– massive May month activities plannedProfessor Pedro Welch, Chairman of the Barbados Reparations Task Force, with the Reparations Relay Baton before it was handed over to GuyanaIn keeping with the Caribbean Reparation Commission’s (CRC) International Reparations Relay (IRR), the Foreign Affairs Ministry on Wednesday received the Reparation’s Baton from its Barbadian counterpart.The baton and torch will be presented to the national reparations commissions across the region at youth rallies organised under the banner ‘Roots, Rock, Reggae, Reparations’ which will celebrate the principles and programmes of the Caribbean and global reparatory justice movements.From Guyana, the baton will be taken to other Caribbean Community (Caricom) countries during the course of the year. Magnificently carved from fine Barbados mahogany wood, the baton is a symbol of justice, that has engraved on it, a map of Africa, the words “Reparations Now,” representing the 15 Caricom countries. The relay will culminate in Jamaica later this year where the Emancipation Rebellion, led by Sam Sharpe, will be remembered and celebrated.Chairman of the Guyana Reparation Commission, Dr Eric Phillips told Guyana Times on Friday that there are about a dozen different activities planned for May that will be centred around the torch. He spoke of a massive youth rally, which will see the baton being taken to several villages throughout Berbice, Demerara and Essequibo.“We are now looking at a three-week programme beginning around May 13 and ending around the 28, mainly weekend driven. The programme is contextualised in the International Decade of People of African Descent in recognition of justice and development and we are looking to have global interest during the Guyana’s programme”. He said further details on the plans by the Reparation Commission here, which is also working in concert with the Caribbean Reparation Commission, will be made available as the time draws closer.Guyana, like the other Caribbean countries, remains steadfast in its calls for Britain to make its due payment to the descendants of those who suffered in the massive slave trade which spread between the 16th and 19th centuries.Earlier this month, the Caribbean Diaspora was called upon to support Caricom’s calls for the UK to pay reparations as compensation for its involvement in slavery and the slave trade.So far, there has been no definitive outcome of the reparation issue to date, as regional leaders are still awaiting answers from Britain authorities concerning reparation for slavery. The Region recently pushed their campaign further, when, on behalf of the 15-member countries of Caricom, Barbados’ Prime Minister Freundel Stuart, who is also the Chairman of Caricom Reparation Commission formed in 2013, wrote and sent a formal letter of complaint to the British Foreign Office seeking reparation. Stuart called on London to formally acknowledge the Region’s demands for payment for the Transatlantic Slave Trade.The Caricom Reparations Commission, which was launched in July 2013, had set a number of demands to the former European slave trading nations.These include that those countries providing diplomatic help to persuade countries such as Ghana and Ethiopia, to offer citizenship to the children of people from the Caribbean who “return” to Africa; devising a developmental strategy to help improve the lives of poor communities in the Caribbean still devastated by the after-effects of slavery; supporting cultural exchanges between the Caribbean and West Africa to help Caribbean people of African descent rebuild their sense of history and identity; supporting literacy drives designed to improve educational levels that are still dire in many Caribbean communities; and providing medical assistance to the Region, which is struggling with high levels of chronic diseases such as hypertension and Type Two Diabetes that the Caricom Reparations Commission links to the fallout from slavery.Caricom Reparations Committee Chairman, Sir Hilary Beckles had said that the plan was also to set out areas of dialogue with former slave-trading nations including the United Kingdom, France, Spain, Portugal, the Netherlands, Norway, Sweden and Denmark.The claims are being channelled through the United Nations Convention on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination and processed with the help of the London law firm Leigh Day.The economies of Caricom Member States reportedly total close to US$78 billion in Gross Domestic Product (GDP), which would place the Region at 65th in the world if it were a single country.Reports are that the Region cannot claim much in the way of the economic blow. However, after having suffered over 400 years of slavery and colonialism at the hands of European powers, its demands for reparations possess enormous moral authority.The Transatlantic Slave Trade brought over 10 million captured Africans to work as chattel slaves in sugar and cotton plantations throughout the Caribbean and the Americas. It was the largest forced migration in human history.Today, Caricom nations have a population of 16 million, and the Diaspora in the United States, Canada and Europe totals about five million people.
