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I’m sitting on the balcony at the guest house in Paramakotoi looking out on the majestic Kawa mountains, the cool breezes blowing over the rugged and harsh terrain. I have just spent $2500 for 24 hours of internet access which ended in 17 minutes.
The WhatsApp message I’m able to read has me stunned. Our national resource fund now has one billion US dollars accumulated in it! I want to celebrate. This must be a good thing, something to celebrate but in a community where a small icee soft drink costs $400, a small bottle of water $300, no phone service and the only communication with the outside world ranges from $2000 for two hours of internet or as they say when available $2500 for 24 hours something seems radically wrong.
Here in what most people would consider the “bush” there are few jobs, you must farm so you can eat, so your family can eat. The jobs available are as teachers, nurses, a medex or in the regional administration system so competition is stiff and it’s hard. The local shops depend on supplies to come in by air so you can understand the high costs. We complain on the coast but here you can appreciate how much harder life is.
I ask about the free internet access for schools I put in place in my other life a few years ago. They explain it’s now slow, more persons using it and no expansion in capacity, no maintenance over the last two years. Our consistent failure as a people to build on the good regardless of who did it continues to shock me. The petty vindictive political decisions that continue to hurt only ordinary Guyanese. Again, the billion US dollars sitting in the fund crosses my mind. Will we see any of it improving the lives of all Guyanese. Could we at least provide freer internet everywhere? A good size solar panel for every household that could provide in some way more of the conveniences of life. Lights at night for children to study by, real online learning a possibility, telemedicine opportunities to improve health for a people who can only hope they will ‘catch a ride to Georgetown’ in the event of an emergency. A drop from that one billion could make the change.
I am broken. Is this the best we can do for our people? Talk of fancy million US dollar projects many starting without feasibility studies while the majority are struggling to find food, water, a roof over their heads and education for the next generation. This cannot be the way forward. This cannot be the best we can do.
I think again of the fund and the dirty politics where a select few will now decide how we spend OUR money and not the large cross section of representatives the original legislation mandated. Yes! this is the time of brute force and ignorance.
How much longer before we can give our teachers, nurses, pensioners and all the venerable groups a livable wage. We didn’t have it to give before, thankfully we do now but again we can’t seem to do the right thing. Sprinkle the crumbs and call it a cash grant, divide and rule when there is so much better we can do!
With our bountiful resources of the past and our newfound oil and gas wealth we still consistently fail to do better for our citizens. And the stupid unproductive blame game and rhetoric of who had 28 year, 23 or 5 years just doesn’t cut it and highlights our inability to all work together for a better Guyana. How will this madness all end?
My mother who passed on used to say “Cath not in my lifetime.” In my youth my impertinent self would respond “hell mom in my lifetime”. Today I say “Mom you were right not in my lifetime either.”