By Lazeena Yearwood
A new facility for children living with disabilities will soon be constructed at Region Three (Essequibo Islands-West Demerara) through funding from the United Arab Emirates (UAE).
The US$500,000 (GUY$100,000,000) provided by the UAE is a “demonstration of love” for the children, President Dr Irfaan Ali said at the sod-turning ceremony on Sunday.
The UAE Minister for International Cooperation, Reem Al Hashimy, and her delegation are on a day visit to Guyana. On Sunday, she accompanied the First family, Minister of Human Services and Social Security, Dr. Vindhya Persaud, Minister within the Ministry of Public Works, Deodat Indar, the UAE Ambassador to Guyana and Brazil, Saleh Ahmed Al Suwaidi and Regional Chairman, Inshan Ayube at the site located at Crane, West Coast Demerara.
“As we continue to work with the Government of the UAE in building stronger partnership for the joint prosperity of the people of both our countries, and for the development of long-lasting friendly sustainable relationships between our governments, this building and this facility will stand tall, and would be a physical demonstration of what love is,” President Ali said.
He added that the construction of this facility boosts the existing relationship between the governments and private sectors of both countries. A total of 150,000 Guyanese are currently receiving software development training through a partnership between Guyana and the UAE.
Minister Hashimy said the UAE delegation is pleased to visit Guyana for the auspicious occasion which will strengthen the nations and more specifically, the children who will benefit from this facility.
The minister said although Guyana and the UAE have different languages, dress codes, history, and weather, the similarity that vulnerable children share is humbling.
“Perhaps this is the highlight of my visit, to be able to inaugurate a school that is for those who are most vulnerable and most loving in our society.
“A school for young children and their families so that we better understand how we can help them and grow with them and learn from them,” Minister Hashimy said.
Upon completion, the facility will have seven buses which will be used to transport the children from their homes to the school and return them home.
President Ali, in agreement, said that despite the cultural differences, this is a mark of goodness and, in service to humanity and forms a safe environment for the children. He explained that the project comes after discussions between the First Lady, Arya Ali; Minister of Human Services and Social Security, Dr Vindhya Persaud, and the UAE, where they highlighted the need for such a facility.
“Our little children who are differently abled, they too must enjoy a good life, they too must enjoy a prosperous life, they too must be able to experience the joys of life in a comfortable environment, in an environment in which they are safe, protected, their parents can find comfort in having their children there.
“We are showing that in the world, we have a common commitment to ensure equity in access so notwithstanding the schools that were already budgeted for this year, we now can expand the programme with this gift of love from the UAE,” the Head-of-State said.
Over the last three years, the government has placed significant focus on the vulnerable and those living with disabilities and provided much-needed financial assistance.
It has also focused on training teachers to care for these children and developed programmes that help the children to learn better but at their own pace. Through the government and the Office of the First Lady, children living with disabilities are able to join programmes that assist them with integration into the workforce.