Supporters of the People’s Progressive Party/Civic (PPP/C) on Thursday held a protest calling for the resignation of chairman of the Guyana Elections Commission Dr Steve Surujbally.With placards and chants, the PPP/C supporters protested in front Gecom’s New Amsterdam office on Princess Elizabeth Road, demanding the chairman of Gecom’s resignation.Region Six Chairman David Armagon, who strongly supported the protest, alleged that Dr Surujbally did not conduct a fair and free election on May 11, 2015.He explained that the PPP/C supporters do not want Surujbally to remain at Gecom. The party wants to see him tender his resignation or be replaced before another election is held in Guyana.Armagon said the protest is a continuation of an exercise started in Georgetown earlier this year.“As you know we have a petition in court, the petition is not being heard so it seems as though the Elections Commission and the courts are dragging their feet on this matter. We want Surujbally to exit Gecom.” Armagon said.The Regional Chairman said too that the now Opposition party will continue to protest until Surujbally either resigns or is replaced, as the party has lost confidence in him.He continued: “And we want the Elections Petition to be heard so that this matter can be dealt with and we will be able to show the Guyanese public how the election was rigged.”The petition was filed since June 2015 and it has yet to be heard in court.It was filed on the grounds that there were voting by unregistered persons, multiple voting, unsealed or improperly sealed ballot boxes, PPP/C ballot attendants and counting agents prevented from accompanying ballot boxes and the counting of PPP/C votes in favour of the APNU/AFC coalition. The petition also asks the court to order a recount of all the ballots cast on that day.
Editors Note:The following traditional story won the first prize at the 2nd Annual Peter Y. Ballah Traditional Storytelling Competition held Saturday, March 29, 2014 at the David Kuyon Forum for Human Rights and Culture in Gbarnga, Bong County. Organized by an NGO called Village People Empowerment (ViPE), the competition brought together 15 traditional storytellers from around Liberia in the initial stage of a larger project aimed at preserving Liberia’s rich culture. ViPE is founded by Rudolf Janke, a German national. Aptly named after the late Liberian cultural icon Peter Y. Ballah, the first traditional storytelling event was held just months before the icon passed away in 2012. Ballah was also honored for his expert folkloric renditions at the event that year and it was decided that an annual traditional storytelling competition would be named in his honor. The 15 contestants were vetted by a panel of 6 jurors based on the message, appeal, appropriateness, delivery and overall coherence of the stories in the Liberian context. Consideration was given for the use of music and dance, both of which are typically used to add flavor to the stories and solidify the traditional context. The jurors chose three finalists who would later in the afternoon perform their stories before a live audience of over a hundred people of all ages. The finalists included Mrs. Yomo N. Numa of Bomi County; Mr. Tony T. L. Kerdoe of Nimba County and Mr. Emmanueal F. Tamba of Bong County. Numa’s story, “What I Will Do?” was about a frustrated young wife who consulted a medicine man in an effort to make her husband love her. Kerdoe’s story “Leadership”, converges chickens and politics (who would have thunk it?) in a very important lesson about leaders and followers. Tamba’s story, “No One is Like A Brother”, examines the deep crease between two brothers who find themselves on either side of the poverty line and the wealthy one’s wife’s effort to bring them together. After all three were presented, the audience was asked to vote and Tamba’s story emerged to claim the first prize. The story was actually composed by Tamba who, in his acceptance remarks, revealed that when he was growing up, he shared with a friend that he wanted to be a storyteller. “My friend laughed,” narrated Tamba, “but that did not stop me from pursuing my dream.” The Daily Observer is proud to publish Emmanuel F. Tamba’s award-winning masterpiece, “No One Is Like A Brother”. We shall make an effort to publish the stories of the other 2 finalists in subsequent editions. A video of each will also be posted on our website, www.liberianobserver.com. Enjoy!No One Is Like A Brother“Many entreat the favor of the nobility, and every man is a friend to one who gives gift. But all the brothers of a poor man hate him; how much more do his friends go far from him? He may pursue them, yet they abandon him.” (Proverb 19:6-7)Once there were two brothers who lived with their parents in one of the villages in central Liberia. These two brothers were called Pokpa and Flomolo. Pokpa was the big brother to Flomolo. Pokpa was much closer to his father while his brother Flomolo was closer to his mother. Pokpa’s father trained him how to work like a man, so that when he died, Pokpa would survive on his strength and hard work. But Flomolo was trained by his mother, and grew up lazy and unable to work for himself.After many years, the parents of the brothers died. By now the both boys were grown up men. Pokpa worked so hard and was well established and married, but his brother was very lazy and thus, poor. One day Pokpa decided to desert his brother for his laziness. “I prefer welcoming my friends on my dinner table than my lazy brother,” he said. He finally drove away his brother who had been staying with him since the death of their parents.One Christmas morning he invited his three wealthy friends, Mulbah, Lepolu and Najuah. Form that day Pokpa was always in the company of his friends and left his brother starving with hunger. One evening while Pokpa and his wife were eating their new rice with palm oil, she asked, “Can you call your brother to share this dinner with us since he his not too far from us?”