Thursday, March 23, 2006


Something haunting me, can’t get it out o’ my head.

On Saturday afternoon, my mamu (mother brother) from England and he wife treat to lunch 80 children and they parents.

These children belong in a sponsorship programme for poor Muslim mamu and he wife does sponsor a little girl through the Islamic organisation. Some o’ these children so poor, if you see what they live in...

Me and me mother went to the treat, not for the lunch, but because my mamu ask we to be there.

Was in a quiet place, a huge space, almost open air, no walls but a roof, so we enjoy breeze and sky and palm trees in cool shelter. On one side is a big play field, and on the other side is the grand new mint-green building. It hold a school from kindergarten up, offices for the Islamic organisation, rooms, bathrooms.

Me, my mother, two relatives, sit just behind the last table.

At the table was a boy, a little over a year old, and he 3-year-old sister and they mother. They live up the East Coast, not far from the village where bandits hide out. The mother say when them bandits been on a rampage a few years ago, all them villagers was terrified out o’ they skin.

I rest me hand on the back of the li’l girl chair. She brush me hand away. We had a small power-struggle for that chair back then we become friends. I admire she icing-sugar-pink Indian outfit...bias-cut hem, if you please. She tiny, tiny; she got a rosebud mouth, pink, round cheeks, and big, dark eyes shining with intelligence.

She mother say she quite aggressive, she does boss she li’l brother about, and she got a answer for everything; but in school, she well behaved and bright.

I, foot in mouth, ask the li’l chile where she daddy was. She look like she searching. I ask again. She search.

I get a strange vibe from she mother, sort of like stiff silence. Then she mother say that they father die last year February. That was during the big flood.

I ask if he die ‘cause of the flood. She say yes. He was an ambulance driver, he had a cut on he foot...he went into the water...leptospirosis. The little boy, the mother say, is quiet, just like he daddy used to be.

The mother and she children now live with she mother-in-law or mother, I don't remember who.

“You work?” I ask she.

She say, no, ‘just house work', and she sister-in-law does sponsor the li’l girl to help pay for schooling. The mother get a small donation every month too from the Islamic organisation.

Something seep into me thoughts.

I look up, around me, at the children and they mothers.

No fathers.

Only widows and children. Or wives who husband walk out on them.

How many o’ these women work, I sit there wondering.

So many women, waiting quiet, quiet, for donations. How many got a skill? I wonder if they only aim in life as young girls was to marry, have children. Nobody teach them more. Nobody ever tell them that they husband might leave...either die or walk away.

I know, I know, is not just women here...women who parents never push education too strong, only groom them to be wife, mother, never give them dreams that they can be wife, mother AND more...


Steiner62 said...

Gurl, now that you are connecting to da World you gotta take this oppertunitee to furher yourself, & ure education. Break that mould you so well decribed in this piece. You are a real writer now girl. You already got a happy, supportive & admiring audience!

Use this to get to College, study writing - get better girl!

Then pretty soon we'll be seein' ya on CNN as well!

Take Care Guyana Girl

Hayden said...

it starts with dreams, with knowing it is possible.

I was 19 and it was 1970 when I met my first role model. She was a professor - married at 16 and started having babies. Somehow she decided at 30 to leave, to divorce, to take her 3 young ones and get herself a full scholarship w/ board in the US. (She was Canadian). Meeting her, I learned anything was possible if you have enough grit and determination.

Even here, in the US in those days - if you didn't live on a coast, there weren't any examples to look to beyond marriage, babies, factory work.

Yes, there was work. Factory work, but work all the same.

Radmila said...

Many women use children as a hidden excuse to not be able to work towards making life better for themselves.
Many women don't know any better.
Having babies young is an excellent way to not have to think about what you're going to do with your life.
I'm not being simplistic when I say this..and there is no effective way to show this to young women who are poor, and un/under educated.
It's a sad commentary on how women are held back, not only by society, but by themselves.
Looking to a man to make your life worth something has never really worked out well.
I'm a firm believer in later parenting for women, and working (outside of the home) mothers.
Setting an example of self-sufficiency is the biggest gift a woman can give her child.

cadiz12 said...

hopefully with role models like you those little girls can get an idea of what they might one day become.

