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Peace Corps Volunteers Honored for Work with Local Group

United States Ambassador to Guyana, Mr. David Robinson, has lauded the work of the rural-based Nirvana Humanitarian Society (NHS) located at Kastev, Met-en-Meerzorg, West Coast Demerara.He stressed that the thrust of the organisation in helping to educate the less fortunate in the field of Information Technology (IT) is most welcome because it helps the "people to people connection without them having to be in the same room."At a ceremony yesterday to honour the work of the U.S. Peace Corps in helping to bring to fruition some of the objectives of the society, the Ambassador, in reference to Peace Corps volunteer, Justin Hilton who was instrumental in establishing and implementing the organisation's IT programme, noted that his presence has helped in "making this (people to people) connection stronger, explicit and real."Coordinator of U.S. Peace Corps here, Mr. James Geenan described the work of NHS as "outstanding", observing that much progress was achieved in a relatively short time and commended the organisation for having IT as its mainstay.However, he noted, the demand for Peace Corps volunteers has far outstripped the numbers available as another 34 volunteers are expected, but there have been requests from more than 80 communities.He suggested a possible solution is exploring the possibility of communities sharing volunteers.On this score, Munesh Persaud of the Canadian Building Community Capacity Project (BCCP), one of the agencies providing support to NHS, suggested that such groups seek volunteers from within the communities in which they are based.A notable observation on the success of NHS Geenan made was the partnership among the U.S., Canadians and Guyanese, both local and overseas-based. Partnerships are the way forward in developing communities, he said.President/founder of the parent organisation of NHS, U.S.-based Nirvana Humanitarian Foundation (NHF), Ramdular Singh, said NHS had come a long way despite the many challenges it had to encounter.He said it began supporting ten schools on the West Demerara by supplying several items such as reference textbooks which were unaffordable by parents, uniforms, boots and meals for the less fortunate students of several schools.Also, through support from the Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA), some 5,000 textbooks were distributed to students, Singh said.Also, food items are given to 60 families between Zeelugt and Tuschen on the East Bank Essequibo.He recalled that as the work of the NHS intensified, the need for a building to provide low-cost education was recognised, and through support from the Regional Democratic Council (RDC) of Region Three (Essequibo Islands/West Demerara), a plot of land was acquired for this purpose and the building was erected some three years ago and houses the IT centre and a library.Singh observed that with the donation of six computers and 40 chairs through the courtesy of the High Commissioner of Canada, the IT centre became established and Peace Corps volunteer Hilton developed an IT study programme which so far has seen some 250 students graduate.According to Singh, the NHS scheme boasts an IT programme comparable to that of more well-known schools but at one-fifth the cost offered by those institutions.Lauding the work of Hilton, who he said was instrumental in the success of the IT study programme of NHS, Singh said he hopes his zeal, professionalism, and enthusiasm will be an inspiration and guide for others to emulate."He has been a true friend and goodwill ambassador of the U.S.," Singh declared in his tribute to the work of Hilton.Another Peace Corps volunteer who was honoured was Ms. Carla Calinawan for her outstanding work in helping students learn to read, particularly dropouts from schools.Both Hilton and Calinawan said their experience has been great despite the challenges, with the latter noting that she did not expect to have learnt so much from her sojourn in Guyana.Executive member of NHF, Ramesh Deochand, tracing the origins of the NHF, said a group of Guyanese-based U.S. citizens on returning home realised that they could make a contribution towards the upliftment of communities and the less fortunate and out of this idea NHF was born in 1997.One of the influencing factors, he said, was the fact that there were several depressed squatting housing communities in Met-en-Meerzorg and this motivated the founders to take the initiative to do something to help.He said the NHF is among donors listed by the United Nations Children Education Fund (UNICEF).Hindu spiritual leader, Swami Aksharanda, who will be shortly assuming the chairmanship of NHS, observed that such organisations play a pivotal role in helping people as in many instances government to government assistance arrangements escape the people that assistance is intended for. (via
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