Newly elected Mayor of Linden, Region 10, in Guyana, Carwyn Holland, thanked the Diaspora for their sustained remittances that he said have helped the small mining town on the Demerara River to survive over the last 23 years.
Just recently, the Guyanese politician braved the rainfall in Canarsie Park, Brooklyn to greet the Ituni International Association, at its Second Annual Family Fun day, under the theme: “Unity for Community,” which attracted citizens from the Linden neighboring town, to raise funds for educational projects.
Holland, a re-migrant for the last two years, who became the Mayor of Linden after 22 years, told Caribbean Life that the welcome he received from compatriots, made him feel at home, and assured them, that Linden is on a pathway to better days.
“We know, when the present government was in opposition, the wrath towards that government was mainly felt by Linden, a People’s National Congress (PNC) stronghold,” said Holland, adding that the town suffered when the Bauxite Company was non-functional.
The finest health services that were offered in the region back then, suffered, while the education system failed, leaving Linden to fight for survival, he said.
“Thanks to remittances, the Diaspora held Linden together. Currently, of the 40,000 people who qualify to work in Linden, only 10 percent are employed — the town is in dire need of jobs and support.”
“We would like the Diaspora to play an integral part in the development of linden. We need your knowledge, ability and Skills. I believe you could do a lot to help linden,” he told the Guyanese audience.
“There is a gap between Linden and true development,” said Mayor Holland who insists that the system of the past did not cater for future generations, “we want to turn that around.”
“We have lots of virgin land for modern development. We are fighting for a road from Linden to Lethem, promised to the town for over 30 years,” said Mayor Holland who is hopeful that the promised help from the International Development Bank (IDB) will be available as soon as possible, to develop the town.
Linden, which is a gateway to Lethem, and a transshipment route to the Venezuelan border, would benefit greatly, since vendors would use the thruway to the neighboring country and the hinterland region for trade.
Holland argues that if infrastructure is in place, the landscape of Linden would change, and residents would have new mindset and something to look forward to.
“People want to see physical change,” adding, that the high unemployment rate gravely affects the youth population, students who graduate high school and seek work, many who would love to become entrepreneurs, when this road is completed.
The politician created a social media – Whats-App chat room, to encourage youths to discuss their aspirations; as such, hundreds have since joined the conversation and are willing to play a part to develop the town.
Two such youths, are a second year law student, who will give back, and a CCTV technician that Mayor Holland said he trained, and is now employed.
Mayor Holland, a 38-year-old former journalist and businessman, the first Linden-born and bred to hold the title, is advocating for a transportation system to help youth to get to school without having to pay exorbitant monthly taxi fares.
There is much concerned also, for young girls who he said, are looking to wealthy grownup boyfriends for finances to get by. An issue the mayor said, needs to be addressed urgently.
Mayor Holland however is not alone in his fight to engage the town’s youth. His wife Nikosi Holland, who traveled with him to New York, said she was ready to push social programs such as environment and science clubs to give students after graduating high school further knowledge apart from what they would have learned academically.
“Schools seldom include clubs as an extra activity these days. I want to revive clubs in schools, and share creative ideas and encourage extracurricular activities, revive reading, and get students involved in the arts,” said Mrs. Holland.
The university lecturer invited experts to visit Linden to inspire the youth, to help them to dream beyond what they see, “we don’t want youths to think that because they have been in a slump for so long, they cannot come out of it.”
“The youth could do great things, but they need someone to constantly motive them, this is what I want to do,” she said.
Linden, named for deceased President Linden Sampson Burnham, a predominantly Afro-Guyanese community that favored the then People’s National Congress party, just opened its first Passport Office, and will benefit from a television station, in the coming months, according to Prime Minister Moses Nagamootoo.