Santa Rosa, Pakuri elect first fe­male toshaos

Stabroek News Sunday - - BUSINESS PAGE -

Santa Rosa Vil­lage in Re­gion One (Barima/ Waini), the largest Indige­nous com­mu­nity in the coun­try, has elected its first woman toshao in busi­ness­woman Whanita Phillips.

This makes Phillips the third woman to be elected to head a vil­lage coun­cil dur­ing the cur­rent round of na­tional elec­tions of toshaos, and more who have put them­selves for­ward as can­di­dates could be elected to head their vil­lages be­fore the cur­rent round of vot­ing ends on June 15th.

Phillips will also join at the Na­tional Toshaos Coun­cil (NTC) pri­mary school teacher Bev­er­ley Clenkian, who was on Mon­day elected the first woman toshao of Pakuri Vil­lage on the Lin­denSoes­dyke High­way, and Shar­main Ram­ba­jue, who was elected on May 16th, as the first woman to lead Baramita Vil­lage.

“I am very happy with the vic­tory know­ing that I was em­pow­ered by other women and older women who gave me the en­cour­age­ment to take up the chal­lenge,” Phillips told Sun­day Stabroek in a brief com­ment fol­low­ing her elec­tion.

She was tak­ing up the man­tle of toshao, she said, “as a hum­ble ser­vant.”

Her pri­or­ity is to make her pres­ence felt in all the satel­lite com­mu­ni­ties, which, she said, do not see their toshaos after the elec­tions are held. She in­tends to en­sure that peo­ple who are af­fected by lack of a wa­ter sup­ply dur­ing the dry sea­sons, in par­tic­u­lar, are pro­vided with wells or pipe-borne wa­ter.

Also a mat­ter of pri­or­ity, she noted, is the set­tle­ment of a num­ber of land dis­putes in the com­mu­nity.

Like other newly-elected toshaos, Sun­day Stabroek has spo­ken with, Phillips said she will con­tinue the lobby for the ex­ten­sion of the bound­aries of her vil­lage. This is­sue, she said, is long­stand­ing.

Phillips ousted toshao Sher­win Abrams in a keen con­test and also bet­tered another woman can­di­date and a for­mer toshao. She gath­ered 543 votes, while her near­est ri­val, Abrams, ob­tained 399.

Phillips’ newly-elected coun­ter­part in Pakuri Vil­lage, Clenkian, told this news­pa­per after her elec­tion, “I took an oath to serve, and serve I will to the best of my abil­ity”

Clenkian, who won from a field of eight can­di­dates, in­clud­ing three women, told Sun­day Stabroek that her main pri­or­i­ties are so­cial is­sues.

She will be sup­ported in her work by 12 coun­cil­lors, in­clud­ing five who will be serv­ing a sec­ond term.

While con­tin­u­ing the work started by her pre­de­ces­sor, Lenox Shu­man, she said her pri­or­ity is in im­prov­ing ed­u­ca­tion and en­cour­ag­ing sports and cul­ture to fight against drug abuse and al­co­holism, which are so­cial ills in her com­mu­nity.

Sim­i­lar plans were re­cently an­nounced by her coun­ter­part in Baramita, Ram­ba­jue, who was re­cently elected toshao of that Carib com­mu­nity.

Among the work left by Clenkian’s pre­de­ces­sor is the com­ple­tion of a cabin for hous­ing vis­i­tors to the com­mu­nity. The vil­lage also needs an ex­ten­sion of its bound­aries, which Clenkian also in­tends to con­tinue to pur­sue.

Some of the other main is­sues which the coun­cil will have to deal with, she said, are the con­struc­tion of a dis­play cen­tre to pro­mote the com­mu­nity’s rich arts and crafts tra­di­tion as an eco­nomic av­enue, re­build­ing the vil­lage’s main road and se­cur­ing a more re­li­able elec­tric­ity sup­ply.

Clenkian, a fi­nal year man­age­ment and ad­min­is­tra­tion stu­dent at the Univer­sity of Guyana, said she will take a break from stud­ies this year to serve the peo­ple of her com­mu­nity.

She was sec­onded to a school on the East Coast of De­mer­ara and will re­turn to her sub­stan­tive school, but she ex­pects she will be re­leased to per­form her func­tions as toshao.

There is a pos­si­bil­ity that Phillips, Clenkian, and Ram­ba­jue could be joined by more women on the NTC. The three now equal the num­ber of women on the out­go­ing NTC.

On June 12th, Main­stay will also be vot­ing for a toshao as its cur­rent leader and chair­man of the NTC, Joel Fred­er­icks, is not el­i­gi­ble for re-elec­tion. His mother, Peo­ple’s Pro­gres­sive Party/Civic par­lia­men­tar­ian and a for­mer toshao Yvonne Pear­son, is one of two can­di­dates vy­ing for the post. The other can­di­date is Mil­ton Fred­er­icks.

Mean­while, Aishal­ton yes­ter­day also voted for a new toshao. Michael Thomas, 31 years, copped 331 votes to re­move out­go­ing toshao Dou­glas Casimero who se­cured 81.

Batavia Vil­lage in the Cuyuni, which held its elec­tions on Mon­day, also elected Orin Wil­liams its new toshao. He re­ceived 102 votes, while his near­est ri­val se­cured 63.

Whanita Phillips

Bev­er­ley Clenkian

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