Refurbished Amerindian Hostel rededicated By Shirley Thomas
Guyana Chronicle
September 8, 2002

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AT THE rededication of the refurbished Amerindian Hostel. Seated from left in front row, SIMAP official Dr. Persaud; Minister of Amerindian Affairs, Ms. Carolyn Rodrigues; Acting President Samuel Hinds; Chairman of the Hinterland Welfare Support Group, Mr. Fred Fredericks. In second row, from left are: Hostel Administrator, Mr. Hilary Rodrigues and Project Contractor Mr. Colin Murray.

A talented trio doing a musical rendition at the rededication ceremony. Teens Angela Abraham and Agatha Bernard accompanied by Guitarist Mr. Abrams from the Amerindian village of Nappi.

The newly refurbished Amerindian Hostel on Princess Street.

THE recently refurbished Amerindian Hostel in Georgetown was yesterday rededicated with pomp and ceremony, as part of Amerindian Heritage Month observances.

The building, refurbished at a cost of $7.9M, was officially rededicated by Acting President Samuel Hinds.

The opening prayer was offered by Reverend Deryck Chadwick, Roman Catholic Jesuit Priest.

Among the other keenly enthusiastic well wishers and stakeholders joining the Amerindian beneficiaries in celebration were Minister of Amerindian Affairs, Ms. Carolyn Rodrigues; Social Impact Amelioration Programme (SIMAP) Executive Director, Mr. Harry Nawbatt; Project Contractor, Mr. Colin Murray, Administrator of the Hostel, Mr. Hilary Rodrigues, and Chairman of the Hinterland Welfare Support Group, Mr. Fred Fredericks.

A SIMAP official explained that of the total cost of the project, that executing agency contributed $6.7 M and the sponsors - the Hinterland Welfare Support Committee along with the Ministry of Amerindian Affairs - contributed $1.2 M.

Noting that the money spent by SIMAP towards the project was a loan from the Inter-American Development Bank which would have to be repaid, SIMAP official, Dr. Persaud urged that the building be used with care, and constructive use be made of the facilities it has to offer.

And Minister Rodrigues, echoing the sentiments of the SIMAP official, called on staff and direct users of the hostel to take pride in what they now have, and in using the facility, since the ministry would not be able to effect another major rehabilitation, having spent so much on this one.

According to Administrator Rodrigues, in keeping with the Hostel's Mission Statement of making it "A Home away from Home" where all are treated equally, he said the place now boasts great improvements over times gone by.

It now has accommodation for some 60 residents at any one time, who may be seeking services in Georgetown.

The hostel now boasts a 536 square feet dining hall; recreational facilities, a study; staff and administrative offices, accommodation for Amerindian Captains; storage facilities; laundry; a spacious driveway, among other things.

The service and facilities at the disposal of the residents and staff at the Hostel are really classy, and second to none.

They serve to boost the self image and perception of the persons making use of these, as outlined by Minister Rodrigues, who said:

"We wanted a landscape change to create a more homey atmosphere. This is why we have a new benab since we do not want persons sitting on the bridge; swings have been installed for the children; a playpen is also there; flowers have been planted; a sturdy fence has been erected among other things."

Noting that the facility is not just about the physical infrastructure, the minister said that a new Social Worker and a nurse have recently been employed, with a second nurse soon to be employed.

These services now complement previously existing services such as: patients being provided with free meals and accommodation; free transportation back home depending of their financial status; assistance with burials for hinterland patients who do not recover from illness and whose families cannot afford the cost of taking their bodies back home.

Rodrigues said that a small fee is charged for accommodation provided persons other than patients.

And in order to preserve the facility, the minister said there will be rules to be complied with.

"You can't have such a beautiful looking facility without appropriate rules and regulations to ensure its preservation," she said. These are now being drafted, but certainly include zero tolerance for the consumption of alcohol.

Meanwhile, Mr. Hinds, congratulating those concerned, noted that it is a good thing to mark this achievement.

The project being rededicated on this occasion, he said, was an example of "one good thing happening in our country at this time."

Comparing present times at the Hostel with times gone by as described by earlier speakers, Mr. Hinds urged: "We should always have a sense of history...we should see a challenge to develop our Guyana."

While acknowledging the need to concentrate on material aspects of development such as infrastructure - roads, trails, communication links to bring people together - the Prime Minister said: "But also, we have a challenge to bring together all our people so that we develop that trust in each other, and we work together as a family."

On this note, he said he was pleased that the Government "has made this contribution to our Amerindian people."

Noting that education is an important area of development for all the people of Guyana, he said he was pleased to see the Amerindian people were responding favourably to the challenge to pursue education.

The Prime Minister acknowledged the role the Hostel has been playing in providing accommodation for Amerindian students, and reiterated the call for care for the building.

Meanwhile, taking note of comments made in relation to the attitude of some staff to persons seeking to use the services of the facility, previously, Mr. Hinds observed that while material things are important, the relationship between the staff and the beneficiaries of the facility is of great importance.

"Even more important, is the relationship we establish with each other; the way we meet and greet each other." He said if "we are willing to work with each other, then we will make our Guyana a much better place to live in."

The success of the project rededicated yesterday was credited to the tremendous work of the Hinterland Welfare Support Group (HWSG) which applied to SIMAP for the funding, and was directly involved in its implementation. The group contributed financially, materially, helped in overseeing and inspecting projects works among other things.

Both Prime Minister Hinds and Minister Rodrigues were loud in praise for the efforts of the group without whose dedication and unswerving support the project might not have been the success it has turned out to be.

The contract was signed on December 18, 2001, physical works commenced towards the end of February, and the hostel officially rededicated yesterday.