“Gormah,” Pokpa said to his wife, “If only you repeat what you just said, you will follow him.”The woman discontinued the conversation and they continued their eating.However, Gormah, Pokpa’s wife loved Flomolo; she decided to secretly send food to him as often as she could. One afternoon while Pokpa was in the field working, Gormah decided to teach him a lesson to love and appreciate his brother. That afternoon when Pokpa came home, he met Gormah lying on the ground crying with a great regret.“What happened to you?” He asked.“When I was cooking your food,” she explained in tears, “one crazy man came and took the pot from the fire and ran with it. I managed to pursue him with a big stick unfortunately for him I hit him hard and he dropped dead.”Pokpa was very furious when he heard this. He asked, “Where is the body?”“It is lying in the kitchen wrapped in the old mat,” Gormah said.When he saw the body, he did not care to open it, but how to bury it. Thinking on whom to go for help to bury the crazy man at midnight, his wife suggested that he asked his three friends for their help. He accepted his wife suggestion and decided to go to his friends so that they would help him with the burial.Pokpa proceeded to the home of his first friend, Mulbah. After he explained what had happened, his friend told him he couldn’t help because his wife was sick that night. Pokpa moved on to his others friends’ homes and they also gave him excuses. Pokpa was so frustrated by his three friends who he was so sure he could depend on in such desperation.When he got home, his wife suggested again that he should go ask his brother to help him bury the man. “My brother?” Pokpa asked. He held his head in his hand wondering whether it would really work since he had mistreated his brother many years ago. “I don’t think my brother will forgive me to come and help me,” he said.“Just try and see,” Gormah urged. Pokpa went to his brother that night. When Flomolo heard him knocking at the door, he was glad and happy to see his brother coming to his home for the first time after many years. Coming out to meet his brother, Flomolo asked, “What brought you to my poor home at this time of the night?”“Our people say, if you see the toad in the day, if it is not running behind something, then something is running behind it.” Pokpa explained everything to his brother who, without any hesitation got prepared to help his brother Pokpa to bury the crazy man. Flomolo told Pokpa that he is always his brother no matter what had happened.After the burial, the next morning, while Pokpa was washing his face, two messengers form the town chief’s court came to him and his wife. “You are under arrest,” one of the messengers said.“For what?” Pokpa asked. “You will know when you get to the Chief’s court,” the men replied.When they got to the court, surprisingly Pokpa saw Mulbah, Lepolu and Najuah, his three wealthy friends, standing adjacent to the chief in the court.“Do you know these men?” the chief asked.“Yes” Pokpa replied.“According to these young men, your wife killed a crazy man and you went to them to help you bury the man, but they refused. Still you managed to bury the man along with your brother under the cotton tree. Therefore, you must go and dig the body out and bring it to my court now!”Pokpa, along with two messengers, went and dug out the body and brought it in the court.In the presence of everyone including Pokpa’s three friends, the chief asked him to untie the mat on the body. Pokpa untied the body and, to everyone’s surprise, there was a big log lying in the mat.“What is this!?” the chief screamed.To the amazement of everyone, Gormah, Pokpa’s wife stood up and confessed. “Chief, this was a trick planned by me, to prove to my husband that no one is like a brother. My husband trusted and loved his friends more than his own brother. But when this problem occurred, his very friends refused to help him and even deceived him. “Our Chief, I did not really kill anybody,” Gormah said.The chief ordered Pokpa’s three deceitful friends arrested and put them in jail and he set Pokpa and his wife free. From that day, Pokpa lived with his wife and brother happily in their town.Share this:Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)
