Guyanese born Marva Langevine is transforming the lives of bereaved, sick and underprivileged children and families in Guyana.
She is the founder of the Guyana Golden Lives Organization, which she has used to open up a national conversation about the loss of a loved one in childhood. The organization provides financial and psycho-social support services for bereaved children, job opportunities for widows, and food hampers and building materials for low income families.
In the future, Marva hopes to hold ‘grief in the classroom’ workshops for Guyanese teachers and community outreach initiatives on bereavement. Marva has also created Camp Golden, a camp for bereaved young people, which provides counselling, food, shelter and educational opportunities.
In addition, Marva is a founding member of Den-Amstel Dynamic Network, a youth group focused on restoring the cultural art forms for which her home village of Den-Amstel was once famous.
“I found my purpose and I received the courage to give hope to those who needed it. What started as ice-cream dates and hugs for two toddlers after their mother died, has grown into an organisation dedicated to supporting bereaved children as they cope, grow and succeed.”
In an interview with UNESCO she said
“My country is a multi-ethnic country and this has a huge influence on our traditional cultural practices. Ethnic groups vary across the different communities and their customs, values and artistic expressions are often very different from each other. Unfortunately, when it comes to cultural heritage, young people in my country do not learn much about their identity and are therefore less enthusiastic when it comes to preserving the legacies of their ancestors.”
“As a teacher, I have a great platform not just to teach my students about different cultures but to also make them aware of their own culture. Many students think that everyone thinks, speaks and acts the same everywhere but in my classroom, they soon become aware about the diverse cultures within the world, their country and even their local community.”
Guyanese Support Organizations
There has been much media attention on the increasing number of suicides and homicides, particularly, deaths caused by domestic violence, in Guyana. These reports and statistics, however, seldom give us insight about the trauma that these untimely deaths cause to the children who are left behind.
The reality is, that when a parent or loved one dies, Guyanese children lose a sense of security and safety; the impact is immense and can be carried into adulthood. Additionally, surviving relatives are often left to bear the financial and emotional challenges of caring for a grieving child.
GGLO’s Vision: To assist in providing comfort and support of all kinds to Guyanese children across all divides who have suffered bereavement in Guyana.
GGLO’s main objective is, therefore; to promote the rights of widows/widowers and orphans through the provision of support services specifically created to respond to the psychological, emotional and financial distress of children and families recovering from the loss of a parent or loved one. They provide practical support to grieving children and families through mentorship, scholarships and financial assistance.
Promoting Guyanese Advocacy
In addition, the Organization also engage in community advocacy and support research on child bereavement in Guyana. Since its founding, GGLO has supported over thirty bereaved children across Guyana by meeting their diverse needs and are working towards offering assistance to many more families and communities across the country.
They are inviting everyone to join the campaign on November 21, 2019, to show support for the thousands of grieving children in Guyana and contribute to their work in other ways if you are able to do so. The theme is “Be an Everyday Hero- in support of grieving children”.
GGLO hopes to collaborate with the NGOs and Department of Youth across the region to create empowerment sessions/activities to equip young people with the skills to deal with loss. They would be less vulnerable to gangs and other social ills.
Through joint efforts, GGLO is hoping they can raise awareness about the need for special care and attention to be given to grieving children. Bereavement is an overwhelming experience for people of all ages but for children, it is especially challenging.
Story courtesy of The Queens Young Leaders Award