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“The greatest lesson I learnt from the former Presidents was to love your country. Independence is more than your own flag or a national anthem. It is an important lesson for the individual too.”By Kiana WilburgThe only rivals to her love for teaching are her passion for equality, and of course, dedicated publicYvonne Harewood-Bennservice. This is,Wholesale Jerseys, perhaps, one of the main reasons why Yvonne Harewood-Benn was chosen in April 1978,Wholesale NFL Jerseys, to serve as Guyana’s first female Consul-General. It would see her using every occasion she could to improve Guyana’s image on the international stage and championing women’s right to equal opportunities.She has represented Guyana at innumerable overseas conferences including the Conference of Non-Aligned Nations in Colombo, Sri Lanka, in 1976. The retired public servant has also addressed several international missions on social and humanitarian affairs – one being the 32nd General Assembly of the United Nations in New York. She also participated in a multi-regional programme to improve the status of women, sponsored by the US State Department.Today, at age 80, Harewood-Benn, who professes a love like no other for the Lord, credits her still youthful spirit to her creator.CHILDHOOD AND EDUCATIONYvonne Veronica Harewood-Benn was born on Friday, October 19, 1934, to Barbadian parents. Her father came to Guyana’s shores and worked as a labourer on the Skeldon Estate. He later sent for his wife,Soccer Jerseys China, and soon enough they welcomed their only daughter into the world.She grew up acquiring a love for the estate environment. Her humble beginnings were a source for pragmatic reflection.A portrait of our ‘Special Person’“We were poor, but that was not an excuse for not advancing. But even then it didn’t hit home to me that I was poor. We had clothes on our backs and lots to eat because my father had a farm and I grew up with my brother, my only sibling…and I can say that I had a good childhood. My brother still lives in Berbice, but when the (PPP) government took over in 1992, he didn’t embrace them, and so they burnt the family house down. I lost a lot in that fire.”Nonetheless, the mother of one, who now lives with her nieces and nephews,Cheap Wholesale Jerseys, expressed that in spite of such setbacks and distractions, she always had a passion for knowledge.“I always had a love for education. As I mentioned earlier, my parents were not well-off financially… or educationally as a matter of fact, but they always wanted us to have what they didn’t and at all cost we went to school.”She spoke of her admiration for the teachers in those days who exhibited an unparalleled commitment to their purpose. It was an inspiration to her.“I was the first girl in the area to get what they called a county scholarship, and as they say, it takes a county or a community, to rear a child. It is so true, because when people heard that I got Bishops’ High,Cheap Wholesale Jerseys, everyone chipped in to help out. Who didn’t take me to the dressmaker,Being sworn in as Minister of Information by President Desmond Hoyte.took me to get books, and it was great feeling. When I came to Bishops’, I spent seven good years there, and it was there my eyes opened to some things that live with me to this day. That’s where I saw the distinct difference between poor and rich and you knew your place, but you still settled in.”Harewood-Benn recalled that she did six subjects, acquiring distinctions in French and English and a passing grade in Mathematics.After completing her secondary education, it was obvious to her, that her calling was teaching. The field was so exciting to her that she placed her plans to pursue tertiary studies on pause and chased after a career in tutoring.“I believe that only the educated are truly free, and that was the reason why I was so excited to teach,” she said.She taught for several years at Skeldon Scots School and moved on to hone her skills at the Teachers’ Training College, which was located at the time on Main Street.After graduating, Harewood-Benn taught at other schools, but eventually made theMs. Harewood-Benn while she served as Consul-General in the US.decision to further her studies. She attended London University and graduated with her B.A. (Honours) in French and Geography.She returned to Guyana, and not surprisingly, continued her teaching career at her former High School, as a Geography teacher, and later moved to Linden to teach at another school.But her life there, took a very important turn that steered her away from the classroom.ACCEPTING MAJOR CHALLENGESHarewood-Benn said that she was approached in the 1970s to be Regional Chairman for Linden, and was speechless at the mere proposition.“I told them that I knew anything about this. But I accepted the challenge anyway, and I went on to work in that post. Soon enough, Former President L.F.S. Burnham appointed me Consul-General, and life took on new meaning for me, very quickly.”She noted her many interesting trips to New York, where it became imperative for her to lead a movement to improve Guyana’s image.“There was not a good impression of our country at that time, because we had some economic problems and we had to change that image. I had several meetings in New York, New Jersey and Connecticut towards this end.”Subsequent to that experience, she returned to Guyana in 1980 to serve as Minister of Public Service. Under the Hoyte administration, she served in the said post as well as Minister of Information.“You know, when I took the regional post it was a learning experience. And I am grateful for the people that were around me, those who taught me. I had some memorable moments in my political career too. I remember hearing Burnham give a talk and he was such a moving and impressive figure that you were inspired to get the work going, you were seized by nationalism. It is a patriotic feeling and I feel it now with the new administration.”Harewood-Benn said that working with former President Burnham, she also learnt to be very meticulous.“If he walked in and saw a flag not hanging properly, it bothered him. Little things like that mattered. I wouldn’t say he was a perfectionist, but he wanted things done properly. He let you know the things he stood for and was not too shy to ask for help. I learnt to do that too. As for Hoyte, he was another excellent role model. And it was excellent working for both of them. It was not a chore. You felt part of a nationalistic movement, a worthy cause. That is what leaders are supposed to do. Of course there were times when we argued and sometimes I won, and then I didn’t (chuckles).”“The greatest lesson I learnt from the former Presidents was to love your country. Independence is more than your own flag or a national anthem. It is an important lesson for the individual too.”WOMEN IN POLITICSAs a woman who had a fulfilling part of her life in politics, Harewood-Benn believes that Guyanese women should be encouraged to be a part of the political process.“They say we are tender-hearted,NFL Jerseys Supply, compassionate and so forth, but we bring maturity and sensitivity, and rest assured, we get the job done. More women should get involved in politics and I am extremely proud of the women in politics now,” she said.She added, “To our recently appointed female ministers, I would say, settle down, know your ministry well and get the job done. You have earned your position, so don’t ever be timid. Speak with confidence and back that confidence by knowing your ministry. There is no substitute for that… and carry yourself with integrity because the nation is watching you”Today, the exemplary public servant enjoys playing crossword games, tending to her garden and watching television.Our ‘Special Person’ is thrilled to be the recipient of a National Award – the Cacique’s Crown of Honour – for “long, dedicated and outstanding service in the fields of education and politics, as a Minister of the Government and in the Guyana Foreign Service”. It is due recognition for a dedicated servant of her people, and one who remains a strong advocate for equal rights and opportunity.