More views by Toshaos
Guyana Chronicle
February 22, 2004

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With the conclusion of the Toshaos conference at Tower Hotel, Main Street, Georgetown, here’s another feature on what Toshaos had to say about the meeting and development in their villages:

Bradford Allicock, Toshao, Fairview, Region Eight- I was happy to be a part of the meeting because we had a lot of questions and issues to deal with. I found it very interesting and I have gained a lot from the conference, of course. We all decided that the Toshaos Council would be a statutory body. When I get home, I will share with my fellow villagers what I learned about the statutory body. I am satisfied that the council is a statutory body because we could access more things that way. In my village, there are a lot of activities taking place now. A few months ago we received an extension on our Health Clinic. We also got two kitchens on our school and teachers' apartment. We also have some priority projects that will be done this year. A nursery school and village office should be completed. We are a small village but we are still striving for development. We have received much support from SIMAP and we have some incomplete projects but hope to have them completed soon.

Paul Pierre, Toshao, Kwebanna, Region One- I felt good about the Toshaos meeting. We received a lot of training where the Justice of the Peace and the Rural Constable are concerned. I was sworn in as a JP and it is very good to know that the Government is taking these steps to enlighten Amerindians in general about their functions as Justices of the Peace and as Rural Constables. It is also good to know that our interests are being placed at a very high level. In my village, we have had some development. As I am in Georgetown, I will purchase an outboard engine to take back to the village and hopefully with the Minister's help, I may be able to get it. We have other development plans for our village. In agriculture, we have the cabbage-planting project. This is an economic help to the village so things are looking up at the moment.

Ivan Augustus, Toshao, Warapoka, Region One- I am pleased with all the teachings I received at the meeting. In my community, since I became leader, I have been trying my best to build my community. I try to see how I can assist my people in developing the road, more farming and more projects. We will be building a stelling at the landing and a wharf at the riverside so that farmers can sell their produce when boats are passing. Because our community is so poor, we cannot get everything at the same time. We have to do things one at a time. In the area of health, we have a health worker but no medex and microscope. We also do not have transportation. We usually have to travel to the Kwebanna or the Moruca Hospital to get treatment for patients. So we need these things in our community.

Edward Smith, Toshao, Kabakaburi, Region Two- For the four days of the meeting, I learned a lot. I was Captain for a very long time but within that time, I never got the opportunity that I got at the meeting. Now I am a Justice of the Peace, I know how to go about doing other duties. Also, I have been a Rural Constable for many years. Now I know how I can assist people better in the area. For the past four years, there has been some development in my community. We got a school funded by the IDB to accommodate 418 pupils. We also have a nursery school which was funded by SIMAP to the value of $7M and 10% of the money came from the community. We also got a village office from SIMAP. This cost 4 to 5 million and 10% of that also came from the village. We have plans in store to electrify our health centre with solar energy. We will receive assistance for this from SIMAP as well. Later, we are also looking to get a telecommunication system for our community and of course where modern technology is concerned, you must have lights.

Roy Miller, Interim Toshao, Manawarin, Region One- I have been the Interim Captain for three months now. I was invited by the Minister of Amerindian Affairs to attend the meeting and I found it quite interesting because I learnt many things about the rights of the Indigenous People and about Justices of the Peace.

Since I came into office, we have been trying to work on some projects of our own. We would like to do some things for Agriculture, Education and Health in the village but we need some assistance and we do not know how to go about getting it.

Augustine Lewis, Toshoa, Powaikuru, Region One- I got an invitation for the meeting and I Thank God for this because our village needs a school. We have 25 homes and over fifty children. Since we have no school, the children are getting older and they are not educated. Therefore, I need to go to the Amerindian Affairs Ministry where I will get help to build the school. The area also needs a machine to cut timber so we can build better homes. We have no machine to cut lumber and lumber is plentiful in the area. Secondly, even though there is a creek in the village, during the dry season, it dries up. Therefore, we need assistance to dig the creek up to the hill so we can travel during the dry period or anytime. We usually plant ground provisions, so I came to tell the Minister. We also do not have teachers and all of us in the village are hinterland people, therefore, we cannot even sign papers or anything. We were able to highlight some of these problems as well at the meeting.

Theophilus Domingo, Senior Councillor, Kamwatta, Region One- I was actually identified to attend the meeting even though I am not a Toshao. Our village is covered under Santa Rosa. It is 6 miles away from Central Moruca and it is actually run by the Senior Council only. Kamwatta has a population of over 500 people. I really benefited from the meeting. I was not sworn in as a Justice of the Peace but I got the theoretical training and it was good. I now know how to carry out my duties in terms of dealing with persons committing offences and also the laws and so forth. We have a school and health post in the village and we got a generator from a private timber dealer. That is one step further in development as our school, health- centre and neighbouring homes will receive electricity. The Minister has also been very helpful and assists us in whatever way she can, for instance with transportation and so on.

Salome Henry, Toshao, Malali, Region Ten-I have been Toshao for two terms now and we have had much improvement in our community. We have teachers’ quarters and a community boat. We now have qualified teachers and recently we received assistance from the Ministry of Amerindian Affairs. We are in the process of constructing a village office which we hope to have completed by month-end. With regard to the service book, pensioners also benefit more because we do not take a fee from them. If a person is ill and they get a referral from the village health worker or myself (I am also the Medex in the village), they can get a free ride with the boat. Teachers are also given a free boat-ride once a month. We had a mash costume competition in Linden and I learned that Malali got first for primary schools, so we are doing very well. The Toshaos of communities with land titles were sworn in as JP’s so some of us were disappointed but I think it was a good meeting and I want to congratulate the Minister of Amerindian Affairs for making this possible. We should have more of these meetings.

Colin Andrews, Toshao, Moraikobai, Region Five- Developments through the meeting were great and I learned a lot, mainly through the Justice of the Peace training. I was sworn in as a JP and a Rural Constable. I will now be able to assist my community better with a lot of things since we have problems with the registration of births and deaths. In addition, the other important thing was that we were able to elect the three persons for the Indigenous Peoples Commission that was on hold for a while. We were also all able to express our views because of course all of us want to see these communities develop to a better standard from what they are today. Not that we were deprived but things have been a little slow. These three persons will now be able to give us more representation and achievements will be more. We want to have equal opportunities like everyone else.