DaveM said...

Whats the old saying "educate the mother and you educate the children"

Children need [and like] good role models and if you have children then by nature of being a parent you automatical have that role.

samay said...

so see women and childrem like them everywhere - and sometimes its not the money factor - but the mould that they have been brought up with, that is hard to break..

Stunner said...

Thats a sad situation.

cream said...

It is sooooo sad!
It is such a vicious circle!
With all the will in the world some people can never get themselves out of the poverty trap.
It is against all odds that a few make it and those are the ones who usually are the role models.
It is a shame that in many countries it's still a man's world and women are left to fend for their offspring.

Guyana-Gyal said...

It really is still a man's world, isn't it, Cream? I read in the news that Spain will pass a law that men must help in the home.

Women without lives, Stunner.

True, Samay, it's not money...loads of middle class / wealthy women live aimlessly.

Davem, my father used to say, make sure you get a good education; nobody can take that away from you.

Lots of role models about Cadiz, but…

Hello Radmilla, welcome. You're so right, women hold back; very interesting thoughts you have here, I want to send your comment to our media, hope they’ll share.

Hayden, you've had quite an interesting life, haven't you? And look how far you've come.

Thanks for your encouraging words, Steiner. This post wasn't about me thought. Truth is, I come from a family of very educated women, and many have done well. I myself have a uni. degree. CNN? Naaah :-)

Scratchie said...

I think a lot of the time those of us who are not as badly off as others have to come face to face with the other realities in life besides our own. It's an eye opener and leaves much food for thought. Where am I?, Why am I here? Can I be better?, Am I using the things I have been given to the best of my abilities?.......

Radmila said...

Hello gg, I've been reading your blog for a bit now and really love the stories...I just wanted to say a little something to steiner:
I found your comment to be somewhat condescending.
If any of your time had been spent reading even a few entries of this blog you would have made the deduction that gg is not one of the women in her story yourself.
The irony of your shoddy grammar and IM spelling while sending this message about education was not lost on me, or I'm sure gg, who has certainly shown more class than I by not pointing out how asinine your comment reads.

R2K said...

80 people! Thats a ton!


bunnyjo georg said...

How different it is here in the States where a girl who grows up wanting to be "just" a wife and mother is denigraded by our society as being ambitionless - maybe even lazy. Less than other women. Even for those that long only to be wives and mothers, prudence dictates they become corporate executives, copywrite editors, secretaries, saleswomen first and last with mothering sandwiched in the little spaces left over after all the work responsibilities are taken care of. What a luxury to be "just" a wife and mother.

Ale said...

i agree with bunnyjo- here in the states its "uncool" to be only wife and mother (desperate housewives...)

i think the key is having this complete balance- wife, mother AND more... (as you say in the last sentence) this balance is really hard to figure out,

maybe where women fight for that "more..." part, and here in the states we fight for the "wife and mother" part, but in the end we're all fighting to achieve this balance-

and its so important to teach the kids right, so maybe they can figure out how to achieve it.

bunnyjo georg said...

Thanks, Ale, I thought I was going to be a lone voice crying in the wilderness on this one. The hardest part for me as a single, divorced mom is that the "more..." part is often squelched by the hefty weight of all my other responsibilities, i.e. kids, job, house and car to maintain. I guess in a lot of respects, writing for the newspaper and blogging is my "more..." but it's barely squeezed in there. Quite, quite tight.

Zoomfreaky said...

Hi GG,

Well done, you seem to have sturred some emotions with this entry. Got something to say about it myself.

I think woman have to be able to fend for themselves and to be able to have a life beyond the family. It's never wise to be to depend on somebody or someone. But I don't think that it's easy.

If you are a single mother or a mother with husband/boy-/girlfriend, when you work, you've got two jobs (at least). Because taking care of the household and kids stills seems to be resting on our shoulders and not so much on our (male) partners. It's like you're a mother, you want to work, well you spread your own bed, now ly in it.

I can get very angry when some people in 'Holland' say things like, those single/ divorced women who have 3 kids and only get money from the dare they, they must get themselves a job. But until someone does anything about the waiting-list and the enormous expenses on daycare... well I can't blame them. If you go to work and you have less money to spend then if you stay at home...well be my guest. State money is not much to begin with, don't think people choose it by will and dream of a luxurious life.

