Lakeram Haynes

Lakeram Haynes

North Rupununi District Development Board
North Rupununi, Guyana

Outreach in the North Rupununi

Providing feedback to communities on the achievements of the COBRA Project

February 26, 2015

During the month of November the COBRA team travelled to the 16 communities of the North Rupununi to provide an update on the project and screen some of the many videos created over the course of the project and working with the communities of the Guiana Shield.

IMG_1841During the month of November, the COBRA team from the North Rupununi District Development Board (NRDDB) visited the sixteen villages and communities of the North Rupununi to conduct outreach meetings. As the project draws to a close it was important that the communities were brought up to date with COBRA activities and outcomes which were undertaken during the life of the project.

IMG_1842Communities were presented with summaries of the work undertaken and completed and the achievements of the project. They were also able to screen several videos produced by the project which highlights the best practices of their region, the Rupununi. Other videos gathered from the neighbouring countries that the local team worked with were also shared, which was interesting to the local communities as these videos also mirrored livelihoods and practices similar to theirs.

IMG_1839Upon realizing that the videos documented by COBRA project, which highlighted some of the best practices of the North Rupununi, the people were proud to be a part of the process, whether directly or indirectly. Knowing their practices made a difference in other countries it was felt that it was one way communities across the Guiana Shield region can assist and learn from each other. They were also proud of the fact that it was local members who were providing the training for these communities.

During these visits, the team expressed their desire to continue working with the communities in documenting challenges and solutions that their communities may have and would like to share with other communities. It was also mentioned that the skills acquired by the team would be put to good use that would benefit and help develop the North Rupununi Region.

IMG_1840This idea was fully supported by the communities and some individuals were willing to identify topics to document within their communities. They were curious as to when the team would be able to start such an exercise in their communities. Many thought it was important for local knowledge, language and traditional skills which are slowly disappearing were among topics that needed to be filmed. The people are keen in seeing modern technology be used to help them in a beneficial way. It was indicated that as part of their post project activities the team will be planning on how best to achieve these goals.

One villager expressed the view after the screens “why we wait till someone, especially a foreigner, comes to make us realize that we have a problem and we need to fix it. We know our problems and we can fix it and as it states in COBRA find our own solutions. So let’s do these things especially speaking of our language. I can’t speak my own language which is Arawak because that knowledge was not passed on by my parents.

Bryan Allicock of Kwatamang expressed how happy he was to be part of the meeting. He liked the approach and process used by the project and he noted that it can become a useful tool if used by the communities for their community development. Other community members from the various communities also opined that the approach of COBRA is very useful and it was a unique project which worked with an approach which is simple for local people to understand.  It was stated on many occasions that more of this approach should be used by more people when engaging with communities.  In using this approach we understand and would be more willing to work with others in the best interest of our communities.

The videos screened in the communities, it was suggested, should be distributed to the schools and be screened at public occasions for educational purposes. This way our children can learn and understand our practices and appreciate more who they are in this society. It was also felt more educational materials should be put into video format that can also be used in schools, focusing on a variety of topics important to the teaching of the children.

Despite the logistical challenges faced in getting to some communities the outreach could be judged as being successful both for the COBRA project and the communities based on the positive comments and feedback given about COBRA project and the work done by the communities involved.

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