Convicted drug mule Sarfraz Jalaladeenless than a day after Sarfraz Jalaladeen, 30, of Riverview, Ruimveldt, Georgetown, was busted at the Cheddi Jagan International Airport with almost 12 pounds of cocaine in milk powder packets, he was sentenced to serve four years in prison and fined $16.3 million.Jalaladeen made his court appearance on Friday at the Georgetown Magistrates’ Courts before Chief Magistrate,Ann Mc Lennon, where he pleaded guilty to the charge when it was read to him.Reports are that Jalaladeen, who is a welder, and was travelling for the first time to the United States via a Caribbean Airlines flight, was intercepted by members of the Customs Anti-Narcotics Unit (CANU) on Thursday evening when they became suspicious after noticing several packets of what appeared to be powdered milk in the man’s suitcases.A closer examination revealed that the milk packets were resealed and a further check was undertaken. It was then that the ranks realised that the contents of the packets were cocaine. He was arrested and taken to CANU headquarters where the illegal substance was weighed and proved to be just over 6kg.Jalaladeen provided a statement to CANU agents and was charged. He also provided additional information to the ranks as they continue their investigations.He reportedly told CANU ranks that he was promised US$7000 to traffic the illegal substance to New York but did not say if he is was paid an advance. Head of CANU, James Singh when contacted told Guyana Times that the drug enforcement unit will continue to hunt cocaine mules as the Anti-Narcotics Unit continued to crack down on the trafficking of narcotics.Singh noted that they have beefed up their operations at the two main ports of entry and it has been yielding results.
Save the Children International (SCI) over the weekend dedicated eight classrooms in Kakata, Margibi County —All Girls School constructed at the cost of US$120,000.The dedicatory ceremony coincided with the closing of the school, which brought together the County Chief Education Officer, Gormah Minnie and the Assistant Education Minister for Early Childhood Education (ECD), Youkhiko Ammon as well several other executives of SCI’s staff, among others.The school was funded by Hope for Africa (HfA) and implemented by SCI, the education coordinator, B. Augustine Kullie said.Mr. Kullie said the systemic poverty across Africa has resulted in generations of people facing the same problems of poor education, few employment opportunities, sickness and disease, poor water and sanitation, etc.He said 2008 marked the launch of Hope for Africa’s sponsorship academy, which sponsored students from primary schools, focusing on girls’ ages from two to 18.He explained that the project was founded in South Korea through donor support as well as soliciting public assistance by highlighting the plight of children through the national broadcast system in Seoul, South Korea.In Liberia, Mr. Kullie said, Hope for Africa’s (HfA) intervention focuses in Montserrado, Margibi and Bong counties with the goal to improve the access and quality of education for children, especially girls in collaboration with its strategic partner, Ministry of Education (MOE). HfA is an international Christian Charity, set up in 2004. It has a clear mandate to bring hope and empower people in Africa – and put an end to systemic poverty.According to Kullie, the hope comes in the form of food to eat, safe drinking water, help for families infected and affected by HIV/AIDS or by empowering people to set up small businesses and or go to school at least at the primary level.“Our aim is to impact one life at a time with a long-term vision and to diversify the charity across Africa,” he said.The dedication of the school, he said will enable the students to enjoy a brighter future and better employment opportunities as they will be able to attend top class secondary schools.Before the dedication, it was discovered that four sets of new commodes in the bathrooms were missing; a situation Mr. Kullie and his staff described as “unfortunate.” Save the Children is the world’s leading independent organization for children that works in 120 countries. It fights for the rights of children as well as helps them fulfill their potential in life“We work to inspire breakthroughs in the way the world treats children and to achieve immediate and lasting change in their lives,” Kullie said.Earlier, the guest speaker, Youkhiko Ammon expressed gratitude to SCI for catering to the welfare of the girls, especially the vulnerable ones by enrolling them in the school “free of charge.”As a result of that effort, she called on parents to encourage their children to focus their attention on their lessons in order to succeed. The All Girls Schools is located in the Du-Village Community in Kakata, and is run under the auspices of SCI that has provided instructional materials. The registrar, Ms Agnes S. Tamba, in her progress report said, amidst numerous changes in the re-opening dates of schools this year, due to the Ebola outbreak, the school opened for academic activities on March 2.During the registration, she said the total number of students registered from the Early Childhood Curriculum (ECCD) Development to grade 4th was 311—ages two to 18 years.