Public Health Ministry’s Mental Health Unit, during its fledging phase, but also lend support to the crafting of a National Suicide and Mental Health Prevention Action plans.

Holder has also been able to share her expertise with the private health sector by taking up a position with the St Joseph Mercy Hospital when it opened its Mercy Resident Care Home in Pere Street, Kitty, Georgetown. Added to this, she has been offering home care service.

But our ‘Special Person’ has not been limited to offering her nursing skills across the country, since in addition to being a part of TCV, she has been instrumental in the establishment of a NGO – the By Faith Foundation, which has the empowerment of the people in Region One as its main focus. The organisation has already started to gain the support of governmental agencies.

Holder has since remarried to Stephen Thisby, who she considers the love of her life, and is now living her best life by doing things that help, especially women, realise that they can live fulfilling lives even after years of abuse or after the throes of mental ailment.

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Caribbean Voice launches suicide prevention vigil

The Caribbean Voice (TVC) has partnered with the Social Cohesion Ministry to organise its third annual national anti-violence candlelight vigil to mark World Suicide Prevention Day, which is aimed at spreading awareness on suicide prevention.
There will be a month-long awareness on suicide prevention and other scheduled activities, which will culminate with the vigil on Sunday, September 9.
At the launching ceremony on Friday, National Coordinator of the Caribbean Voice, Nizam Hussain, highlighted some of the organisations partnering with The Caribbean Voice in this initiative. Those include the Women’s Progressive Organisation (WPO), the Guyana Hindu Dharmic Sabha, Charity Church of Christ, Emerging Young Leaders, the Enterprise Youth Development Group, and Golden Om Dharmic Youth.
Hussain explained that this vigil will aid in reducing the scourge of suicide and the number of cases which are often coupled with domestic violence.
Social Cohesion Minister George Norton has noted that efforts should continue to assist with ending both of these social issues in Guyana.
“I believe that observing this vigil is a great start,” he said. “We want you to not only observe the vigil, but to join forces with Caribbean Voice and other bodies that are working towards ending violence and suicide altogether,” Minister Norton said.
Norton also spoke on the report that was produced by the World Health Organisation (WHO) a few years ago, which placed Guyana in the spotlight for its high suicide rate. He said the rate of suicide has decreased significantly.
“This could have been, and it was immensely troubling, and we needed to take immediate remedy. In 2015, Guyana was one of the few countries that moved aggressively to develop a suicide prevention plan, and I’m happy to say that Guyana’s suicide rate has dropped,” Dr Norton declared.
Last year, the organisers had just under 800 participating groups at the vigil. They are looking forward to more this time around.
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Guyanese support sex offenders registry, believe unemployment can drive suicide

Guyanese overwhelmingly support the establishment of a registry of sex offenders. This was one of several findings in a poll commissioned by The Caribbean Voice and conducted in June and July. And although most Guyanese seemed unaware that attempted suicide is a criminal offence, they significantly agree that it should be decriminalized.
Other findings include significant support for mandated counseling for all persons with mental health issues who appear in courts to answer charges; all health care workers and educators be mandated to report any and all forms of abuse or suspicion of abuse and all police be trained to appropriately handle abuse and suicide cases.
Below are the stats relating to the poll:
Should government establish a registry of sex offenders?
Yes No Not Sure/No Response
90 2 8
Should attempted suicide be decriminalized?
Yes No Not Sure/No Response
74 8 18
Should all persons with mental health issues in front of the courts be mandated psychological evaluation?
Yes No Not Sure/No Response
88 4 8
Should all health care workers and educators be mandated to report any and all forms of abuse or suspicion of abuse?
Yes No Not Sure/No Response
82 6 12
Should all police be trained to handle abuse and suicide cases?
Yes No Not Sure/No Response
86 4 10
Lack of awareness that attempted suicide is a crime seems to be because the law is not enforced but survey respondents were very vehement in calling for it to be taken off the books. They also felt that the system is failing those who become suicidal and that significant efforts to prevent suicide have not been made by government. As well they believe that suicide is greater among the poorer segments of the population driven especially by alcoholism and unemployment. Thus they are calling for counseling to be provided free of charge, across the nation, as the charges would become an additional burden on victims. Many also feel that suicides and suicide victims should not be publicized since this could also compound the problem.
Unemployment indeed seems to lead to depression and suicidal mindsets, based on TCV’s interactions with many, especially young people, who have contacted us seeking help to obtain jobs. They often detail their struggles with depression and suicide ideation. While we do refer some to individuals we feel might be able to help, in almost all cases, the help never materialized, in spite of the promises made. TCV is of the view that suicide wise this a disaster waiting to happen. So we are wondering whether there is a mechanism in place that we can refer these persons to access. Perhaps the media can publicize any info relating to a referral system for these young people. Requests have come in from many different regions.
Coordinated by pollster, Dr. Vishnu Bisram, the poll had a sample of 1010 respondents (410 Indians, 304 Africans, 182 Mixed, 102 Amerindians, 12 others), which yielded a demographically representative sample of the adult population. Voters were polled randomly to make it as representative as possible with respect to varied age, class, occupational, residential and religious statuses as well as of ethnicity, educational levels and geographical diversity.
The results of the poll were analyzed at a 95 percent significance level and a statistical sampling error of plus or minus four percentage points was found. This means that in theory, in 19 cases out of 20, the results based on such a sample will differ by no more than 4 percentage points in either direction from what should have been obtained by seeking to interview the whole voting population. Sampling results based on subgroups (such as Indians or Africans have a larger potential sampling error).

