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The Ministry of Human Services and Social Security, through the Sexual Offences and Domestic Policy Unit have welcomed over 200 persons to the Community Advocates Network (ICAN) after a series of training.
The two-day training saw over 150 persons trained from Region Four and Five across two batches at Duke Lodge, Kingston and Police Officers’ training centre as well as 58 volunteers from Region Nine.
The programme ensured participants in-dept knowledge on the roles of CAN and an introduction to Gender-Based Violence. This was presented by head of the Unit, Dr. Cona Husbands.
Supervisor of the 914 toll-free hotline, Rishma Taylor educated the volunteers on the functions of the hotline as well as the Imatter mobile application.
Allizen Welch-Critchlow, who manages the Legal Pro Bono initiative gave a detailed presentation on the project that renders legal assistance to 500 victims yearly while Kester Harding presented on the Domestic Violence Act.
On the second day, the participants received training on the services of the Childcare and Protection Agency and Counter-Trafficking in Persons Unit. The new advocates also received training on conflict resolution and the Sexual Offences Act.
National powerlifter, Britny Mack explained, “I was thought about domestic violence, child abuse, human trafficking and so much more. I learnt how to bring about awareness in my community and implement what I learnt from the programme. You know in Guyana there are always programmes where they do a lot of talking but no action being done afterwards? With this programme I can see the effort being placed into what they are doing, I can see they are moving forward and making changes we need in the country and I think more persons should come on board…we as a community must work together.”
Dr. Aawab Hamid, “I joined this training because I felt I wanted to learn more about this and impact society positively. I was surprised that this training opened a lot of doors in my mind, there were things I thought I knew but it opened different perspectives and allowed me to see how subtle things are and how sometimes we think we know certain things but this showed me how to identify things on a much broader level, empathize more and empower me with the resources to help people and who to reach out to, so I think after this training is done, I’m more empowered to help society and imply things that vulnerable people may need so overall this is something I wish I had done earlier, it’s incredible and I applaud the Ministry for conducting this training.”
Kimberly Alberts, who works within the Unit explained, “The Community Advocates Network initiative has trained numerous individuals countrywide. These advocates have signed, sworn and committed themselves to join the fight against domestic violence.”
She added, “They are now equipped with the knowledge and skills to assist the Ministry in eliminating violence from a grassroot level. They will return to their respective communities and function as the eyes and ears while acting as the voice of the vulnerable who are experiencing any type of violence. This initiative is another way of letting victims and survivors of violence who are afraid to speak up, know that there is help available to live a violence-free life.” (DPI)