Connecting local responses around the world
"We wanted to do this for ourselves as councilors, during heritage month, and especially so, because we are a new executive with responsibility to govern our village." Toshao Carl Peneux, the village leader of Orealla / Siparuta an indigenous community on the border with Suriname.
The indigenous community of Guyana, comprise just about 10% of the national population but occupy almost 80% of the 83,000 sq. ml. land mass. Their value to Guyana earned them a one month heritage observation where each of the more than 200 villages celebrate by showcasing their culture and other values. There is an hype of activities during the September month celebration.
For Orealla / Siparuta, engaging the whole council to explore working as a team and developing a village plan was one of the month's activities.
The Toshao [captain] a retired head teacher remembered engaging in an activity some years ago that stimulated his interest in mobilizing people to think differently and doing differently as a result, agreed to apply this concept with his team of fairly young councilors.
The conversation began with what are we most proud of? The response was:
We are a community of peaceful people.
Proud that we are up keeping our indigenous heritage.
Proud that our village has beautiful sceneries
Proud of Communication Services e.g GTT, TELEG, DIGICEL (Mobile), Radio Stations
Basic educational facilities (nursery, primary)
Proud of being Indigenous People by majority in this village.
Proud of the natural resources we have such as our creeks, savannahs, forest, wild life
Proud of our Arawak and Warrau culture
Proud that most of our residents can speak common English
Our Village is a titled area and belong to us
Of having the responsibilities of managing our own affairs/ resources
That we are capable of making good representation on behalf of ourselves
To be a people that is hungry for better opportunities in all aspects
The conversation thereafter and the councilors "..being hungry for better opportunities" led to their common dream:
"Orealla / Siparuta a modern and model indigenous village where good governance, vigorous education programme and tourism are the engine of our livelihood and socio-economic well being. Our tourism product is developed through appropriate infrastructure, modern health facilities and services; eco-friendly agriculture primary produce and value-added products; aggressive security services; sustainable sports; and preservation of our culture."
The reflection on governance indicated that more could have been achieved and that education could contribute to this achievement and in other areas as well, such as development of a aggressive tourism product. Tourism will be the hallmark of Orealla / Siparuta as indicative in the dream.
The key to putting us on this journey is having an effective team spirit as leaders with good management capability. The next conversation will be what does this [working as a team] mean for us?