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Finding My Voice in the Noise

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Derwayne M. Wills
Member since April 2, 2015
  • 19 Posts
  • Age 25

Ranks of the Guyana Police Force lined-up during the mass protest. © News Source Guyana

Ranks of the Guyana Police Force lined-up during the mass protest. © News Source Guyana

Being a journalist at age 22 is no easy feat. Neither is juggling that profession with blogging and activism. But hey, I managed to turn out alright. Sometimes I have to remind myself of how far I’ve come and how one thing lead to the other. Allow me to throwback to where it all began.

The year was 2012. It was July. I was fresh out of High School. Around that time, there was a small resistance movement happening in one of the towns of Guyana because of some surprise government measures that were done without consultation.

I can’t go into the details of what caused the resistance in the small town of one of Guyana’s remote regions, but things got ugly fast. What started as a demonstration developed into a mass protest when three demonstrators were shot and killed in the early morning hours of July 18, 2012.

As if that wasn’t bad enough, protesters who were exercising their democratic right to assemble in a peaceful manner were called hooligans and thugs by the then Government and their supporters. Social media was alive with rogue profiles created by Government supporters that not only denied these protesters their right to assemble, but accused them of being destructive Opposition elements.

That was the last straw for me. I figured I could try my hand in the media. My mission was to shed light on all the inaccuracies and fear mongering from rogue profiles on social media, and to shine light on the clear cases of police brutality happening on the ground in that town.

I sent my first application to one of the daily newspapers. In my exuberance, I hoped my application would go through right away, I would be called for an interview then - Boom! - I’d be thrown into the battlefield.

Wrong. It took three months for my application to be recognised and for me to be called for the interview. By that time, the mass protests were over, and the people of that town were picking up the broken pieces after reaching a compromise with the Government.

The interview didn’t go so well. I was broken. I didn’t take to rejection too well, but I learned I had to suck it up and move forward. So I sent out more applications to more media houses.

In 2013, I finally got a call after sending my second set of applications. There was one response. Just one. I was excited. The call came one year after, and I had forgotten I had even sent the application but I was happy - for the moment. Unfortunately, I wasn’t successful at that interview either. Talk about stockpiled devastation. Again, I picked up the pieces.

2013 was still a good year, I had started university. I had represented my university in Washington DC at the Model OAS General Assembly, and my GPA was on point. It was also the year I got involved in the anti-xenophobia movement against the ruling of the Dominican Republic court against Dominicans of Haitian descent.

2014 was my emerging year. I had my first job at the Ministry of Health in Guyana, and I loved it, but it wasn’t me. I just couldn’t sit behind a desk all day. I had to be active. There is something monotonous about knowing what you were doing at work today, even before you get in there. Data-entry was my area, and even though it put money in my pocket, it did nothing for my rebellious, exploratory spirit.

April 2014 was my peak. That’s when it all happened. I got a call from a friend who was a journalist for the state-owned newspaper. He told me they had vacancies for political reporters and he was impressed by my writing on social media. Did I hesitate? Of course, not. I had arrived!

But I came to learn that there were some things that could not be said in state-media. I felt like I was in a strait-jacket. So I turned to other alternatives. I blogged. I became part of a joint blog with other vibrant young people, it’s called Youth Blogs GY, and I’m still a contributor. I think this is the reason why my blogging style is so journalistic at times, because my blogging started out as me doing journalistic pieces that could not be published in the newspaper I worked for.

That was 16 months ago. Today, my experiences have made me into a whole being that I am proud of. I can say without a doubt that my journalism, blogging, and activism were all developed in support of each other. But none of it would be possible without my activism. True activism is an erupting urge from within. It is that point where you feel so angry and so helpless at the sight of injustice that you can’t bear to sit down one more second.

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