“The Save the Children All-Girls Elementary School comprises the Parents Teachers Association, and the teaching staff that give strength to the running of the school. The school also provides environmental studies to students to spread and prevent HIV/AIDS, Ebola and teenage pregnancy,” Ms Tamba explained.She said in order for the Save the Children All Girls Elementary School to maintain quality standard, it will rely on certain basic rules and regulations, which are necessary to uplift the country’s education system.As such, she said, the institution has made it the prime duty for both teachers and administrators not to impart book knowledge only, but to make them law-abiding and to become productive citizens.The school is run with the objective of training students spiritually, morally and educationally; to enable them contribute immensely to the overall development of their respective communities; to make them aware of their abilities so as to enable them make proper adjustment in life challenges and to include sporting activities.Constrains/ChallengesAccording to Ms Tamba, while the administration appreciates Hope for Africa and the Government of Liberia for the “free and compulsory education policy, which has increased enrollment, especially the girls, the All Girls School lacks support staff, tools to clean the campus, suck like wipers, cutlasses, hoes, etc.” She also mentioned the need for safe drinking water, security guards, at least three to four persons.Share this:Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)
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The Bangladeshi agro-based organization, BRAC-Liberia, has concluded a week long Early Childhood Development (ECD) workshop for 100 teachers and ten caregivers from ten selected communities at the St. Martin Catholic Pastoral Center from January 23-27 in Gbarnga, Bong County.Project Manager for the program Benedict Sekey said his organization implemented the ECD Project for the United Nations Children Education Fund (UNICEF) to test new intervention approaches to early childhood development in Bong, Grand Bassa and Grand Gedeh counties.Mr. Sekey said BRAC is a development organization dedicated to the alleviation of poverty by empowering the poor to realize their potential and bring about positive change in their lives.“Our approach, therefore, is comprehensive with services in areas of education, health care, social and economic empowerment, finance and enterprise development, human rights and legal aid, agriculture and food security, as well as environmental sustainability and disaster preparedness,” Mr. Sekey explained.He said BRAC-Liberia has launched successful programs in microfinance, health, agriculture, livestock and poultry, reaching over 640,490 of the poorest Liberians.Mr. Sekey said BRAC-Liberia will develop community based early childhood development centers in the above listed counties to recruit children between the ages of 3 to 5 to prepare them for primary education, as his organization shifts from the old to contemporary ECD approach. He narrated that BRAC-Liberia will work in ten communities in each county, targeting 300 children per community, and that the selection will be done by community residents alongside County Education Officers and District Education Officers.Mr. Sekey further said the objective of the exercise is to see how impactful BRAC-Liberia can be preparing the children for primary school while encouraging their parents to be major players in their children’s education.He said at the end of the pilot project, he anticipates parental involvement in ECD to change from one level to another, for an increase in community stakeholder involvement, and the development of a new teaching methodology.He said a similar training took place in Grand Bassa County a week ago and another is taking place in Zwedru, Grand Gedeh County.The ECD BRAC-Liberia Project Manager disclosed that his organization also distributed copy books, pencils and other school supplies to the selected communities in the three counties.Assistant Minister in the Bureau of Early Childhood Development at the Ministry of Education, Mrs. Florence Allen Jones, lauded BRAC-Liberia for organizing the training.Madam Jones said in the recent past, it was common for children older than six to be enrolled as beginners, which is no longer the case, and commended BRAC-Liberia and UNICEF for the initiative and funding, respectively.For their part, participants at the workshop also thanked the two organizations, and the Ministry of Education for the training.Share this:Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)
FDA Managing Director Darlington Tuagben (L) and EU Head of Delegation, Amb. Intelmann The Voluntary Partnership Agreement (VPA) will today turn over a building that has been reconditioned in Buchanan, Grand Bassa County for use by the Forestry Development Authority (FDA).The building was initially built by the Liberian government in 1981 and was one of the four structures that previously housed the FDA’s offices in Buchanan, a press statement issued in Monrovia yesterday by the public relations department of the FDA said.To further strengthen the FDA’s law enforcement capacity at the national level, the VPA will provide forest and logistical equipment which include motorbikes, laptops and printers, GPS units, uniforms and cameras for use by the FDA’s regional office.The reconditioning of the building and procurement of the equipment and materials were funded by the EU and the United Kingdom Department for International Development (UKaid/DFID).The refurbishment of the office and the donation of the materials mark the start of a sustainable forest management pilot project that was initiated to enhance law enforcement in the forestry sector through its governance capacity building efforts in Liberia, with the FDA and Ministry of Justice as major players, according to the statement.