Sorry if I'm ranting, but this is a sore subject for me. Got a lot of friends with kids and I see them struggling to keep their heads afloat. Having almost no time for themselves, only work, (relationship) and kids...not good. There must me a way to keep all things in balance. No time for yourself is not good for you or the kids.

My mum always worked part-time and I had a good life, with the balance of having a mum to talk to besides dinner and breakfast. And herself being able to have a life beside me and making friends and earning her own money. But we never had much money and sometimes I could see that it hurt her a lot that she couldn't give me what she wanted to. I never minded, but still...

Zoomfreaky said...

Sorry GG, that was a bit longer a comment then I planned to.

Lucia said...

Sad story... sometimes I think they sould be given culture and information even before food or shelter... then, by learning how to survive, how to work and maybe how to dream, they'd be able to get (almost) everything else. but it's a complicated thing... Who's interested about giving them any culture?? complicated...

visit me anytime:
(page is in portuguese, but no problem to leave a comment!)

have a nice weekend!

PI said...

I knew you had a degree honey - better than me!
You also have a bright, shining talent and if there is any justice in the world it will be nurtured.

Guyana-Gyal said...

Thanks Pat, that was lovely xx.

Hi Lucia, welcome again. I've been planning to visit your blog for a long time, yours and others. I think most of the women I saw on Sat. are lacking in self esteem, I think that's what they need, self esteem and jobs.

Rant on Zoom, I wanted to hear what it is like for women in developed countries. Especially where there's welfare. If you have more to say, please say.

Bunnyjo, Ale, I agree that being a wife and mother should not be denigrated. But I still think a woman should strive to be more, develop herself as an individual.

Sadly, in my country there are too many women with 5, 6, 7 children they can’t afford to take care of. If the husband dies or goes away...which we see here often…who will provide? We don't have welfare.

Also we have many women who can't teach their children much. It's left up to our schools to teach everything, even basic manners. There are women who can’t even help their children with homework.

I must say...because my mum is so well educated she was able to help my father run the family business. And she taught new widows to do simple things…banking, taxes, sell property, write a letter.

When you encounter real poverty, you get to see firsthand how thrilled a woman [married with children] is when she earns some $$ all by herself. You should see the way her face lights up, how she plans, and has goals.

Alex, when you convert Brit. pounds to Guyana dollars...ahhh, you can afford to feed the multitude :-)

Thanks Radmilla, for reading. I'll check out your blog, tomorrow, Saturday, blog reading day. Yay. I think Steiner was trying to write Guyanese-Creolese. Don't worry, I wasn't offended in the least :-)

Scratchie, I love this: "Can I be better? Am I using the things I have been given to the best of my abilities?" I think that's what being wife, mother and more means.

I'd love to hear more men's opinion on this.

Aunty Marianne said...

We use collectives. Especially in gender-sensitive countries, this gets women out into a female-run environment. They are taught a skill such as tailoring or soapmaking and share equipment and raw materials. The products initially are pumped back into the project (blankets, clothes) and then the collectives are encouraged to tender for work with local contractors. They profit-share and invest in new equipment and training and eventually expand.

It seems to work very well as long as the husbands don't get involved in the cash side of things.

bakannal time said...

Hey GG your post strummed a chord within me but I had to think long and hard before responding. Women’s dependency on men, especially in societies like ours, are holdovers from the days when it was generally thought that a woman’s place is in the home, the man is the breadwinner etc etc. of course there were exceptions even in days gone by, but I think the greatest contributor to perpetual dependency is poverty. I know…not very original thinking. But like some of the contributors have highlighted education is the key to so much more. Even though I came from a virtual single parent family that wasn’t exactly rolling in mullah, my mother always promoted education as the greatest thing we could possess in life. A good thing too, cuz I have six sisters. However, despite the progress women have made, this cycle of dependency will remain for the poor will always be with us.

bakannal time said...

lol @ steiner.

kfm said...

its true, Guyana Gyal is very educated, bright and talented, and not to mention..cute too..heheh...we were fortunate to have parents who knew the value of a good education...and we do have a lot of highly educated women in our family...teachers, doctors, lawyers, nurses, writers... to name a few
I dont have any girls, but if I should, I will make sure she is just as educated as my boys (future soccer/football players, doctor, astronaut, golfer and recently added...a sports doctor)..and I am sure the list will continue..

kfm said...

