Last week GEPAN conducted an outreach at the Enterprise Secondary School located on the East Coast Demerara, with the help of local youth leader and Facebook Developer, Samantha Sheoprashad. As part of our year-round SEC initiative, we used the opportunity to distribute 40 book bags with stationery to a class of third form students, as well as 20 for lower primary school children. Ten scientific calculators were also donated to the school to help students who do not possess their own. The Enterprise Secondary School has been a landmark in the community for more than fifty years, with a current enrolment of approximately eight hundred.
During our visit we learnt about some of the challenges students and teachers are faced with. Poverty, alcoholism and domestic violence are significant setbacks in the community, ultimately affecting students who attend the school. A chat with Headmistress Marcia Harris revealed that some students go to school without breakfast, and would rely on leftovers from the school-feeding programme available for younger children. Due to poverty, some parents cannot afford to send their children to school every day, resulting in frequent absences which in turn have an impact on progress and performance. Another issue linked to poverty that teachers have to deal with is teenaged girls who cannot afford to procure female hygiene products. Like others in the country, the school does not have the resources to cater to the needs of students.
Alcoholism, domestic violence and child abuse are reportedly prevalent in the community. The impact on children’s emotional health can be longlasting. Both Mrs Harris and Ms Sheoprashard explained that psychosocial counselling is necessary to help teenagers who have to cope with the negative emotions they experience as a result of their violent environment. On her own, Ms Sheoprashad would conduct quarterly workshops on different thematic, including mental health, career paths and digital literacy.
During our chat with the class of third formers, we briefly broached the question of gender, and the responses we obtained indicated that, while some boys may have a traditional perception of gender roles, others did not. Asked what they aspired to become when they grow up, we received answers such as “soldier”, “policewoman”, “Korean translator” and “doctor” from among the girls. The answers may be an indicator that younger generations are widening their prospects beyond those of traditional and conservative roles usually believed to be best for women.
GEPAN is currently running a donations campaign to collect female hygiene products for women and girls. Among the items we’re collecting are sanitary napkins and tampons. We are also soliciting personal hygiene products for both boys and girls, such as deoderants. If you or anyone you know would like to donate (preferably in kind) to this initiative, please contact us via our website, our Facebook page, our email @ email@example.com, or message us at +592 693 6731.
Remember, the smallest act of kindness can have the greatest impact!