Head of St. Francis Community Developers, Alex Foster is the backbone behind youth and community development in the Corentyne area.
He told the Pepperpot Magazine that his organisation is a non-profit one that assists the needy and the disadvantaged, as much as, possible and also works in collaboration with Food for the Poor and all the international donors’ agencies; the private sector; the government; and community grouping.
Foster, who is doing a lot of community work behind the scenes is working in collaboration with the other social service providers to enable them to grow out of the state of dependency in becoming sustainable.
St. Francis Community Developers has been involved in community and youth development for the past 33 years and since 2000 they became fully self-sufficient, that is, free from donor funding to carry out their daily operations.
“As the Head of St. Francis Community Developers I am also the Chairman of the Board of Directors for the National Coordinating of Non-Governmental Organisations (NGOs) for Guyana and using that platform to work with local NGOs to teach them of the things we have been able to master over the past 33 years so that their organisation can grow from strength to strength and be able to become like us,” Foster said.
He added that they have 33 centres across Berbice and they work in Regions Five and Six, as well as, across the 10 administrative regions of Guyana with the social service providers that collaborate with the donor community, including Food for the Poor Guyana.
“My job as adviser with the Public Health Minister and Focal Point Coordinator for that Ministry allows me to interact with groups across the country and I am the Guyana representative for Pan Caribbean Partnership against HIV and Aids (PANCAP), the Regional Coordinating Mechanism for Guyana which allows me to sit on the Country Coordinating Mechanism (CCM) for Global Funding so I have the unique opportunity of travelling the 10 regions,” Foster said.
He stated that St. Francis Community Developers work with groups and their target groups include ordinary citizens and youths.
“They say we are Jack of all trades and master of quite a few so we have music classes on the weekends, and training on-going with a complete package and we also act as regional office for a lot of our coordinating partners for like Food for the Poor. We provide training facilities like the guest house, the dormitory, the coordination office, and space for most NGOs in this region,” Foster said.
He disclosed that they have trained more than 11,000 youths, as well as villagers in 26 different disciplines such as entrepreneurship, and life and skills training activities so they can be fully employed.
Foster stated that they have been successful in their training aspect as a result of full collaboration with Food for the Poor Guyana, USAID, the Commonwealth Youth Programme and other partners they worked with over the years.
“Growing up in a poor family with a single parent caused me to find a way to help mine and others, who are in a similar situation, so the motivation came out of an active grandmother, who was involved in the congregational church. And subsequently, I grew up in the Catholic Church where I was involved in a lot of outreach work. My motivation came from my church background and I never regret it,” he said.
During a tour of the facility, the Pepperpot Magazine saw a library at St. Francis Community Developers located at Rose Hall, Corentyne, Berbice, which was established since 1991; a fully air-conditioned and furnished with all modern amenities guest house; a newly constructed G$100M Agro Processing Centre; a storage bond; a 30-person female dormitory and a large dining hall; a boardroom among other well-kept facilities.
The centre also boasts a shade house and it is one of 16 within Region Six and they have 12 play schools with 600 children in attendance.