“Given that about 80 percent of 190 to 199 cubic meters (of forest products) exported from Liberia in 2016 was handled through the port of Buchanan, VPA and FDA agreed on the need to strengthen FDA’s operations in district offices in FDA Region 3 covering Grand Bassa, Nimba and Rivercess counties,” the statement said.It added that the three companies operating in FDA Region 3 are the Forest Management Contract (FMC B) owned and operated by E J & J Investment Corporation; Forest Management Contract (FMC/C), owned and operated by Liberia Tree & Trading; and Forest Management Contract (FMC/K), owned and operated by International Consultant Capital (ICC).The VPA statement pointed out that these companies channel their logs through the port of Buchanan.FDA Managing Director, Darlington TuagbenToday’s ceremony in Buchanan will be led by the Liberian Government represented by the FDA managing director, Darlington S. Tuagben; Charge d’affaires, Mrs. Emma Sundblad of the EU delegation and British Ambassador, David Belgrove.The EU, the statement said, acknowledges the continued engagement with the Liberian government through the FDA and VPA processes from the civil society community and private sector in the country.It named those actors as the VPA National Multi-stakeholder Monitoring Committee, which comprises the NGO Coalition of Liberia, Liberia Timber Association, National Union of Community Forestry Development Committee, the Environmental Protection Agency, Ministry of Labor and the Liberia Revenue Authority.The EU and Liberian Government signed the VPA, which has been extended to a number of countries with the aim of assuring the legality of timber exported to EU countries.Liberia has decided to go one step further by applying the VPA principles to all timber exported from Liberia to countries outside of the EU.“Only through legality can we ensure that forests are sustainably managed and communities get their fair share of benefits from their forest resources. And the VPA process would support the whole country through the collection of taxes, thus creating wealth and jobs,” the statement concluded.Share this:Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)
(L-R) Carlos Williams, Didier Sossa and John Jaysay (Photo Credit: BYC)As BYC signs additional players There will be intriguing competition among Barrack Young Controllers players in the upcoming season after the team on Tuesday signed three additional players in continuation of their bid to build up the team for the 2017/2018 Liberian Football Association First Division Championship.Following several weeks of negotiations with clubs, the ‘Go Blue Boys’ announced the signing of the three new players that include Benin international defender Didier Sossa and defensive midfielder John Jaysay, both from FC Fassel, and left back Carlos Williams from Watanga FC.Center-back Sossa, defensive-midfielder Jaysay, and left-back Williams all penned a two-year deal with their new club for an undisclosed fee.The trio, who played momentous roles in their former clubs’ last season campaigns, expressed delight over their new move and promised to play to the best of their abilities to help the team win trophies.“I had a great season last year and it was because the coach motivated us. Coach Lartey will do the same for me, which is the reason I made the decision to sign for BYC. My goal is to defend BYC and make our fans happy,” John Jaysay said.Jaysay, 18, made his debut for the National Team after he was named in James Debbah’s lineup against Sierra Leone in an international friendly, and has so far made four appearances for Liberia. For center-back Sossa, he featured for the Soccer Missionaries – Fassel, over the years and made strikers find it difficult to beat him in the air.The 24-year-old player’s manager, Sardy Browne, was also excited to see his player joining one of Liberia’s top clubs.Signed to replace former left-back Hilton Varney, Williams said his new move is a challenge and an opportunity for him to book a starting position in the national team.This brings to eight the number of new players signed by the ‘Go Blue Boys.’ BYC had earlier signed promising right-back Jeremy Saygbe, goalkeeper Alpha Jalloh from Fassel FC, central back Eugene Swen from Keitrace FC, goalkeeper Abdulai Koulibaly from Monrovia Club Breweries and Fallah Sherriff on a free transfer from LISCR FC.Share this:Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)
