‘Dear Children of Guyana’ – A letter from President Irfaan Ali


See below a letter by President Dr Irfaan Ali to the children of Guyana. The letter was included in the President’s Independence Day address to the nation following the devastating fire that killed 19 children at Mahdia, Region Eight.

On this the 57th anniversary of your homeland you are asked to share the pain, bear the sorrow and shoulder the responsibility of helping each other, supporting each other and uplifting each other. 19 souls from different homes, different families and communities banded together in pursuit of their dreams and hopes, shattered by the instant nature of death.

This tragic day must bring all of you closer together in your schools, value your friendship, share abundantly your love and kindness, shoulder each other’s pains, counsel each other with wisdom and pressure each other only with good thoughts and actions. Learn from mistakes, remember your God and lean on his mercies and favours.

Never forget the fragility of life, open yourself to good counsel, be respectful, pay tribute to your teachers, reach for the most distraught among you and give them your hands of friendship, share from your abundance among those who lease have and always remember this is your home in which you were gifted life and among you lies the fabric of nationhood. Children of the future who will inherit the pains and sorrows, the wisdom and truth, the honour and dignity and the success that must come with it.

Let not circumstances spoil this inheritance, let not short-term joy be the replacement for hard work and present not your self-interest at the detriment of the collective. Bind yourselves in a universal whole in which peace, contentment, love, patience and mercy are the flames of your existence. It is these times of trials and hardship that would test you, your resolve and your sense of purpose.

Dig deep and uproot all that strangles you internally and breathe fresh air into your system with the hope that the new day brings and the understanding that together you will succeed, together you will overcome and together you will inherit this home into your care and safe keeping.

In the meantime, we the custodians of this baton to be passed on to you, pledge to nurture it and create in it opportunities through which all of you will flourish with the realisation of your hopes and aspiration.

To our children of Mahdia Secondary and the dorms, you must have many thoughts and questions but know that our collective shoulders as a nation are yours. Your sorrow is ours and your pain we share. The horizon at this hour appears grey and the clouds of rain fill your tears and the songs of the birds, the freshness of the wind, and the existence of life brings a heavy burden.

Of those angels among you we have lost to the gardens of heaven let not their spirit, love and earthly presence be lost. You must now take their dreams, their aspirations and their hope and realise it so that through each of you – they will live, they will shine and their parents and loved ones will find peace in your successes and your presence. Forget not the beautiful memories, cherish the times you shared, knowing at all times your family is all of us.

All of us belong to one mother- this land – our land, Guyana the free. Oh motherland guard these your children strengthen them in your bosom and let them know how worthy they are, strengthen them in their heritage, enrich them with the sunshine and shelter them from the rains. Oh this we ask thee great mother Guyana the free.

God Bless our Motherland! God bless the people of Guyana!

I thank you.

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