Thursday, April 21, 2011

We are too busy with administrative functions!

Riding on a bicycle along the #78 Village public road on the second day of my vacation to Guyana I noticed a sign that said “Help Center” where used to be Melrose Bar. Naturally, this sparked my interest. When I lived there, 21 years ago, nothing of this nature existed. This space served as a gathering place for us kids on Sunday after lunch to party and dance the weekend away. 

So I went in to check the place out. I entered a sparse space with partitioned areas and a few people milling around. There were a couple of people in the entrance area, all stunned by my entrance. No one offered a welcome, so I initiated conversation with the closest person and asked to speak to someone in charge. The first question was, “Wa u want?” After indicating that I was visiting from the US and very interested in what “Help” they offered the community, the lady conferred with the other ladies present. Eventually, a younger woman approached me and asked specifically, “What  I wanted to know.” Again, I reiterated that I was interested in what they had to offer here.

She walked around and sat behind a huge desk stacked with papers and told me that they are a non-profit organization that helps people with HIV/AIDS, children of HIV/AIDS parents, sex workers, and children in need. I asked if I could sit, she obliged. I inquired about funding for such a place. She expressed that they get help from private donors, Non Governmental Organizations (NGO), and United States Agency for International Development (USAID). I suggested that I may know a US based organization that may be interested in helping their cause, New Jersey Arya Samaj Humanitarian Mission. The young lady got a little more comfortable, then replied that they are willing to work with anyone who is willing to help. A young man came over my shoulder and got the young lady’s attention, she indicated that she was late for a session. I politely asked if we could continue this conversation some other time. She said, “Come back anytime, we always open.” With that I left.

After being knocked over by the rampant drug use, careless regard for society, kids not interested in going to school and a host of other issues that affect Corriverton I decided to return and continue my inquiry. Upon attempting to walk in the door a middle aged woman approached me and asked, “Wa u want?” I politely smiled and indicated that I would like to continue my conversation with the young lady who was sitting at her desk. The middle aged woman positioned herself in front of the door as if to block my entrance and said, “She busy with paper work, we just finish a meeting with USAID and we very busy with a lot of administrative things.” I asked if I could come back the next day. She said, “We busy, tomorrow.” I asked about the next day. Same answer. So I asked if I could make an appointment, the answer, you guessed it, “We don’t have time, we busy.” The young lady looked at me from her desk helpless, as if say, “Sorry”. I turned and walked out disappointed.

Wait. Did this place have a sign that said “Help Center”? Who were they helping and how? I have more questions now than answers. Why could I not get a straight answer, on what they did? Why would they not speak with me? Why did the young lady sat silently? Why did the middle aged woman block my entry? Where were the people they were helping? And how? If they are helping people with funding from USAID, do we not have a right to know how our money is being used?