WHY IS THE FOUNDATION’S HOUSING & EDUCATION FOCUS NOT IN THE U.S.?
U.S. government serves as a safety net for Americans and numerous charitable entities assist the so-called “poor” in the U.S. In Guyana, there is absolutely no safety net. Few charitable entities other than Food for the Poor are on the ground working in Guyana. Guyana is the only English speaking country in South America. The average per capita income in Guyana is under $1,200/year. Additionally, the cost to build in Guyana is significantly less than in the U.S. For example, the Foundation can build a home for a family of five for $6,400, which allows the Foundation to help more of the “poor” in Guyana than would be possible to assist in the U.S.
Food for the Poor has provided invaluable management support for our building projects. Food for the Poor’s administrative costs are less than 4% of the money they receive. The people of Guyana have been very appreciative and have blessed us with their desire to improve their quality of life.
Guyana, the land of many rivers, lies between Venezuela and Brazil, just north of the equator. Guyana is the second poorest country in the western hemisphere. Only Haiti is poorer. The average per capita income of the 750,000 residents is under $1,200 per year. Guyana has a democratic republic form of government; the official language is English.
- 50% of the people of Guyana are descendants of indentured servants from Indian; 37% are descendants of slaves from Africa, 7% are AmerIndians, and less than 2% are whites of European ancestry; the remainder are of mixed races.
- 90% of the population of Guyana lives within 10 miles of the Atlantic Ocean.
- Guyana was settled by the Dutch who built dikes to claim land that is at or below sea level; the
- British later controlled Guyana which gained its independence in 1966.
- Guyana (~ the same size as Kansas) has only 550 miles of paved roads outside of Georgetown, the capitol.
- Guyana’s natural resources include gold, diamonds, bauxite, and tropical forests which are basically not commercialized. Primary crops are rice and sugarcane.
- 75% of Guyana is owned by its government; almost all of this land is covered by tropical jungle.
- No bridges span the lower portion of the immense Essequibo River (90 feet deep in places), which has an island larger than Barbados; it takes about 30 minutes in a boat traveling 35 mph to cross the 17miles of river which requires going around portions of some islands.
LIL’ RED VILLAGE #1
The Roetheli Lil’ Red Foundation and Food for the Poor initiated work on the village in Guyana on October 4, 2008. The Lil’ Red Village was completed in April 2009 with the help of Food for the Poor and Ali Baskh, Region 2 Chairman (equivalent of a U.S. Governor).
The Lil’ Red Village consists of 100 homes, each with its own sanitation block and shower, a school, a community center that doubles as a worship center, two stores, a deep well for safe drinking water, a water tower, a library, computer center, and a gardening area. Lil’ Red Village is home to nearly 600 people. Each homeowner was required to buy the lot on which their house sets, even though the government had donated the land. The Roetheli Lil’ Red Foundation and Food for the Poor wanted the residents to experience some ownership.
This village was named to incorporate the Roetheli family name which means “little red one”. As a result, the homes in the village have red roofs.
NEW HAVEN VILLAGE #2
The Guyana government graciously provided the land for the New Haven Village. The site was shown to Food for the Poor, which provides in-country assistance services for The Roetheli Lil’ Red Foundation by Region 2 Chairman Ali Baskh on October 4, 2009. AmerIndians, “residents-to-be” immediately began clearing the 40 acres of dense jungle by ax and machete. Ultimately a few chain saws were used to cut some of the larger trees of the jungle.
New Haven Village is accessible only by small boats and an abandoned 32-mile Indian trail. However, this did not deter Food for the Poor, the builders, or the residents-to-be. In fewer than 60 days, the land and trail were cleared, 50 plus truckloads of building materials were delivered, and all buildings of the village were completed!
New Haven Village is similar to Lil’ Red Village, except that New Haven Village has only 70 homes and one store. New Haven was named in honor of the Roetheli’s only granddaughter, Haevyn, and the town of New Haven, Missouri, near where Joe grew up; plus, it is most certainly, a haven for its residents.
PRINCEVILLE VILLAGE #3
The AmerIndians of Whyaka provided the land for Princeville and the residents are the neediest of this AmerIndian enclave. A less remote jungle site than New Haven, Princeville lies between the good agricultural land and the dense tropical jungle. A dirt road and electricity already ran through the site of this village when construction began and in less than 60 days later, the residents were living in their new homes. This is likely the first time many of these residents had a “home” that provided dry cover during the rainy seasons plus a safe place with doors that can be locked.
Princeville consists of 65 homes, each with its own sanitation block and shower, a renovated and expanded school, a community center/worship center, a store, and a safe water delivery system. The Roetheli Lil’ Red Foundation financed this village with the exception of 15 homes provided by Food for the Poor. Princeville was named in honor of the Roetheli’s oldest son, Steffan, which means prince.
GEORGEVILLE VILLAGE #4
Georgeville is named in honor of the late George Hill, who had a soft heart for the needy and was a strong proponent of education. George is the father of Judy (Hill) Roetheli, President of The Roetheli Lil’ Red Foundation. This village consists of 50 homes, each with sanitation and shower facility, a nursery school, a community/ worship center, a water project, and a poultry project.
The only reasonable way to reach Georgeville is by boat/canoe across the enchanting, picturesque Lake Capoey or to walk through the jungle. Construction commenced on April 4, 2011 and was completed on May 25, 2011– just 52 days to build the village through the outstanding efforts of Food for the Poor –Guyana and its contractor.
PARTNERS & SHARED ACTIVITIES
The Foundation and the Roetheli’s have involved themselves in partnering and sharing activities with other charitable organizations as follows:
Food for the Poor, is the largest international relief and development organization in the U.S. and serves the needy in 17 countries of the Caribbean and Latin America.
Project: activities providing housing for the needy in Guyana.
International Vision Quest Foundation (IVQ)
Project: activities providing eye care to the needy in Third World Countries and financing wells for safe drinking water.
Educational Development United Foundation
Project: in its efforts to educate and provide housing for low income people. Joe and Judy have supported a child in Armenia for over a decade.
OTHER GUYANA INITIATIVES IDENTIFIED THROUGH PARTNERSHIP WITH FOOD FOR THE POOR INCLUDE:
- Georgetown – lower economic/slum areas in need of homes. Several other U.S. entities have partnered to build homes for very needy families.
- Georgetown Prison – Identified immediate need for exhaust fans in kitchen area.
- Homes in Sephia – The Foundation has built two homes of especially needy single mothers, each with numerous children