Guyana Chronicle / The community of Monkey Mountain, North Pakaraimas (Region Eight) THE much-anticipated construction of a lapidary in the picturesque village of Monkey Mountain in the North Pakaraimas (Region Eight) is expected to commence soon. This facility, once operable, will produce jewellery, ornaments and exotic furniture pieces from semi-precious stones which can be found in abundance on the plains of the Pakaraimas.
Minister within the Ministry of Indigenous People’s Affairs Valerie Garrido-Lowe recently attended a meeting in the village where villagers agreed on the location for the facility, a key step in the realisation of the project.
Some of the jewellery made by residents Fifteen youths and a few adults from the village have been actively involved in gathering semi-precious stones and Minister Garrido-Lowe assured villagers that there will be tremendous benefits awaiting them once the project is on stream. The minister also noted that it is Government’s intention to empower and enable the indigenous people despite their geographic location.
“I believe that no matter what fancy building we give you, fancy schools we give you, if we do not empower you economically, if we cannot give you the opportunity to earn to buy things for your children, yourself and your home, then we are not doing anything better for you; we are just keeping you the same way you were all the time and it is not right”, the Minister said.
The Minister also took her resource person in Marcel Yhip, who has been in the field for more than 30 years, to impart her knowledge and provide guidance to persons involved in the project and ensure that these semi-precious minerals meet international market standards.
Minister Garrido-Lowe also encouraged villagers to support the establishment of a Coop Society there which will further strengthen their earning power. “It will give you an opportunity to earn in an organised way…and Minister Dominic Gaskin who is not only the Minister of Business but he’s an excellent jeweller, is very excited with working with us on this project. Not only will we sell polished stones, but we will also learn to make jewellery. We will train about five or six young people to make jewellery from these beautiful stones, so like the Tomato farmers in Paramakatoi, you will be able to earn from the Coop”, the minister assured.
Perlina Gifth, the Chief Co-operatives Development Officer in the Ministry of Social Protection, said once established, the Coop will ensure “better representation for members and communities, where members can apply and acquire more resources…we believe that if people come together the profits will be shared and not only one man will become the rich and famous in the community, but all will become rich and famous. It will also ensure better opportunities for marketing products; that’s where we will help you too”.
Villagers are eagerly awaiting the completion of the facility, since many of them were aware of the presence of these semi-precious stones but at the same time were unaware of how invaluable they are. One resident said she had no knowledge these minerals were so exquisite and that villagers were practically traversing daily over a fortune and what could possibly be the village’s main economic driver.
Johnny Roth, another villager who is a gem specialist and also a resident, will also play a key role in seeing this project to fruition. Roth has worked in the mining industry for a number of years and will be an asset. Minister Garrido-Lowe also highlighted the Tourism aspect of this initiative where tourists can go on an excursion in search of these semi-precious minerals and be able to appreciate the process from the time it is collected to completion of the final product, whether it’s an earring, necklace, pendant, ring or any other fine jewellery produced.
Kato, Kurukubaru, Maikwak and Tuseneng are the four other villages to benefit, since these semi-precious stones can also be found there in abundance. Among them crystals, amethyst, volcanic, jasper and agate gemstones, and once retrieved and taken to the factory, several unique pieces including jewellery will be created which will add value to the product.
Meanwhile, the Ministry had requested of the village a quarter of an acre of land for the construction of the facility, but villagers decided to set aside an acre of land which will see the construction of a 40’x 20’ facility which will boast a workshop, exhibit area, washrooms and security area.
Monkey Mountain or the traditional name when the village was established “Wandike” is home to more than 1,000 residents and is nestled beautifully in the North Pakaraima Mountain Range and lies 1,700 feet above sea level. Its main economic activity is traditional farming, hunting and fishing.
GUYANA: $10M lapidary for Monkey Mountain
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