I forgot to mention this, the men at my work place dont want their wives to work, they say it is their place to take home the bacon, not matter how much they are stuggling...their wives are at home, one said his wife is too depressed to work, she is missing her family, another said that he prefers for her to be at home to take care of the one of their son just got a girl pregnant..he is 16, she is 15..the solution, he came to work for us as a laborer...and the list goes on as to why these wives should work..makes me mad, cause these women need to get off their backsides and stop asking the govt to supplement their income...

Ancient Clown said...

Hi All:
Love your stories, as always GG. Adding my two cents worth, I would remind people:
"WISDOM": is not the accumulation of knowledge, but rather the proper application of knowledge.

Things get blamed on poverty and lack of education but that's only so we don't look any deeper.
Poverty and Lack of education are created by and enforced by man.
The real problem within the education system is that they don't teach you 'how-to-learn' they teach you 'what-to-know'. Subsequently, as what we know is always changing, we are always falling behind.
If anyone's interested in what I would teach you:

Here you can learn how to take simple wire(copper or otherwise) and turn it into a priceless work of 'TREE ART'...and then teach others the same branching out the knowledge.

Here is where I rewrote the BIBLE.

Here I examine life's meaning in the story of CAIN & ABEL.

Sorry for taking up so much space GG, but I do feel this is important enough to share.
your humble servant,
Ancient Clown

Anonymous said...

Interesting wording and grammar. I spent a little time trying to figure out whether you were a non-native english speaker or a native speaker with an assumed "foreign"ish accent.

So I tracked back to your earlier posts. The grammatical posts about a year ago is much less structured and much more haphazard. It seems that somewhere half way through your blogging you finally settled on a grammatical template you'd use.

I figure you for a very grammatically conscious writer (spelling also), who is consciously making the blog sound foreign.


Guyana-Gyal said...

Hello Anonymous, all this time I thought I was writing Creolese the way I talk here. I didn't know I was talking in a haphazard, loose structure when I chat with folks here :-)

There are all sorts of Creolese, there's the kind mixed up with English, there's the very 'raw' kind...the great thing about it, I can write in any style, according to my mood.

But I have to be conscious of HOW I write though 'cause if I were to write, "me nah kay, me go do am how me want fuh do am" would you understand? LOL

Thanks Ancient, for reminding me to check out that wire tree, I will one day.

KFM, I didn't know that about those men in your office. Start lecturing dem bahind, maybe it gon sink in. Is what you praising me up so much for? Is something you want, I just know that LOL.

Bakannal, like how you're in the media, how about if you suggested to your boss that they use the media to educate women, start a section to teach? What you think?

Marianne, have you heard of the Rupununi Weavers? A group of Amerindian women doing what you say. I can't think of any other group doing that here. Yeh, once the husbands get involved...oh boy!
How do they women 'profit share' without falling out?

Katy Newton said...

Maybe things will be better for the little girls than they were for their mothers.

Aunty Marianne said...

Generally by agreeing to re-invest, micro-loaning to others, and using any funds to educate the next deserving child etc.

Women work by consensus, given half the chance. Half a chance is all they need.

kfm said...

hehe...see meh teeelll yuh dem pickney dis tek afta yuh..dem al ways ah praise me yah..den mah axe dem..ah wah ayuh want? mah wait yah fuh sumbady com ya an sit fee rarse tiyad

eh-eh, but wait is wha happin to ah ting ah battam hey? de ad blakah?

watersprite said...

Guyana this is the norm in most third-world countries. Women are always 'taught' to be dependent. First on their fathers and brother, later their husbands, then their sons.

Especially the Asian sub-continent. The common mindset is that even if you educate a girl, she will end up getting married, so whats the use. Most of my cousins have degrees under their belts, all married with kids, none of them work - couldnt even if they wanted to.

I thank God my parents dont have that outlook, especially with five girls.

Its sad - I hope somehow, somewhere we can make a difference even if it means just being a tiny pebble.

