Close to 1000 kids, inclusive of over 300 migrant children, in various communities in the Mabaruma Sub District, are beneficiaries of quality early childhood development programmes and family support services in Barima-Waini, Region One.

This was highlighted by UNICEF Guyana at a recent high-level visit to the region with the Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Foreign Affairs in Canada, Maninder Sidhu, High Commissioner of Canada to Guyana, His Excellency Mark Berman, Director General for Central America and the Caribbean, Sylvie Bédard, Political Counsellor, Caroline Mireault, Counsellor, Regional Heads, among others.

UNICEF explained that in 2021, the Department of Foreign Affairs Trade and Development, Canada provided a grant of three million Canadian Dollars to provide a safe and secure environment in Guyana’s hinterland and selected coastal areas, to ensure that children under 4 years old and their parents have access to quality childhood development programmes.

The Early Childhood Development (ECD) programme is one component of the three-million-dollar project that was realized in several communities in the Mabaruma Sub District. The communities include Hosororo, Mabaruma Central, White Water, Khans Hill, Yarakita and Kamwatta, all areas with an increased number of migrant families.

During the visit to the ECD space at Khans Hill Health post by the team from Canada, UNICEF and Regional Officers, Community Health Worker (CHW), Theresa Singh conducted a brief tour at the facility and expressed the benefits of the programme in the community.

“I have learned a lot through this programme. It is a very good thing within this community. Children are bolder and have an increased interest in learning and wanting to go to school,” said Singh.

“We have also seen increased communication with parent and child…both children and parent work to help each other in the space especially when they come to the clinic. It also helped me personally with my daughter and my nieces…we were taught that as we develop, we should take our learnings to other communities and engage them so others can benefit,” she added.

The CHW explained that Khans Hill Health Post was frequented by many migrant families in the area. Though many have moved to other communities, the remaining migrants continued to utilize the space with many children now at the nursery level. With concerns about the language gap, she noted that the majority of the migrants understand English in the area.

Parents at the event also lauded the program, noting that it has contributed to their children learning colours, shapes and numbers to name a few.

Also boasting of the benefits of the programme was Regional Health Officer, Dr. Steven Cheefoon who explained that the region worked rigorously with UNICEF Guyana to implement ECD posts at some border points of entry within the region to integrate better children into the schools.

“Our matriculation rate from 2021 to now has seen quite an improvement from 12 percent to 17 percent. Thanks to this programme we are able to see more children in schools who are more in a state of readiness to start school, including two autistic children. Because of this partnership with the Canadian government and UNICEF we have been able to accelerate development within this region,” he said.

Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Foreign Affairs in Canada, Maninder Sidhu while at the Health Post in Khans Hill said, “Canada is proud to support the project, in partnership with UNICEF, to improve access to health and education for boys and girls in hinterland communities in Guyana.”

UNICEF Guyana also took the opportunity to express its sincere appreciation to the Department of Foreign Affairs Trade and Development, Canada. “We are grateful for your generous contribution to children and parents of migrant and host communities in the hinterland and select coastal regions and we look forward to future collaboration with the Canadian government,” said Adolescent Development Officer at UNICEF, Jewel Crosse.

To date, 13 Health Workers have been trained and 804 community stakeholders in region one have benefitted from ECD parenting sessions facilitated by UNICEF Guyana, and have integrated the ECD strategies into their daily routines. The programme emphasizes nurturing care and early stimulation and aims to ensure children, particularly the most vulnerable, have the best start in life. (UNICEF Guyana)


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