“Read this Non-Story; You’ll be Glad You Did” – by Francis Quamina Farrier

“Read this Non-Story; You’ll be Glad You Did” – by Francis Quamina Farrier

 Francis Quamina Farrier

Francis Quamina Farrier

There are those times when some Media reports are referred to as a “non-story”. The implication being that it does now have what it takes to ‘hold’ the reader or the viewer. That it is insipid. Maybe this is one such story. It unfolded in Queenstown, Georgetown, on Sunday November 6, 2016. At that time, Guyana, and all the rest of the World was focused on the final days of the Presidential Elections in the United States of America, as the pellets of ‘dirt’ from the opposing camps of Democrats and Republicans, were zipping here, there and everywhere, across that great country, like shooting stars or bullets from an A-K47!

Meanwhile, here in Guyana, I responded to an invited to attend a Harvest Thanksgiving Service at the tiny Salvation Army church at 245 Forshaw Street, in Queenstown, Georgetown. There was no VIP in attendance – no Minister of Government or other celebrity. There was certainly no member of the media – well, except myself. But what I discovered made me feel hopeful that my “Dear Land of Guyana”, is certainly not as bad as some make it out to be; especially so many in the Diaspora.   

As the Thanksgiving Service commenced, I immediately knew that the high spirits of the congregation was certainly making up for the quality of the singing. There was no proper musical accompaniment, complements of the Guyana Power and Light, which had a ten hour Power Outage, due to major maintenance. So the keyboard and other instruments which needed electricity to function, were temporarily non-functional. There were just two instruments – a drum, played by a young boy, and a tambourine, played by an old lady. But they sufficed.

The singers, each and everyone, did as good a job as they could under the prevailing circumstances. There were all cheered on by the congregation, and the hour-long programme was gone in what seemed like just half an hour. Of note, is that a high percentage of the congregation travelled long distances to attend that Harvest Thanksgiving Celebration Service. A few came from as far as Vergenoegen on the East Bank Essequibo. However, that is not all that I have to report in this ‘non-story’. This is not intended as a bait to keep you reading on. No, this is of great importance. So please read on – you’ll be glad you did.

As you recall, Georgetown, was once regarded as “The Garden City of the Caribbean”, back in the day. However, in more recent decades, it became known as “The Garbage City”. But throughout those years, there had always been those good citizens who kept the Faith and ensured that their surroundings were always kept clean and tidy; all through those garbage years. Next to that Salvation Army church on Forshaw Street, there was an impressive Clean-up of the yard, even as members of the congregation were arriving.

A 41 year old mother (she looks like that ‘just 29’) and her teen-age sons and their friends, were diligently on a clean-up exercise of the property. Brooms, spades, wheel-barrows, were all part of the tools in use.  I was told that the Georgetown City Council had nothing to do with that Clean-up; that it was their very own initiative, and something that they do on a regular basis. What was also very evident, was the joy with which these ordinary Folks were doing the right thing; which hardly ever attracts the Media, unless it is being done at the orders or instructions of some Minister of Government.

As the clean-up exercise and the Harvest Thanksgiving Service continued simultaneously, it dawned upon me, that saying; “Cleanliness is next to Godliness.” And here was that saying being played out in reality; a clean-up exercise and a Harvest Thanksgiving Service, both going on at the very same time, next to each other. But that was just a ‘non-story’ as far as the general Media is concerned.

Meanwhile, all across the the United States of America, and the rest of the world, including Guyana, the ‘real’ news stories of the latest utterances by the two Presidential Candidates, were grabbing the Headlines; “BREAKING NEWS.” (To break your heart). But even at that time, no one knew what Joy was breaking in the hearts of the congregation, at the tiny Salvation Army Church, and the Neighbouring Yard, on 245 Forshaw Street, Queenstown, Georgetown, in Guyana, and those next door, engaged in that self-help Clean-Up exercise, at that time. That was simply a ‘non-story’.

 The tiny Salvation Army church in Queenstown

The tiny Salvation Army church in Queenstown

 Inside the Salvation Army church in Queenstown

Inside the Salvation Army church in Queenstown

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Comments

  • Eslyn  On November 10, 2016 at 2:24 am

    What a delightful story. I was born in Forshaw Street and that was the only home we livedin. We lived between New Garden and Peter Rose Streets. That church was not there in my time. I think that must be between Albert and Oronoque Streets,

    Thank you for sharing a non-story😀😀😀

  • shirley  On December 12, 2016 at 7:57 pm

    I am an elderly woman now. I attended Queenstown Salvation Army Sunday School every Sunday from around age 5 to age 7 while , I lived at the corner of Forshaw and Church Streets, opposite the Seventh Day Adventist Church, Queenstown. Of course that area looked very different at that time. I have happy memories of the drum and the tambourine accompanying the lusty singing and happy clapping of us children. Harvest and Christmas were the high points of our lives. Thank you for the photograph. I congratulate the members on keeping their church clean and in good condition. Thank you for sharing such a lovely non-story.

  • Marilyn  On December 22, 2016 at 1:20 pm

    Dear Uncle Francis, allow me to send you great Christmas greetings from the North. You may well know that Christmas in Guyana could never be replecated here in the North. All we have are those warm and super pleasant memories of those days of yore. Christmas music serves as the most potent form of that nostalgia.

    That aside, your non-story is indeed a story. It may not be exciting but it answers aptly all the tentes of real journalism.

    I am glad to see the word Harvest mentioned again when it comes to Thanksgiving. In recent years I became quite irritated to hear that Guyanese were celebrating America’s Thanksgiving holiday replete with turkey and cranberry sauce. I thought how tragic and trivial!

    This brings me to my only criticism of the story, your inclusion of America’s election results. I found it to be a distraction; non-sequiter. We should not be so wrapped up in America that we lose sight of what stories are more important to us.

    Respectfully,

    • Francis Quamina Farrier  On December 23, 2016 at 10:31 pm

      Dear Marilyn; thanks for your kind comments and the little criticism, which I welcome., since it is precisely because Guyana is now like an unofficial state of the USA; but mainly with the less noble activities, that I included the run-up to the Presidential Elections. It was among the main talking points; and the names Clinton and Trump mentioned more than even our own political leaders during that period. I now take this opportunity to Wish you and Yours a very Merry Christmas and a very Happy and prosperous 2017.

  • Randolph Kendall  On December 22, 2016 at 4:05 pm

    Thank you for sharing this wonderful story Mr. Farrier. I am always amazed at the human spirit and never count anyone out, including Guyana. I remember Georgetown as the Garden City. In fact, Georgetown had working farm plots within the city limits. This phenomenon is now in vogue in several North American Cities; they are called community gardens. We were ahead of our time in quite a few areas. I also remember, as a little boy, a policeman scolding a woman on Main Street in New Amsterdam for cursing. Wow!

    On my first visit to Guyana, after being away for quite a while, I was greeted with good morning by a group of school girls. Wow! “This is Guyana.” I said. ” This is Guyana.” On my visit in 2014, almost 25 years later, I encountered the same courtesy. My brothers neighbours in South Ruimveldt were all so friendly and open. Don’t have to let you know how guarded a life some of us in the North American Diaspora live.

    I will have to visit The Salvation Army Church on my next visit to Guyana.
    A wonderful story Mr. Farrier. Spot on!

    Keep Up the Great Spirit Guyana.

    • Francis Quamina Farrier  On December 23, 2016 at 10:35 pm

      Sir Randolph; I just looked at this comment tag and saw yours; and so I must take a moment and thank you for your kind remarks and extend Seasons Greetings to you and yours and wish you all the very best for 2017.

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