Sunrayz said...

lovely post...
btw,today's bbc radio 4 play was - 'a house for mr.biswas' by v.s.naipaul. all that carribean way of talking made me think of you :)

DCveR said...

Guess one of the things that helped Europe and the US out of the same situation was the high number of casualties in WWII and the need for women to work in the factories replacing the workers who had turned soldiers...

Mad Bull said...

Well, GG, I am glad you answered the yute Steiner just so. How he just assumed that you were in the same boat as those ladies I don't know. (* shakes head *)

There are women like this all over the world, right now, in the 21st century, can you believe it? We still have so far to go, yet so many people think that we reach already. (* shakes head again *)

Good post.

kfm said...

i read that book about 4 times..a house for Mr. Biswas...great

R2K said...

Life can be really hard.


bakannal time said...

it's certainly an idea i can pass to our production dept.

bunnyjo georg said...

GG, it is yin-yang. In America, women take for granted the right to become a fully-developed human being apart from being a wife/mother, but often feel spread too thin while juggling career and family, not to mention the torture of trying to throw a little personal development into the mix. Women in Guyana have no access to the opportunity and indeed, appear to not even consider it as an option but have the luxury of enjoying watching their children grow up first-hand, not just from the teacher at parent/teacher conferences. However, the lack of opportunity/cultural acceptance of a woman's need to develop skills outside of homemaking is an absolute tragedy, and not just for those women who lose their men. For American women, part of becoming that fully-developed woman also gives us skills that help us survive when our men walk away or die, but then we are spread even further. Yin and yang.

Ancient Clown said...

Hello All:

I'm not conspiracy minded...well overly anyway, but I'm making a desparete cry for HELP.
I don't know if anyone here has been following the Ancient Games: GOLD Medal Games for the Enlightened.
But this morning, in a flash Sri Lanka coming from out of nowhere to stand alone in 4th with 16.

Then suddenly, just as fast ALL the flags--disappeared--only now returning...without TEAM SRI LANKA.

Help me find "TEAM SRI LANKA". End the conspiracy to restict the Ancient Games and keep it an OPEN compitition.
Anyone sighting any of the members of TEAM SRI LANKA: please contact me at
your humble servant,
Ancient Clown

Caribbean Colors said...

How is it that some of the most incredible success stories come from people who have overcome terrible handicaps and circumstances? Its the age old question of nature vs. nurture.

thelmasmith said...

I like your use of dialect. I enjoy your stories. One think you missed in waiting - maybe because it's a thing that is not there in that place of sponsorship and continuation of a set cultural given - what is missing is a dream.

If you can somehow grab hold of each of those little girls and give them permission to dream it will change their lives.

I grew up raising my own children. I speak from experience. Dreams make you stubborn and tenacious.

So give dreams. they are much more important than lunch. thelma

larry h. said...

Most of my life, I've grown up amongst female go-getters. Most of my family felt that education meant opportunity and yes, options. I couldn't agree more, especially when you see what women have to put up with even in these developed worlds. In my house, that chauvinist sentiment stopped at the doorsteps. Killing the dreams in young girls' minds is only creating the next generation of social (and physical) victims. Sad that this stuff still happens in this information age.

Guyana-Gyal said...

Hello Thelmasmith, welcome and thank you.
Yes, I agree with you about people having dreams, that's why I said nobody 'never give them dreams that they can be wife, mother AND more...' Dreams and a good's what folks here are badly, badly in need of.

Anonymous said...

gyal, thanks so much for answering me. I can rant on, too. I found myself at 27 with three children, no father, no child support. Don't tell me about the first world. The welfare people offered me $4US more than the mortgage payment on my house and were going to put a lein on the house. I did not say ladylike things.

I did tell them quite colorfully what they could do with their control and spitefulness. I took their foodstamps because they were a USDA farmer's subsidy (what a big lie that one is); but they couldn't take my house out from under my children by me buying food stamps.

I don't remember who said give a woman half a chance. We need to remember how powerful we are. You are right that education is the way. I was lucky that two of my three were as stubborn as their mama and got good educations. My older son is a good, ethical, intelligent man who cannot cope with the society; he is an outcast who works everyday though he has no job.

We can not give up. Not on ourselves and not on even one of our sisters. thelma