In one of her first acts, Arya Ali, the First Lady of Guyana, invited citizen Carl Melville, to State House. Melville was accompanied by Don Singh, who helped Carl find a job and housing since Carl had lost his job and was left homeless. Carl who found himself living and sleeping on the seawall in Georgetown, voluntarily embarked on a humanitarian mission to clean the entire stretch of the seawall from the bandstand to the Marriott Hotel, every day, without expecting a reward.
The First Lady was moved by Carl’s story and wanted to commend him personally. The Office of the First Lady reported that “over the next five years, the First Lady plans to champion, among other initiatives, a Scenic Conser-vation Project which will help to safeguard the scenic qualities of Guyana’s roadways, urban spaces, and countryside, while simultaneously creating a more environmentally-friendly society. The First Lady believes that scenic revitalisation can serve to encourage, and fast-track, community renewal and reinvestment as part of a larger economic development plan.”
This initiative by the First Lady is quite commendable. Guyana is a very beautiful country, but we need the volunteer spirit of Carl Melville to catalyse Guyanese everywhere to care for the environment. Guyana has a disease called “let-the-government-do-it-titis.” For instance, instead of cleaning the drains and areas in front of their yards, people wait for the Government to do it. In the USA, there is a strong national spirit of volunteerism. Schools encourage “service learning,” and students with a good record of community service usually get selected for scholarships.
I suggest that the Ministry of Education can promote community service activities in schools such as painting of crosswalks, clean-up activities, cleaning and painting parking benches, etc. In North Carolina, the State gives five days of community service leave to each state employee. Our Church participates in the “Adopt a Highway” programme where we adopt a section of a road and on designated days we pick up trash along the highway and put them in bags provided by the Department of Transportation (DOT). The tied bags are then picked up by DOT vehicles.
I am usually very saddened to see people discard trash, plastics, cans, and bottles along the beaches, highways, and empty lots. On the West Coast of Demerara, there was a cane juice stall right next to a roadside dump. At No. 63 beach, trash and debris is everywhere and people set up tents oblivious of the trash that surrounds them. Guyanese have such a peaceful coexistence with trash and flies, you would think flies are house pets. I hate when I have to shoo off flies from my food or when flies alight on my food, even in restaurants. At Babu John, the shrine of two of our democratic era Presidents, people use the surrounding areas for dumping trash and neither the nor any other authority has done anything about it. Government builds schools and nice buildings but make no provision for landscaping and beautification.
When I lived in the oil kingdom of Dubai/Abu Dhabi in the United Arab Emirates, in the mornings, there were thousands of workers whose jobs were to go out and clean up along the highways. Workers are sent to sweep up any sand in front of our villas every morning.
So, the First Lady is to be commended for her vision of a beautiful Guyana. Thank you First Lady, and thank you Carl for being a change agent and a role model! Keep up the good work! (Carl is given time off by his employer to continue his clean-up exercise daily).
Dr. Jerry Jailall