March 18 will be the defining moment for Mia Ritchie-Comacho when voters go to the polls to elect a counselor in Constituency 9 whichencompasses Durban Backlands, Lodge Meadow Brook where the Guyanese-American hopes to win the seat in Local Government Election, which was not held for more than 20 years.
As an independent candidate who is supported by the APNU AFC Coalition she promises to develop a disciplined community and reinvigorate self-help groups to return pride to the community. Her empowerment and job opportunity initiatives are intended to enrich the lives of youth and the more than 200 squatters who are urging the government to develop their community.
Ritchie-Comacho, who is a youth development organizer, educator, and humanitarian, said many of the residents occupied the area after the disastrous floods of 2005 forced the citizens to move to the farming area.
Many said they were offered the opportunity to till the Burnham land at the request of then First Lady Viola Burnham who is now deceased, while others moved into the area and built shacks without permission from the government.
Four years ago when the qualified esthetician and nursing assistant returned to Guyana, she probably never envisioned the important role she would play in the development of this deprived area occupied for more than 10 years.
However, Ritchie-Comacho admits due to lack of infrastructure it would be no easy task to make the squatting area livable, since the residents would have be relocated to facilitate construction of roads, running water, and electricity.
She invited Mayor of Georgetown, Hamilton Green to address the concerns of the squatters. He assured them that the Central Housing and Planning Ministry would liaison with them to provide better living conditions for them and their family.
Ritchie-Comacho, a mother of five children Rhea, Georgia, Hill, Mekhi, and Breann, returned to her homeland to capitalize on the many opportunities she said are available. She has become quite popular within the Georgetown environ, galvanizing groups into action of self-help and community development through her facebook wall and causes she is passionate about such as youth empowerment.
With the catchy slogan, “Vote Love Care and Strength — Vote Mia Richie As Your Representative – One Love,” Ritchie-Comacho is focused on creating a healthy living environment for the youth, extra-curricula activities, a community center and an effective healthcare system. In addition, her plan is to pair the youth with the elderly for a disciplined upbringing.
The remigrant, who resided in New Jersey for 21 years, said she is a people’s-person and despite her family’s concern for her returning home, she said being able to join clean up campaigns working alongside the Georgetown City Council to return the habitat to its garden city status, and engaging the youth, set her alight with excitement to make a difference in her homeland.
Now assigned to the newsroom of the National Communications Network (NCN), Ritchie-Comacho flashes a welcoming smile and greets voters with enthusiasm along her campaign trail.
She is hopeful of winning the seat to carry on the work she is passionate about.