Culture & Society ---
"Guyana is a tough place...it's a fight just to deal with life." - Steven D. Lenhart
It was a pleasure to meet you during the recent Portland Timbers - Alpha United Champions' League game at Providence Stadium, Guyana. I am truly sorry that we could not extend to you the high quality of hospitality for which my family had long been famous. You came at a time when our "house" is in a terrible mess and at a time of grave conflict between our parents, both of whom we love dearly. They go by the nick-names, di Administration and di Opposition, and they seem to really hate each other. Sadly, they are so busy fighting between themselves, maligning each other, calling each other names, and too busy blaming one another for the way things are in our home that they have neglected to take care of our house and to take care of my siblings and me. The decaying smell in the air that you detected when you visited us, the piles of garbage you saw over various parts of the house, and the overflowing sink and toilet, among other deplorables are all evidence of their neglect of their parental responsibilities.
The situation in our dear home has become so desperate that some of my siblings have seemingly lost all hope and are resorting to stealing from and sometimes doing physical harm to other members of the family. It is hard to believe it, but some parts of our house is not safe. Some of my siblings do not take showers, defecate and urine on themselves, and pretty much live lives of involuntary destitution. I pass no judgement; they are all my siblings. Our parents try to make people think that everything is fine in the home, showing a lot of nice photos of our house, but don't be fooled those are old photos that do not reflect the current reality. Even our neighbors no longer treat us with respect, especially our neighbor named Trini. When we show up at her doorsteps she would search us as if we were criminals. Some of my siblings have also told me about poachers who frequent our backyard, stealing some of our precious stuff, but I don't know if this is true, for I have never seen any such activity. In my house you hear all kinds of rumors.
What is very troubling, Steven, is that my siblings appear to be taking sides with our parents. Some are aligning themselves with one parent while others are aligning themselves with the other parent. This is certainly not a good situation, for we are fast becoming a house divided. If our home is to survive, our parents must be willing to suspend some of the positions they hold dear in the interest of the well-being of the entire household. Our parents are not bad people. They are good people who, I believe, desire the best for us their children. They are not perfect either, and because of that they need each other's feedback. Our home can be the beautiful, clean, resource-filled, and safe place it once was, Steven. I must add that there are some parts of our house you did see and which we hardly use. Those parts would blow you away for their insurmountable beauty. And many of my siblings, too, are incredibly wonderful individuals. I hope that when you return again for a visit that our parents would have put our house in order. In the meantime, please pray for my parents that this constant fighting between them will cease. The well-being of our family is at stake.
[Photo Art by Ric Couchman]
Steven Lenhart is an American photographer who travels with the Portland Timbers Football Club. You can read his blog detailing his brief visit to Guyana at http://timbersarmy.org/guyanaaway