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2021 was a year of mixed emotions. Some have pleasant memories. Others not so much. It was a year when the pandemic continued to rage, albeit not as bad as in 2020 given the vaccines which rolled out in December 2020, people were immunized and a greater level of consciousness was achieved in the management of the COVID-19 virus. That being said, many still operate as though the virus is a normal flu, and are openly flouting the guidelines that would mitigate spread.
Walking around Guyana the impression is given that vaccination means people no longer have to take precautions such as wearing masks, social distancing, and being in small crowds. Truth be told, the government has not engendered good practices, thereby failing to set the appropriate standards to combat the deadly virus.
The bounty of Guyana’s black gold (oil) continues to attract international attention. Akin to the California Gold Rush (1848-1855) many are packing their bags and moving to Guyana for opportunities. That Rush saw about 300,000 persons rushing to California. Travelling to Guyana is like travelling to a foreign destination, given the number of foreigners, the different languages, and different English accents encountered on the airplane.
The influx of foreigners is bound to have a rippling effect on local labour. The consequences, where unplanned, would not mean well for Guyanese skills and talent. There is no denying Guyana does not have all the required local skills and talents for a new oil and gas economy. What is of concern, however, is what the government is doing or not doing to ensure Guyanese can participate and compete.
It would be difficult to convince Guyanese, home and abroad, the government has a Development Plan. The environment looks like a free-for-all, without rules that would allow Guyanese deserving preferential treatment. There is that eerie feeling ordinary Guyanese are being left to fend for themselves and politicians are using their votes for personal enrichment.
Development is uneven, substandard, and chaotic. A major positive, however, is many still have within them the will to survive and are engaging in personal development. Home improvement efforts are bright spots even when the roads are dilapidated, garbage strewn around, and the surrounding environment looks untidy. People are doing their best even when it seems the government does not care about them, the environment, even-handedness, and infrastructural development.
Poverty is on the rise. More Guyanese are finding it difficult to cope with the rising cost of living on small salaries. It could only be wondered how the unemployed, vendors and small income earners are coping. It is evident that were it not for remittances the situation could have been worse. Guyanese are resilient people even when their faces are etched with the harsh conditions of living and the cruelty threw at them by an uncaring government.
Guyana is a blessed place and with undoubtedly smart people, although at times listening to some of our leaders and the way they manage things give rise to skepticism about their intellectual acumen and compassion. 2021 was a challenging year but Guyanese have the will to survive and the determination to improve their lives. They give true meaning to the cliché, where there is a will there is a way.
Women’s Page wishes all Guyanese a Happy and Prosperous New Year.