Cervical Cancer Awareness Month…introduces the Brachytherapy procedureBy Lakhram BhagiratThe Cancer Institute of Guyana announced that it would be offering free Pap Smear screening for the month of January in commemoration of Cervical Cancer Awareness Month.The Institute is urging all women to come forward and take full advantage of the free screening since early detection of cervical cancer means a higher chance of survival.Dr Syed Mujahid Ghazi and Dr Sayan Chakraborty standing next to the Brachytherapy machineThe Cancer Institute’s Outreach Director, Dr Syed Ghazi at a press conference on Tuesday said that cervical cancer was the second most common cancer in women in Guyana, and noted that it was often detected too late. He adds that the Institute screens over 1000 women per year for cervical cancer.Dr Ghazi informed that Cervical Cancer is now at endemic proportions in the Caribbean and Guyana, but noted that the Cancer Institute continued to work with its Caribbean partners with the aim of eliminating cervical cancer by 2025.“From the beginning what I noticed, I saw women coming in later stages and we couldn’t have been able to do anything, but slowly and gradually now we see less and less numbers of those with higher stages of cancer and we now see people walking in to come for screenings,” he noted.“A lot of times these patients’ signs and symptoms are not taken seriously by general physicians. Many times, they cannot comprehend what the symptom is leading to and many times the delay happens when the women go from one doctor to another and those are the cases where we get later stages of cancer,” Dr Ghazi added.Meanwhile, the Institute’s Medical Director and Oncologist, Dr Sayan Chakraborthy, noted that he would endorse the Pap Smear over VIA for testing for cervical cancer.“The basic difference between VIA and Pap Smear is that in VIA we are actually putting some acetic acid on the cervix and noting the colour change of the cervix. It is an effective process of screening and it is used in a lot of places in many countries. Now what Pap Smear does is it actually takes scrapings of the cervix and vagina, putting it on a slide and seeing it under a microscope,” he said.“Pap Smear is more specific in finding precancerous or cancerous lesions. We are actually seeing it under a microscope and having a better knowledge of it,” Dr Chakraborthy added.He advised that if women were seeing abnormal discharge and pain or bleeding after sexual intercourse, they must immediately seek attention since these were some of the signs of cervical cancer.The Pap Smear is done seven days after you would have seen your period and one must abstain from sexual intercourse three days before the appointment.Stop self-treatingDr Ghazi used the opportunity to warn against relying on herbal medicine to cure various forms of cancer. He added that he has nothing against the herbal treatments along with spiritual approaches, but noted that relatives should not advise patients to abandon the conventional medication and treatment.“When they come to us after six months or five months, they are at a higher stage where they cannot come back and we see it every year. Every year, I lose three or four women. I am telling you, last year I lost three of my breast cancer patients because they were distracted from the treatment,” Dr Ghazi noted.He said that millions of dollars have been spent on research and development of the conventional treatments and urged patients to ignore those who warn them that chemotherapy and radiation therapy would kill or burn them.“I beg people, I request of people if you want to advise somebody, advise them you can use them together with the treatment. You can add it but for God’s sake don’t tell people don’t do the treatment,” he added.Brachytherapy treatmentThe Cancer Institute has since boosted its cervical treatment services with the procurement of a Brachytherapy machine aimed at significantly reducing the instances of remission. The machine was procured almost five months ago and has been operating with favourable responses ever since.The treatment of cervical cancer comes in three stages and includes chemotherapy, external radiation and internal radiation.The Cancer Institute’s Medical Director, Dr Chakraborthy, said that with the acquisition of the Brachytherapy machine, Guyana was now on par with international treatment specifications. He noted that the machine was not only for the treatment of cervical cancer, but can be used for a variety of other cancers’ treatment, adding that the primary focus for now was the treatment of cervical cancer.“With this particular new machine we can pinpoint our treatment to the tumour and the tumour alone providing safety to the surrounding structures. We have introduced this; we have rolled it off and we have started the treatment,” he said.Brachytherapy or internal radiation is the final part of cervical treatment. The Brachytherapy machine is fully computerised.Dr Chakraborthy added that since the installation of the machine, they have conducted over 50 applications on over 22 patients and were seeing favourable results.“I did a study from March 2013 to March 2015 on 100 patients of cancer where we did not have the Brachytherapy procedure, but the other modalities and unfortunately, we found that about 35 per cent of the patients came back with the cancer even after having the complete treatment with the other modalities,” he noted.Dr Chakraborthy said that this number should decrease with the new treatment method.Cervical cancer is the second most common cancer in women, and is caused by the Human Papillomavirus (HPV). If detected early, it can be treated and completely eliminated.