Jeff Green | Feb 16, 2006
Feature Article - February 16, 2006
Feature ArticleFebruary 16, 2006
SharbotLakegrad to work withAmerindians inGuyana
For the past five summers Julia Kent has run the Central Frontenac Swim Program, but this summer Julia will be working in a remote Amerindian community in Guyana with Queen’s Project on International Development (QPID). Julia is a graduate of Sharbot Lake High School and a 3rd year student at Queen’s University.
QPID is a non-profit, student run, development organization at Queen’s University that sends students on projects throughout the world. QPID membership includes students from a variety of disciplines who work on projects related to their respective areas of study for three-month summer placements.
QPID has been working in various communities in Guyana for 15 years. This year Julia is one of six students who have been selected to work on one of the Guyana projects. Julia and her project partner will be working in the Amerindian community of Yarashirma.
Located up Wakapoa creek, the community is a two hour boat ride away from the closest urban area. This community is stereotypical of an Amerindian Guyanese community as it has no electricity or water purification system. Julia’s project has two specific goals: the establishment of a community library and a literacy summer camp for the youth of Yarashirma.
As it currently stands, the people from the Yarashirima area must travel over an hour (paddling in a dugout canoe) to reach the nearest library. Once a library in Yarashirima is established, the possibility opens up for activities such as a library club and reading classes, which are currently taking place in other regions. In addition, the primary school will then have access to books.
The second phases of the project will take place when the children end school in June. The children in this community are taught in a one- room school where it is difficult to learn with only one teacher. This camp will provide an experience in an alternative learning setting and foster an appreciation of literacy, while promoting self-esteem and confidence. The objective of the summer camp will be to improve literacy rates within the community, while also providing leadership training for the youth.
The Amerindians, who make up about 6% of the Guyanese population, have more than three-quarters of their population living below the poverty line. Currently, the government is working with the Amerindians to decrease this statistic by creating access to potable water, improved roads, technical assistance to increase agriculture, and access to basic health services and primary education.