SOCIAL worker Maureen Hope doesn’t take a day off because she is so focused on hearing the voices of the unheard and spends most of her waking hours performing counselling sessions in collaboration with Childlink Guyana Inc.
She is a resident of Crane Village, West Coast Demerara and a mother of two, who has been living in the community for the past 35 years.
She relocated to Crane Village after marriage, but her husband passed away and she is a mother to two grown children.
Hope is the President of the Youth with a Purpose – A Community Development Council Group in the village and is a mentor for the youths.
The organisation is non-governmental and it has a board of directors as well as community members, all from the village and they operate out of a community centre building, which was there since the establishment of the village.
Hope told the Pepperpot Magazine that she is currently working on a project with Childlink Guyana Inc. to reach 1,000 boys during their sensitisation campaign on sexual abuse.
She is also engaged in outreaches at schools and is also holding sessions with members of the Guyana Police Force (GPF) on child abuse.
Hope is also looking for advocates, but her main focus is on boys because they are often abused and do not come forward to tell their stories, and she is reaching out to those boys during her campaign.
“Often boys are abused and they do not say anything because they are afraid and do not know what to do and I want to assist,’ she said.
Hope added that she works mostly with abused children and provide her services in terms of counselling and does a lot of volunteer community work.
“I have had a lot of success stories with the children I work with and that makes me feel good and keeps me motivated to help others,” she said.
She has been with the NGO for the past five years and has initiated many workshops and skills-training sessions to empower young people in the community.
Youth with a Purpose – A Community Development Council is registered and they have the Board of Industrial Training (BIT) on board with skills training, but since the pandemic, they have had fewer activities.
Hope stated that they have trained 30 young women in garment construction and 30 others in catering and she is happy to report that they are all gainfully employed and are earning.
She reported that they will soon embark on a block-making training course, in which the young men of the community will benefit once they get sponsors to assist in providing the raw materials.
The motto of Youth with a Purpose – A Community Development Council group, is “Empowering and motivating youths for a better life” and that is indeed the aim of Hope’s vision for the young people in the community.
Fabric Arts, cooking, floral arrangements, craft and sewing.
Meanwhile, the Pepperpot Magazine met another upstanding member of the community, Pamela Downer, who does a lot of volunteer work as well, teach arts and craft, catering, sewing, floral arrangements and sewing.
She has established a classroom at her home and is also the Vice President of the Youth with a Purpose – A Community Development Council Group.
She would conduct classes at her home on Wednesdays from 09:00hrs to 17:00hrs with two sessions for fabric arts and sewing.
Downer disclosed that when her peers were playing with dolls, her mother gifted her a sewing machine at age nine and she began sewing and got good at it.
She reported that it was one of those pedal sewing machines, the old-time ones, and she used to practise on it until she got the hang of sewing, but didn’t make it into a career until she wanted to earn.
“Most people in my family are either seamstresses or chefs, and it is something that runs through the family tree and we are gifted like that,” she said.
Downer began her teaching career at schools in Arts and Craft in 1981 and taught at several schools and churches.
She later went on to teach at other organisations and is working with the Board of Industrial Training (BIT), Basic needs, Ministry of Finance and would hold both private and government-funded sessions for adults, youths and single parents.
The mother of three moved to Crane Village in 1997 after marriage and is originally from New Road, Vreed-en-Hoop.
She is the grandmother of 11 and also does voluntary service with the community.
Downer is a seamstress, a caterer, and at Christmas she would do floral arrangements for sale, do large- scale catering of international dishes and local cuisine and was able to incorporate her hands-on training into her teaching.