Asked which country has the highest suicide rate, most people would never think to answer “Guyana.” But a new World Health Organization report puts the “Land of Many Waters” at the top of the list, even above North Korea when adjusted for population age (it ranks third without this age adjustment).
The study focused on data from 2012, but the Guyanese people are very aware suicide has been a major ongoing problem for years. Beneath the tranquil Caribbean atmosphere in Guyana, terrible poverty reigns, and despair drives far too many suffering souls – especially men – to give up on life entirely.
This grim trend adds a new dimension to the great work being done at Ruimveldt Children’s Home & Care Center. In a place where so many people struggle with hopelessness, RCHCC is giving hope to the most desperate and vulnerable group of all – children with HIV/AIDS. The ministry’s compassionate and effective service is what compels us to keep supporting it year after year.
We recently learned the story of an 8-year-old boy who was born with HIV. When his mother died of AIDS, none of his family members were willing to take him in. The disease carries a heavy stigma in Guyana, causing the victims to be feared, ridiculed and ostracized. When the boy arrived at RCHCC in 2011, he was severely malnourished and suffering from tuberculosis. But the staff knew that with the proper care, this vulnerable little boy could have a good life ahead of him.
The boy turned out to be a real fighter. He overcame severe malnutrition and his white blood cell count has jumped from 75 to 175 (still well below normal levels, but the change indicates a significantly improved immune system). He’s going to school now, and he has become a very happy child who loves to play. He’s also learning that he is dearly loved by God and by his caretakers and that his life is worth living and celebrating no matter the obstacles.