Ambassador Remarks at USAID BLES Graduation Ceremony

Ambassador Lynch congratulates a participant

Remarks by Ambassador Sarah-Ann Lynch
USAID BLES Graduation Ceremony – Georgetown
Thursday, April 2, 2019


  • Samantha Williams, Assistant Chief Education Officer – Nursery, Ministry of Education
  • Christopher Jones, Director of Sport, Ministry of the Presidency
  • Rawle Dundas, Chief Executive Officer, Professional Development Enterprise
  • Courtney Brown, Country Manager of USAID’s Community, Family & Youth Resilience program & other staff members
  • Parents and other specially invited guests
  • Members of the media
  • AND Most importantly, Basic Life and Employability Skills graduates

Good evening,

It is my pleasure to be here with you today.  I only recently arrived in Guyana, but so far I have been truly impressed with the warmth and beauty of your country and people.  I am honored to have the opportunity to be a part of this wonderful celebration.  Thank you for the warm reception, and for welcoming the U.S. government and the U.S. Agency for International Development into your community.

For more than a decade, USAID has partnered with regional governments, local stakeholders, and members of the private sector with the goal of creating a safer, more prosperous Caribbean.  In this regard, we have placed a high priority on youth development.

We want to create an environment where Guyanese youth can thrive, grow, and move on to do groundbreaking things for their communities.  Through the Community, Family & Youth Resilience (CFYR) Project, life-changing programs like after-school opportunities, workforce development programs, leadership training, and family counseling are available to youth right here in Georgetown.  Like all of you, we believe that investment in the lives of young people will accelerate our progress toward a safer, healthier, and more prosperous world.  For this reason, we partner with communities like yours to develop inclusive programs and support systems.  This sustainable approach promotes a path to self-reliance and resilience for these young people.

Today’s event marks the successful completion of one of those interventions, the Basic Life and Employability Skills (or BLES) program.  Through sheer determination and commitment, 66 of you have completed five weeks of intensive training in life skills, employment skills, and reproductive health.  You have learned how to work in teams, maintain a positive attitude, manage stress, and manage finances.  These skills will not only serve you well in the workplace, but will help you to lead empowered and successful lives.  You all should be very proud of yourselves and what you have accomplished.  Today’s graduation marks the first step on your path to achieving your goals.

I want to take the time to recognize the proud parents and guardians who are here today.  Your presence speaks to your continued commitment to helping these young adults through this critical stage in their lives.  Your support is the foundation that their success will be built upon.

To our private sector partners, I want to salute you for helping to make this project a success.  On December 12, the United States government launched its new Private-Sector Engagement Policy. It urges us to work hand-in-hand with the private sector to support and uplift Guyanese youth to solve broader development problems.  So, allow me to reiterate the U.S. Embassy’s enthusiasm and desire to partner with the private sector in order to unlock the vast potential of Guyanese youth.  I am sure you share our belief that they are, undoubtedly, this country’s greatest asset.  We are indeed grateful for your support.

It is also encouraging to see the overwhelming support from caring individuals and members of the community who made their venues and resources available for this graduation ceremony.  We are so pleased that you have chosen to support these programs that can transform the lives of such deserving young people.

In closing, I urge you graduates to continue to believe in yourselves and work toward achieving your goals. While I listened to your elevator pitches just now, I was impressed to hear the all of the various career paths that each of you has chosen.  However, as you move on and step into new, more powerful roles, I ask you to remember the support that you received here. Do what you can to help other youth from your communities, so that they too can have the opportunity to succeed as you have. When we support each other, we all win.

Best wishes to you all. Thank you.