This year Builders Beyond Borders and I are travelling to Guyana to provide our services. Guyana is a very unknown country, and there are many common misconceptions about it. Recently, when I explained where I am going for spring break 2013 with Builders Beyond Borders, I get two usual questions: 1. “Is that the country in Africa?” and 2. “Isn’t Guyana home of the Jonestown Massacre?”. Guyana is in Northeastern South America, bordered by Venezuela, Brazil, and Suriname. Even though it is physically located in South America, it is considered Caribbean. It is known for the disturbing Jonestown Massacre, where Jim Jones convinced 900 disciples to commit a mass suicide, but there is a deep-rooted history and culture that has not been recognized by the majority of people.

Guyana is quite the melting pot of South America; the population consists of 43.5% East Indian, 30.2% Afro-Guyanese, 9.1% Amerindians, and 17% mixed (American, European, and Chinese). The official language is English, although there are many other local languages such as Portuguese, Spanish, and Akawaio. The majority of the East Indian populations are members are of the Hindu religion and the Afro-Guyanese populations are primarily of the Christian faith. This mix of cultures cultivates distinctive foods (based on Creole dishes), visual arts, and traditions. The geography of Guyana is broken into five natural regions; a narrow and fertile marshy plain along the Atlantic cost, a white sand belt more inland, the dense rainforests of the south part of the country, the desert savannah of the southern west, and the smallest interior lowlands consisting of many mountains.

Guyana is a remarkable country, but unfortunately its people have been struggling for many years. The unemployment is at a devastating 50%, and 43% of the country is therefore under the poverty line (21% of those in extreme poverty).

That’s where the organization Builders Beyond Borders comes in! My wonderful team, called Esperanza, is departing on March 9th for Festival City. The city is just outside of Georgetown, the capital of Guyana. It is the original home to one of the most celebrated festivals in the Caribbean, the inaugural Caribbean Festival of Arts.

Festival City is currently in trouble. One of the pressing needs is the need for a place for the public to come together for meetings, clinics, classes, training, and other communal needs. This year, Esperanza is partnering with Habitat for Humanity to create such a center. We will be interacting with community throughout the trip, working together to bring the city together.

Last year I was able to experience a trip to Nicaragua due to the generosity of multiple sponsors. I hope to reproduce this success this year so I could help make a difference in Festival City, Guyana. With your generous donation, I could devote my time to a community less privileged than my own and help live up to the Builders Beyond Borders motto: “Build a Better World”.

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