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Guyana: “Youths reach out to street dwellers”

TARGETING 100 homeless individuals living on the streets of Georgetown, two volunteer organisations merged their efforts utilising $100,000 in funds raised, to provide baths, haircuts, clothing, food and medical care to ‘society’s forgotten citizens’.

The main organisations which pooled their resources Sunday were Potluck and the Raising and Extending Arms to Care and Help (REACH) Foundation, which showed up in their numbers and proved once again that the youth of Guyana need not be underestimated.

At the stations, set up opposite the Guyana Post office on Regent Street, were three double-shower units, six barbers, barrels of clothing for both male and females and a medical station manned by students of medicine and one medical practitioner.

The men and women who happily lined up to receive the services were first given the opportunity to brush their teeth with toothbrushes and toothpaste that were provided. They were then given the privacy of the constructed showers to take a bath.

Secretary of REACH Laushana Massiah told this newspaper, that the bath drive which is an initiative of REACH, was formulated based on the observations of the group over time.
“We usually cater for lunch but when we come out we realised the condition they’re in, most of them they’re in rugged clothes, they’re smelly, so we decided to have something different,” she said.

Afterwards, the individuals were assisted in locating their right size of clothing and slippers, while the men many with over-grown hair were given neat trims by the volunteer barbers and the women were given braid-ups.

Items donated to the individuals also included deodorant, toothbrush, toothpaste, shampoo, conditioner, bras, underwear and sanitary napkins.
When questioned on the provision of sanitary napkins which most times is a rarity to women living on the streets, Messiah said: “I think it’s extremely hard for them because we know it’s something that we need and… that’s something that we need to consider.

“You don’t want them to be using any and anything so that’s why we decided that we should give them the sanitary napkins as well. It was extremely costly and that’s why we have to thank our sponsors because if it wasn’t for them we would not have been able to pull off this event.”

Meanwhile, the Potluck organisation with its medical team took charge of providing the individuals with blood sugar testing, blood pressure testing, HIV/AIDS counselling and testing and physical examinations.

The homeless individuals were also taught how to properly use contraceptives such as condoms, with the help of Dr. Gerald Forde from the Georgetown Public Hospital.
“I saw the ad [of REACH] on Facebook and I saw they were doing a bath drive. We would want to help but we don’t have the facilities available so we thought it would be best to team up with them.

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