Written by Christine Samwaroo
Edited by Afeefa Richardson
Starting another year through the lens of a global pandemic is nothing short of its challenges. However, a new year and new month always bring a sense of new beginnings and fresh starts. Life as we know it has changed drastically and we are still getting used to this new normal. In the shadows of the pandemic, The Breadfruit Collective (TBC) began to take its form.
2021 was the first official year of starting a blueprint of the work we hope to continue. 2021 was the year that we began to build our network and strategically engage with partners across Guyana and in the diaspora, exploring what work can be done despite the limitations of working remotely. The year was the first of many; first time speaking on an international panel under the brand of TBC, first time co-authoring a children’s book, first mutual aid, first Instagram live, first fundraiser, first newspaper feature, first podcast interview, and so many other memorable moments. It was also the year that the team began to grow. In 2021, TBC welcomed Iyana Alleyne and Afeefa Richardson to the team. Despite working full time, completing undergraduate studies and managing other responsibilities, both women are passionate about this work and on collaborating with TBC. The success of 2021 was also a result of the dedication of the Youth Ambassadors: Seeromanie Persaud, Nathan Ramsarran and Daena Richards, teenagers who are not only interested in social justice but who continue to face irreversible effects on their social, and emotional development by being out of school.
As TBC began 2022, January was filled with many virtual calls with partners on how the organisation can strategically plan for the new year. The biggest goal of this year is to get the organisation registered as an official NGO in Guyana. Additional goals include more storytelling projects, conferences, mutual aids, local campaigns, webinars, and when possible, going out and having conversations on gender and the environment with local people. At the core of all the planning, TBC is committed to using an intersectional lens, holding each other accountable to the work we set out to do and finding joy in all of it. It's a time for each of the members to grow, learn, unlearn and relearn. In 2022, the team will continue to strengthen its partnerships with community groups.
The work ahead is challenging. Guyana continues to record high cases of gender-based violence (GBV). In just the first month of 2022, Loretta Simon, 24, was murdered by her ex partner. In the midst of the pandemic, the Shadow Pandemic continues to grow. Emerging data shows that all types of violence against women and girls has intensified.
Similarly, the global community continues to battle the climate crisis. We are reminded of the consequences of living on a warming planet. Coastal countries like Guyana are listed as one of the most vulnerable. However, January marked the discovery of new oil reserves in the country. For many on the front lines, there is little hope on what this means for Guyanese and there is no clear picture on who benefits from the oil wealth that is promised. There is no debate that the cost of living within the last few months has gone up significantly.
TBC continues to connect the climate crisis to the gender crisis. The burden of it all falls on the shoulders of those most vulnerable. However, in Guyana, activists are committed to speaking up against the injustices. TBC is committed to standing in solidarity and supporting their efforts to create a Guyana that is fair to all. The work for 2022 has started, there is momentum to build on what was done in 2021. As a small team, we know the work is complex. There is no easy fix. We acknowledge that our approach will not be perfect. However, there is strong willingness to try and we do believe that with the right partnerships and support, small changes will happen in this new year.