What is M.A.D.? The Beginning of the Journey A Visit to Parliament Heading out into the Community Beginning the Project

Sunday, 29 June 2014

“Putting Plans in Action”

Planing and Execution of our Project

 And, so after surveys and weeks of weeks of good sessions the M.A.D. Youths of this group settled on their project. With our focus both on making a difference no matter how unusual (M.A.D.) it seemed and with our great focus on youth we decided to help the Rasville community by piloting a programme for approximately 20 young children of the community – Youth’s Making a Difference Mentoring and After School Programme. The focus was on augmenting the public school curriculum by offering the students sessions in weak subject areas, twice a week, for an eight week period beginning in Mid-July. But more than just assistance in subjects, the programme hoped to get to the root of one of the constant complaints in the community – a lack of appreciation and regard for education. Working with children, most of them ages 6 to 11, the members of this group intent on Making A Difference felt they were best age group to begin a new way of thinking in the community. Instilling them, not only, with an appreciation for school but mentoring sessions encouraging them to be confident children, unafraid to speak with their opinions and with the assurance to do good in their endeavours.

We first presented our Plan of Action on Friday June 21 for Mr Urling and the other participants in the Y.E.S. Programme where we were given feedback on how to make our initiative more effective. Then a modest opening on Saturday June 28 followed where the students participating in the programme met at the New Guyana School building for registration. There was an unfortunately low turn-out from parents who did not have sufficient time to attend and since the only way our group can Make A Difference in these impressionable minds is by getting parents on board, our group decided a re-visit to the community was essential. We would ask the parents of registered children what they would specifically want out of a programme such as this and ensure their suggestions are heard because to Make A Difference in the lives of these young children cooperation from all facets must occur.

And leadership demands that we adapt to challenges and then conquer them. That is how we can Make A Difference.

Sunday, 22 June 2014

“On Dreams of Change”

A Poem on Dreams and Change

Oftentimes artists become a vital part of the movement for change and essential to strides towards Making a Difference. Guyanese poetry legend Martin Carter was one such pioneer who in addition to writing beautiful words, also wrote evocative and inspirational words which inspired his readers. His notable poem “Looking At Your Hands” provides some rousing words for consideration.

I will not still my voice!
I have
too much to claim—
if you see me
looking at books
or coming to your house
or walking in the sun
know that I look for fire!

I have learnt
from books dear friend
of men dreaming and living
and hungering in a room without a light
who could not die since death was far too poor
who did not sleep to dream, but dreamed to change
the world.

And so
if you see me
looking at your hands
listening when you speak
marching in your ranks
you must know
I do not sleep to dream, but dream to change
the world.

Saturday, 21 June 2014

“In the Sacred House”

A Visit to Parliament Buildings

On June 17 the participants of the Youth Leaders’ Leadership Development Programme visited Parliament Buildings where the country’s National Assembly is housed for a sit-down with the Speaker Raphael Trotman.

The Speaker began his meeting with the young leaders by reminiscing on the history of the building. The foundation for Parliament Buildings was laid in 1829 and completed five years later in 1834, designed by Joseph Hadfield. Some years later, in 1875, Cesar Castellani – a noted artist – designed the ornate ceiling with a sunken panel design. The ceiling is one of the noted intricate designs which the buildings are noted for. The group noticed the paintings of Guyana’s deceased presidents hung around the room. More history came with the note of the Speaker’s Chair (an Independence Gift from the Government of India) and the Sergeant-at-Arms chair (an Independence Gift from Great Britain).

Less ceremonial was the history the building played in a perceived slave rebellion after the abolishment of slavery, a reminder of the tragic history which Guyana is built upon.

The meeting was not just one which dealt with the retrospective, though, Speaker Trotman relayed his thoughts on the importance of the National Assembly and questioned the effectiveness of the traditional mode where the government and the opposition are set-up as adversaries precipitating an even more adversarial relationship during debate. He suggested that a dramatic shake-up of the parliament’s seating could help in abating such combative tendencies. The question was, however, raised that with so many other countries functioning successfully with minority governments in this same makeup why was Guyana still unable to use its current parliament mode to benefit the country.

Other issues which were brought up for discussion was the role the average Guyanese plays in the machinations of the National Assembly. As the public is responsible for the formation of the parliament, the divide between constituents’ needs and the infighting in the National Assembly came into question. Speaker Trotman intimated that there have been outreaches where the parliamentarians have gone into schools so the relationship between the citizens and the members of the house is not fractured but one of open and accessible easiness.

