MonDAY, December 9, 2013
Youth group formed Who killed the to help tackle HIV, Smythfield girls? violence
By Nafeeza Yahya
Nekecia “Nikki” Rouse
Youths in Unison members blending their voices in song during the launching of their organisation
A section of the youths at the launching of the group
group of young people have united to create change in their respective communities, promising to fight against gender-based violence and discrimination. Youths in Unison is an arm of the Roadside Baptist Church Skills Training Centre in Berbice. The youths are peer educators and provide awareness sessions on gender-based violence, HIV/AIDS and other social issues that affect the region. Speaking at the ceremony to launch the group last week, Culture, Youth and Sport Minister, Dr Frank Anthony lauded the Roadside Baptist Church Skills Training Centre for initiating the project. Anthony is confident that this initiative will be a success as youths are the future of the country. “We have to take a different attitude with young people and I strongly believe that as young people, you can make tremendous differences in the communities from which you are from… we have seen when young people decide to do something there is nothing stopping them… and there are a lot of things that adults may shy away from young people have the energy to be able to do it…they can overcome prejudices that were there before and in the end, you will be able to make changes,” Minister Anthony said. The minister encouraged the youths to work
hard and to participate in other programmes offered by the ministry. These include the President’s Youth Award – Republic of Guyana (PYARG); National Drama Festival; Volunteer Youth Platform; and youth camps. United States embassy Charge d’ Affaires Bryan Hunte, in his address to the gathering, noted that when it comes to HIV/AIDS, Guyana has set the ambitious goal of “Getting to Zero: Zero New Infections, Zero AIDS-Related Deaths, and Zero Stigma and Discrimination.” “Reaching this objective will require the sustained commitment and participation of all of us here today, and many more stakeholders who want to make a positive difference in the lives of our Guyanese friends,” he said. Hunte explained that 10 years ago Guyana and the United States of America embarked on a new relationship through the President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR). He related that at the time Guyana appeared to be on the precipice of an HIV/AIDS crisis with a growing infection rate and enabling conditions for the rapid spread of the disease similar to those found in other countries. “It is a testament to the collective efforts of government, donor partners, and civil society that the picture in Guyana has improved dramatically, and Guyanese institutions are now poised to take on ever greater re-
sponsibility for continuing to combat the disease,” Hunte stated. He added that people must also remember that there is shared responsibility in the fight for an AIDSfree generation and this is where Youths in Unison can make a difference. Region Six Chairman David Armogan commended the organisation for its numerous efforts in reaching out to the children, youths and elderly in Berbice. He expressed satisfaction that the group will be targeting issues that negatively affect the lives of residents and stressed on the important role youths play in their communities. Programme facilitator Rebekah Timram noted that the behaviour of adults in society is imitated by youths and this in turn has an impact on how youths behave in their adult life. In this regard, Youths in Unison members realise that they do not have to be restrained and they have a responsibility to make positive choices for a better life. She also encouraged youths to speak out about their challenges and emphasised the importance of them educating themselves. Members of the group who were trained as counsellors through the United States Agency for International Aid (USAID) were presented with certificates by Charge d’ Affaires Hunte and Minister Anthony.
he heart-wrenching events of February 15, 2009 will forever be etched in the memories of family members of Nekecia Rouse and Alexis George who were savagely murdered. Even now, no one, including the police, can provide an answer to this haunting question. Relatives remember Alexis, called “Keisha”, as “the sweetest person we knew, not the party type, not an outgoing person”. Alexis’s older sister, Shanty, said, “Alexis was at the wrong place, at the wrong time.” The night before, Alexis, along with her and Nekecia’s daughter, was at a bingo game. As the evening hours lengthened, Alexis decided to spend the night at her friend’s home, where the game was held. A teary eyed Shanty said Alexis’s fiancé called her and asked her what she was doing with the children out so late. It was then that she decided to go home. Shanty said if her sister had stayed at her friend’s house that fateful night, she probably would have been alive today. Nekecia, called “Nikki”, had been out the night before. Sometime around 04:30h on February 15, she went home and was talking to a friend on her cellphone. According to the friend,
Alexis “Keisha” George
Nekecia hinted that someone was at the door. She told the friend that she was going to return the call. It is speculated that that someone must have been someone known to Nekecia, for she would not have opened the door otherwise, at that hour. That was the last time Nekecia’s friend would hear from her. About 90 minutes later, around 06:00h, a child made the gruesome discovery: Alexis George dead, in a crouched position behind a tree. Three chop wounds were seen on the hand of the 18-year-old mother of one. . There was also a wound to her neck. Persons who gathered at the scene had no idea that 25-year-old Nekecia was lying in a pool of blood in the house the women shared with Nekecia’s mother. She also had a wound to her neck and lacerations about her body. A bloodstained kitchen knife was found on
the veranda. The women’s two daughters were found unharmed. From all indications, they were attacked in the house, but Alexis somehow managed to get outside. Tyrone Talbot, a former U.S. Army officer out on early retirement, who was involved with Nekecia, was taken into police custody and questioned about the double murder. He maintained his innocence, but relatives of the murdered women were positive that he had committed the crime because he was charged in 2004, for the murder of his wife in Germany. Forensic tests performed on bloodstained articles by the police proved that Talbot was not connected to the crime. Another suspect Jermaine Davis was also let go since there was no evidence putting him at the scene of the crime. So, the question remains: who killed the Smythfield girls?
The Beacon of Truth