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Visionary leader aids rural underprivileged youth
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Visionary leader aids rural underprivileged youth

From CYP Caribbean Centre:

In 1988 a rural youth, who was determined to make a difference, was given a life changing experience by the Commonwealth Youth Programme’s Caribbean Centre.

On placing second in the Caribbean Youth of the Year Award this young man Alex Montgomery Foster was rewarded with his first overseas trip for one week as the guest of the Youth Department in Barbados.

This exposure would forever change the life of Alex and thousand of youths he was to come into contact with over the years. On returning to Guyana he embarked on a new vision of making a difference at a national level.

Alex later participated in the Caribbean Youth Exchange to Barbados and Trinidad & Tobago (1992) and in a number of training programmes offered by CYP nationally and regionally. He also received Training in Bangladesh, South Africa, Colombia, USA, Canada and benefitted from training programmes, held by other development and funding agencies, to build his competence and widen his vision.

Alex is the Coordinator/ Founder of Friends of St. Francis a Non Governmental Organisation (NGO) with a membership of 32 NGOs in Guyana. As Coordinator, Alex oversees 152 Staff Members, 752 Volunteers, 18 Full Time Offices in different communities, 21 Micro- Business Ventures, Skills Training Programmes, Regional Projects and a diverse range of social services.

Under his leadership St Francis has constructed 16 major buildings in different communities to offer over 41 different community responsive services. Health, Education, Sports and Entrepreneurship projects are among the major initiatives of the Friends of St Francis as follows:

Education:

Over 10,000 youths were able to access training and capacity building opportunities through life and skills training for career choices.

Training of Youth/Community Workers

The Friends of St Francis recently partnered with CYP to provide training in research methodology for their youth and community workers.

Health

The Friends of St Francis partnered with CYP to train leaders from rural NGOs in the Commonwealth Youth for Positive Living programme. HIV Counseling and testing services is also provided to the wider community by this NGO. Families who are affected by HIV benefit from their support.

Sports

The Youth and Sports Arm of St. Francis is the Rose Hall Town Youth and Sports Club has won national awards for its contribution to cricket and Olympics. In 2012 they received an award from the International Olympics IOC Committee. The Club has produced national and West Indies Cricketers.

Entrepreneurship

Successful implementation of the CYP- Youth Micro Credit Initiative Programme in Berbice creating small businesses that employ over 500 youths part/full time.

In 2010 his NGO launched a $1.5 Million U.S dollars project titled, Project RESCUE, “Reforming Education, Skills and Capacity for Ultimate Empowerment”, with nine sub- projects across nine communities. Today the Project is nearly $2.5 Million U.S with donors such as UNDP, EU, CIDA, DIFID, Food for the Poor- Guyana, the Governments of Japan, Australia and Germany, UNICEF and the local Private Sector. This Project provides empowerment opportunities for youths through training, exposure and access to resources.

Alex is currently spearheading the construction of a Caribbean Training Centre for Grassroot Developers titled, “The Village” on ten (10) acres of land.  When completed this project will have a headquarters complex, training complex, fruits/ fish farm, guest house and land developmental works. Alex plans to build fifteen more community buildings over the next 3 years.

Other significant accomplishments:

1)       Alex has served as a Councillor on his Township Council. He later became the youngest Deputy Mayor then Mayor of the municipality  of Rose Hall (1993), where he utilised his newly acquired skills to impact his community by giving youths a voice and inspiration for success.

2)       The NGO secured a Commonwealth Commendation in the Youth Service Award in 1991 but later won the Commonwealth Youth Service Award three times in 1992, 1995 and 1999.

3)       In 1998 Alex became his country’s youngest national awardee by securing Guyana’s first Youth of the Year Award. That same year he was also selected as one of the (60) sixty most influential young social entrepreneurs in the World by twelve International Agencies and became a member of the Common Futures Forum.

4)       Alex was honoured by Republic Bank, Ernst & Young and CIBC as a Caribbean Entrepreneur of the Year 2001 Awards.

5)       Alex sits on several national Committees, Boards and Bodies with Government, International Donors and Developmental Agencies. Today he is the Civil Society Representative at UNDP Guyana- EPTSI Project.

6)       Berbice Representative of Food for the Poor- Guyana ensures that millions of dollars reaches the poor and over 41 Projects are presently beginning implemented.

7)       As the Chairman of the Felix Austin Police Management Committee ‘B’ Division, Alex is supporting the enhanced delivery of services by Police trainees.

8)       In collaboration with the Office of the President-Youth Choice Initiative Project, Alex provides leadership for the construction and implementation of 26 Projects/ Programmes to enhance youth development.

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