Ultimately Trotman agreed that improving Guyana is a work-in-progress dependant on every stakeholder working together for the betterment of the country. He praised the Blue Caps initiative and was impressed with a body formed to fill the leadership gap in the country. We are sure that the speaker would agree with the members of this group that ultimately Making A Difference – and sacrificing personal hang-ups to do so – are essential to making Guyana a better place.

Friday, 20 June 2014

“On empathising and appreciating others”

A Quotation on understanding weakness in others

Leadership can come from various places, and sometimes they may not even come from people we usually consider as “leaders”. Maya Angelou was not elected to office, but she was an inspiring writer and activist who stood as living proof that where a person came from could not prevent them from reaching greatness. Her work was important for the empathy and sympathy it showed for flaws in the human spirit and her ideology of kindness is so often something which we, as leaders, can all take into consideration.

Each of us has lived through some devastation, some loneliness, some weather superstorm or spiritual superstorm. When we look at each other we must say, I understand. I understand how you feel because I have been there myself. We must support each other because each of us is more alike than we are unalike.

 As leaders we must heed Maya Angelou’s words. Sometimes the best way to mobilise persons is by recognising their strengths but also acknowledging their limitations and understanding them rather than castigating them.When we team together and help each other to grow, then we can Make A Difference.

Thursday, 19 June 2014

“Real Big News”

Blue Caps in the Media 

The group of participants in the Youth Leaders' Development Programme visited Parliament Buildings and various media coverage ensued.

Capitol News

Stabroek News
Saying that power needs to be returned to the people, House Speaker Raphael Trotman yesterday sounded a call for “real decision making” to begin at the community-level.

“We have to change our decision-making policies…there should be an inclusive form of governance in Guyana and decision-making processes so that all the different factors and sectors of our society should be factored into the decision-making,” he said during a meeting with members of the new Blue CAPS non-governmental organisation at the Public Buildings yesterday.

“I believe that the real decision-making should be made at the bottom. So, we need to devolve more power to the people at the local government level. A community in Ann’s Grove or a community in Tain, Corentyne shouldn’t have to wait for a minister to say that a bridge should be built… that should be left to the people; they know best for themselves,” he added.

Trotman further stated that Parliament should instead focus on the national issues and leave the basic issues to the Guyanese citizens, especially willing youths such as those that had been in attendance.
“I’d like to see the power given back to the people. There is too much power centred around Parliament,” he noted. “The real power should go the peoples of Guyana and the more national aspects should be left to Parliament.”

....more media coverage below the jump....

“Dare to rise to greatness”

 A Quotation on Daring to be Great

Robert F. Kennedy, the 35th President of the United States, is considered to be one of the great men of the 20th century to have shown positive and laudable leadership examples to his fellow humans. In his quote below he delivers some provocative words on each human's worth to be excellent. The members of M.A.D. are willing to take up his mantle to rise to greatness, even in the smallest of ways.

Few will have the greatness to bend history itself, but each of us can work to change a small portion of events. It is from numberless diverse acts of courage and belief that human history is shaped. Each time a man stands up for an ideal, or acts to improve the lot of others, or strikes out against injustice, he sends forth a tiny ripple of hope, and crossing each other from a million different centers of energy and daring those ripples build a current which can sweep down the mightiest walls of oppression and resistance.

Monday, 16 June 2014

“Checking it Out”

The Team Heads out to the Community

The Youths Experiencing Service (Y.E.S.) initiative was designed in order that at the end of  classroom training, participants partake in the YES! (Youths Experiencing Service) component and undertake a community development project after consultations with the residents of a selected community. Youths Making a Difference undertook phase one of the YES component in the Rasville community. We visited over 40 households to determine the overall community satisfaction of the residents, thereby focusing on the problems they faced and possible solutions to those problems. The results were overwhelming as the residents wasted no time in making their issues and concerns vocal. 
Meeting the people.
Men, women, children gave opinions of what they believed were the main issues and problems stymieing development in their community which ranged from improper drainage mechanisms, delinquency, lack of sport and other recreational facilities and decaying road constructions among others. Notwithstanding the appearance of a community rife with inadequacies and multiple problems, it was quite astounding that most the residents when asked what they did like about their community gave responses alluding to its safety, peace and harmony.

The residents also made sure that their suggestions and solutions to the problems were heard by our team of youths. These included a proper functional community body to bring representation on their behalf, facilitation of sport and other after school training and teaching sessions for the ;children of the community andentrepreneurial and skills development training for the youth of the community. Clearly the residents in Rasville all appreciate each other and if given assistance can transform the perception of the community. The team was especially overjoyed at the level of commitment the residents pledged to making a differencing in their community and some were even excited and looking forward to our return.

The residents of Rasville are a great set of people.
Meeting with a resident of Rasville who has resided there for over half a century.
We are ready to help them get M.A.D.