Guyana’s Jobless Sugar Estate Workers Children Continue To Suffer Hunger

The continuous onslaught on the sugar workers in Guyana on finding meaningful employment after the cruel closure of the sugar estates has forced many to abandon their places of residence in pursuit of a livelihood. Others are still awaiting their complete severance pays whilst some have taken their lives unfortunately as a way out of this sudden abject poverty. Out of this crisis, a small band of volunteers has responded to the call to prepare lunches for school children who were forced to be absent from school. They call themselves Service to Humanity and have registered their entity to serve the underprivileged children in Skeldon Guyana. Their motto, therefore, is today’s children tomorrow’s future!

I was invited to support their cause since February 2018 and have raised awareness and funds for the scholarships as well as a daily feeding program for some two hundred and fifty students. During a recent visit with the volunteers and students, I was impressed with their level of dedication as well as the support they have received including the American Embassy humanitarian body and that of the Guyana Islamic Trust and the National Committee for Sisters’ Affairs (NACOSA).

Canadians have responded kindly during Ramadan and during Qurbani to continue serving these children regardless of race or religion. It is heartening to receive beautiful cards from kindergarten students as well as from high school students saying thank you. The meals are prepared by volunteers and the main founder and coordinator has given her painstaking time and care towards these children. She is Shanta Youngkam and the light in the lives of the many beneficiaries. The Service to Humanity group is hoping that the Guyana Government would return the workers to meaningful jobs and end the apparent discrimination against East Indians- the main workers and beneficiaries of the sugar cane industry-  started by the British Imperialist in the West Indies.

The number of meals has passed the five thousand mark since February and a few scholarships have been awarded. Among some other humanitarian efforts, the group has helped with includes medical outreach in collaboration with Humanitarian Assistance Program of US Embassy in Guyana (HAPS) and the Central Islamic Organization of Guyana (CIOG) as well as outreach to the Albion Orphanage in Berbice and that in Enmore – East Coast Demerara (ECD). Even the East Canje seniors have benefited from the Qurbani program.

However, there has been one incident that the newly formed volunteer humanitarians have stepped up to and that is the families of the fishermen attack. Earlier this year some twenty-five fishermen were victims of a gruesome attack at sea and many lost their lives. Many of the families have been struggling with young families without a livelihood and more so they are traumatized. The group has consistently assisted with hampers etc. with such individual cases.

The highlight of the services rendered by Service to Humanity is to ensure students regardless of background get ample support to continue their education for with education anything is possible. It was sweet sugar cane sweat that fed the echelons of Guyanese society with scholars and professionals and of course Presidents and Prime Ministers. Let us not give up on them, not yet.

Malcolm X was the greatest American and in the walls of prison he gained an unparalleled level of education that made him received an honorary doctorate- he said Education is the passport to success!