West Indies Cricketers Visit Recovering Village in Guyana: Digicel Cricket Update
West Indies cricketers Ramnaresh Sarwan, Devendra Bishoo, Darren Bravo, Brendan Nash and Kraigg Brathwaite, along with former Windies spin bowler Lance Gibbs took some time before the start of the Digicel Test Series 2011 to visit the village of Buxton in Demerara and meet the kids who are part of Buxton’s Youth Development Programme, and the people who are making a difference in this once-troubled community.
About 500 men, women and children lined the entrance to the newly constructed Buxton Youth Developers Community Centre to give the cricketers a hero’s welcome. The players demonstrated some bowling and batting techniques to the kids but were soon surrounded and overwhelmed by their zealous fans, young and old alike, who were clamouring for autographs and photos.
The Buxton project is part of Digicel Guyana’s efforts to reach out to the community, and began as just a donation to the programme but has expanded into what is hoped to be a long term partnership.
“We were initially approached to make a donation to the Centre’s “Buy A Block” programme to assist in completing the building but after learning more about what Mr. Lennie Shuffler and his team are trying to accomplish here in Buxton, we wanted to do more, and so we are interested in making much more than a financial investment in this community,” explained Gregory Dean, CEO of Digicel Guyana who was on hand for the activities. “The residents here are working hard to change their community, and Digicel is pleased to be a part of that effort. We hope to continue to support this neighbourhood that is being revitalised one resident at a time.”
Lennie Shuffler, Patron of the Buxton Youth Developers Community was visibly emotional as he welcomed the cricketers and watched them interact with the children.
“This is truly a dream come true and will go down in the history books of the Buxton Youth Developers Community,” said the 73-old former Guyana national volleyball player who struggled to contain his emotions. “This village has had its ups and downs but what is taking place here today is sending a message to the community at large that you no longer have to be afraid to come here. Our vision is for these kids to look at life differently and having these cricketers here today is showing them a different way.”
Shuffler says that Buxton needs the corporate support that companies like Digicel provide but he wants to earn their support and respect instead of begging for handouts.
“We need to lift up the people in this community and the way to do it is by having them participate in the regeneration of their neighbourhood. This is what we encourage.”
The West Indies players were amazed by the warm reception they received, and thoroughly enjoyed the session.
“This was a wonderful day,” said Guyanese player Ramnaresh Sarwan. “I was just as excited as these kids were. I truly hope that our visit here today will inspire one of these youngsters to pursue a career in cricket. I think it would be great if Buxton produced an international cricketer, perhaps one of these kids that we met here today. This was an amazing experience.”
Digicel Guyana donated 4500 concrete blocks toward the Buxton building project, and also recently hosted a fun day for the Buxton community where representatives gave out school supplies and provided a day of fun and entertainment for the entire family.