–Douglas Gittens pushing transformation of Region 10 from the grass root level
By Naomi Marshall
Growing up, Douglas Gittens never really had a dream profession, but now, he is working towards becoming Guyana’s President in the next 20 to 25 years. He intends to achieve this goal by connecting with the grassroots while ensuring that their concerns are represented at the highest decision making body in the country – Parliament. Further, through effective planning, he intends to transform communities starting with those in his region – Upper Demerara-Berbice.
Gittens, a teacher and Vice Chairman of Region 10, grew up with his mother in the mining town of Linden and graduated sixth form at the Mackenzie High School in 2001.
That year he began teaching at his alma mater with the aim of working for a year to get money and then to leave for university.
However, Gittens fell in love with the profession and spent the last 19 years teaching Caribbean Studies, Communication Studies, Sociology and History at the Mackenzie High School. During the last 10 years, he has been consistently named the best CAPE teacher.
In 2011, Gittens got involved in politics and has served as a member of the Regional Democratic Tender Board, Chairman of Culture Youth and Sport Committee, Chairman of Agriculture Committee, and Chairman of Information Management Committee. He also served as Vice Chairman of the People’s National Congress Reform (PNCR), Region 10.
His decision to enter the political realm was driven by his desire to actually see things being done in his community.
“The interest in helping people, actually seeing things being done, is the reason why I entered into politics; not for the love of money or anything else but just to listen and actually help and do something for people,” he said.
On September 28, 2020 Gittens was elected Vice Chairman of Region 10. For Gittens, this meant that he now has the prerogative to actually do things for the people of his region by being directly involved in the responsible formulation, coordination and decision making process of policies that will better his region.
Since taking office, the 37-year-old and his team have been assessing Region 10.
“I rather visit the person, see their face, speak to them on the ground, let them show me what is wrong. The Regional Chairman and I have been on the ground and so far that has been such a different vibe for people,” he told INFO 10.
Over the years, Region 10 has been facing several social issues with a high unemployment rate being one.
According to Gittens, Region 10 has an unemployment rate of over 70 percent which has resulted in several other issues such as crime, poverty, debt, homelessness, family stress, the atrophying of work skills and brain drain, among others.
Gittens noted that the RDC is on a mission to finding solutions to the social issues affecting persons in Region 10.
“We will first analyze the thinking of the people; because everything we experience right now is a culture that was weird at first and now it has become a norm so you have to change it back to something that is abnormal by correcting the situation,” he added.
In an effort to address the unemployment issue in the region, the Council intends to make it mandatory for foreign contractors operating in the region to hire local persons.
The Regional Democratic Council will also be working on the region’s infrastructure and recreational facilities to make the town a more vibrant and modern environment.
“We cannot change everything right away but we will try with the small things first and then spread our wings but Region 10 will definitely experience development in the next five years whether we (APNU+AFC Coalition) are in government or not. We will ensure that the new government make things happen for this region,” Gittens told INFO 10.
This youthful leader is currently in his final year at the University of Guyana, reading for a Degree in International Relations, and will go on to do a degree in Public Management, and then a Masters and Doctorate in the field of International Relations in the coming years.