Table 1: Racial Composition of Polling Sample 1010
Race Number Percent
Indian 410 41
African 304 30
Mixed 182 18
Amerind 102 10
Other* 12 1
* Includes Portuguese, Chinese and all other ethnic categories.

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Lay counselor training to grow community gatekeepers

Come next July, a thriving gatekeepers’ programme is expected to be in full swing. The initiative is one that will be implemented by The Caribbean Voice [TCV], which has been soliciting support to have the programme rolled out on a national scale.
Heeding the call for support recently was KFC [Guyana] which has handed over a sizeable sum towards the cause as part of its corporate social responsibility.

According to TCV National Coordinating Director, Mr. Nazim S. Hussain, in order to ensure that the programme is a true success, a sum of $6.4 million will have to be raised to garner the support of a highly experienced and credentialed trainer.

The trainer in question, Hussain said, will provide the needed service free of cost for one year through the non-governmental organization – SEVA International – which is based in India.

The programme will cater to the training of Lay Counsellors, who are essentially persons trained in basic mental health so that they can perform as gatekeepers within a community to proactively act on mental health issues. Among the key issues to be targeted are suicide and abuse, and it is expected that these individuals will be able to pre-empt suicide or abuse or help to bring about redress.

Moreover, the gatekeepers’ programme, Hussain explained, entails training individuals within a community to be able to use their vantage positions to detect and help address, as far as possible, those faced with the stated mental health-related challenges.

This therefore means that gatekeepers are persons who act much like first responders who target the vulnerable in communities.

Marketing Manager of KFC [Guyana], Ms. Livasti Bhooplall, in handing over the needed financial support to TCV’s Hussain, related that KFC is very proud to be contributing to the Lay Counselor Initiative, even as she encouraged corporate Guyana to donate to the cause too.

Her sentiments were echoed by Hussain, who said that it is also his hope that others within the business community will emulate the move by KFC.

“This is the first time that a company has come on board to support us like this, and we are hoping that others would do the same,” Hussain said.

Meanwhile, Bhooplall, in recognizing the importance of the venture, said that KFC was pleased to get on board, since the initiative is one that will see all 10 administration regions being able to benefit. She added that Guyana is in critical need of these types of training programmes, since the daily news is filled with domestic violence.

Among those who are likely to be identified to join the gatekeepers’ movement, Hussain said, are estate workers, teachers, policemen, business persons and even taxi drivers.

But choosing the most suitable candidates will not be a haphazard process since, according to him, an imperative approach is to reach out to human resource managers, representatives of other NGOs within the estate communities, religious organisations, among other leaders, to help identify those best suited for the programme.

“We are looking to have persons with the capacity to reach others…those who are deemed ‘people persons’ and are able to help them get the support they need,” said Hussain.
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KFC donates to The Caribbean Voice

The local Kentucky Fried Chicken (KFC) franchise made a monetary donation to The Caribbean Voice (TCV) on Monday which would go towards the launching of a nationwide Lay Counsellor Programme in July 2019.
The lay counsellor is trained in basic mental health so that he or she can act as gatekeeper within a community to proactively and preemptively deal with mental health issues such as suicide and abuse.
TCV needs to raise $6.4 million to facilitate a highly-experienced and credentialed trainer, whose service is offered free of cost for one year via the Non Governmental Organisation (NGO) Seva International based in India.
On behalf of the fast food franchise, Marketing Manager Livasti Bhooplall explained that KFC was very proud to be contributing to the lay counsellor initiative and she encouraged corporate Guyana to donate to the cause.
Bhooplall mentioned that many social issues that were prevalent in Guyana, such as suicide and abuse stemmed from mental health issues. The training programme will be facilitated in all 10 Administrative Regions in Guyana. The KFC Marketing Manager noted that Guyana was in critical need of these types of training programmes, since the daily news was filled with domestic violence, and she wished the team every success with this initiative.
TCV National Coordinating Coordinator Nazim Hussain noted that the donation would play a significant part in executing the Lay Counsellor Programme.
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