THROUGH her inspiration and motivation, coupled with a life-long commitment to the youths of her Guyanese hometown, Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of Greenlight Guyana Educational Inc., Salome Osborne, has been successfully championing a cause that seeks to respond to the education and welfare needs of less fortunate children of communities in her hometown, Guyana.
Osborne, a tax consultant who resides in the USA, spends much of her time back and forth between New York and Guyana giving back by way of attending to the educational and welfare needs of the targeted communities.
A past student of Cambridge Academy in Georgetown, Guyana, in acknowledgement of her distinguished works, the New York-based Cambridge Academy Alumni Association International (CAAAI) in 2010 conferred on Osborne, the prestigious Robert A. Pinkerton Award for Outstanding Community Service.
GreenLight Guyana Educational Inc. for more than 12 years has been responding to the needs of children of three Primary Schools in West Coast Demerara- Bagotville; Nismes and Patentia.
Growing from strength to strength, the organisation having started- perhaps as merely a flicker- over the last 12 years, has grown from strength to strength, developing into a powerful “Green Light” within Guyana as the name suggests.
How it started
Sharing information with the Pepperpot Magazine on the genesis of the programme, Osborne who hails from Bagotville recalls that she was home on vacation during the summer of 2006, just at the re-opening of school when she saw a school-aged child out on the road and enquired why was he not in school. The child’s response to her was that he could not go to school since his mother did not have money to buy school clothes for him to turn out for the start of the term. She said she was devastated and moved to compassion on hearing the child’s sad story.
Sure enough, Osborne quickly took it up with the child’s parent and gave him a package that enabled him to get out to school as quickly as possible. Thereafter, she vowed to work assiduously towards ensuring children’s education is not threatened simply because they cannot afford school clothes. That, for her, should be a thing of the past.
With a huge heart of love, Osborne almost immediately sought to mobilise and galvanise like-minded relatives, friends and colleagues in New York with a view to getting a Not-for-Profit started. This would address the education and welfare needs of vulnerable children of three schools identified in the neighbourhood. The response was good and in record time the organisation was set up and things were set on stream.
What a blessing
The initiative started with the annual distribution of backpacks and school supplies, and so, providing tangible support for academic endeavours for more than 1500 young children of the students of the three schools, Osborne’s focus for a number of years was centred primarily on the distribution of backpacks and school supplies including books, magazines, geometry sets uniforms – complete with custom-made shirts and skirts/trousers, as well as shoes, socks and other necessities.
Another initiative on which the organisation initially embarked was the distribution of hot meals on three days per week, which guaranteed the children a hot meal at school for three days per week.
Meanwhile, in the spirit of partnering, another US-based group known as ‘Community Uprising’, which partnered with Greenlight Guyana Inc. in 2018, will, for the first time this year take on the distribution of back-packs. That distribution was slated for August 23 at the respective schools and Ms Osborne has been invited to officiate.
But Osborne, who is also in Guyana to celebrate their achievements with the children, has been asked to participate at the evening’s programmes and will also be making voluntary presentations to students in recognition of stellar performance.
And there’s more good news for Greenlight Guyana Educational Inc. Osborne told the Pepperpot Magazine that the organisation has also scored some hi-achievers at this year’s sitting of Caribbean Secondary Education Certificate (CSEC) Examinations.
“ I’d like to admonish [children] to ‘Stay in School’, and those who are going on to further studies, I wish them every success. She said some will be going on to write CAPE, while others – CSEC, and urged them to apply themselves diligently. “I’d just like to encourage them to stay focused and to come to school! and to stay in school! – no dropping out and those who are going on to further studies, I wish them every success,” she said.
More good news
And there’s, more good news for Greenlight, Osborne disclosed that the students who did well at CSEC and are moving on to write the Caribbean Advanced Proficiency Examinations (CAPE) at the next sitting, were all members of her Book Club and even helped run the Book Club where the children met on Saturday mornings and read for two hours.
Placing a high premium on education and reading as a tool, Osborne continues to exhort the children to stay in school and to make reading a habit. Towards this end, she has established a Book Centre in her home at Bagotsville where the children are allowed to read. The Book Club started in 2007 with a Summer Reading Programme held on her premises in Bagotville.
Every Saturday morning compete to see who would read the most books. The highest record scored was by a child who’d read 78 books during the period of completion.
Looking back with pride and admiration on what the reading programme had achieved, Osborne recalled: “It started with them coming to read on Saturday mornings. I challenged them to see how many books they could read, and one youngster read over 78 books.”
To motivate the children as well as teachers, Osborne brought in more books, as well as teaching aids for the teachers at the schools and that certainly motivated them to move on with the programme.
And now, 12 years on, her advice to children and teachers is: “ I would also like to say to the teachers that, in keeping with the Ministry of Education’s thrust, they too, have to step up their game, because they too have some work to do. “
Each year, Greenlight would host a graduation and awards ceremony for top performers, as an incentive for stellar performance. The bursaries come in the form of cash incentives, laptops, backed with other gifts from the CEO and other supporters such as past teachers and headteachers drawn from the community.
Other initiatives Osborne organised and successfully implemented for the children include the distribution of clothing and annual toy distribution for the children, among other things.