The much anticipated construction of a Lapidary in the picturesque village of Monkey Mountain in the North Pakaraimas (Region 8) is expected to commence soon.
This facility, once operable, will produce Jewellery, ornaments and exotic furniture pieces from semi-precious stones which can be found in abundance on the plains of the Pakaraimas.
Minister within the Ministry of Indigenous Peoples’ Affairs Valerie Garrido-Lowe recently attended a meeting in the village where villagers agreed on the location for the construction of the facility, a key step in the realization of this state of the art facility.
Fifteen youth and a few adults from the village have been actively involved in gathering semi-precious stones and Minister Garrido-Lowe assured villagers and the dedicated youth who are at the forefront, that there will be tremendous benefits awaiting them once the project goes on stream.
The Minister also noted that it is Government’s intention to empower and enable the indigenous people despite their geographic location.
“I believe that no matter what fancy building we give you, fancy schools we give you, if we do not empower you economically, if we cannot give you the opportunity to earn to buy things for your children, yourself and your home, then we are not doing anything better for you; we are just keeping you the same way you were all the time and it is not right”, the Minister said.
Minister also took her resource person in Marcel Yhip, who has been in the field for more than thirty years, to impart her knowledge and provide guidance to persons involved in the project and ensure that these semi-precious minerals meet international market standards.
Minister Garrido-Lowe also encouraged villagers to support the establishment a Coop Society there which will further strengthen their earning power.
“It will give you an opportunity to earn in an organized way….and Minister Gaskin who is not only the Minister of Business but he’s an excellent jeweler is very excited with working with us on this project. Not only will we sell polished stones but we will also learn to make jewelry we will train about five or six young people to make jewelry from these beautiful stones, so like the Tomato farmers in Paramakatoi you will be able to earn form the Coop”, the Minister assured.
Perlina Gifth, the Chief Co-operatives Development Officer in the Ministry of Social Protection said once established, the Coop will ensure “better representation for members and communities, where members can apply and acquire more resources…we believe that if people come together the profits will be shared and not only one man will become the rich and famous in the community, but all will become rich and famous. It will also ensure better opportunities for marketing products that’s where we will help you too”.
Villagers are eagerly awaiting the completion of the facility since many of them were aware of the presence of these semi-precious stones but at the same time were unaware of how invaluable they are.
One resident said she had no knowledge these minerals were so exquisite and that villagers were practically traversing daily over a fortune and what could possibly be the villages main economic driver.
Johnny Roth another villager who is a gem specialist and also a resident will also play a key role in seeing this project to fruition. Roth has worked in the mining industry for a number of years and will be an asset.
Minister Garrido-Lowe also highlighted the Tourism aspect of this initiative where tourists can go on an excursion in search of these semi-precious minerals and be able to appreciate the process from the time it is collected to completion of the final product, whether it’s an ear ring, necklace, pendant, ring/s or any other fine jewelry produced.
Kato, Kurukubaru, Maikwak and Tuseneng are the four other villages to benefit since these semi-precious stones can also be found there in abundance. Among them crystals, amethyst, volcanic, jasper and agate gemstones, and once retrieved and taken to the factory several unique pieces including jewelry will be created which will add value to the product.
Meanwhile, the Ministry had requested of the village a quarter of an acre of land for the construction of the facility, but villages decided to set aside an acre of land which will see the construction of a 40’x 20’ facility which will boast a workshop, exhibit area, wash rooms and security area.
Monkey Mountain or the traditional name when the village was established “Wandike” is home to more than one thousand residents and is nestled beautifully in the North Pakaraima Mountain Range and lies seventeen hundred feet above sea level.
Its main economic activity is traditional farming, hunting and fishing.