Emancipation message at Den AmstelPresident David Granger on Sunday called on residents of Den Amstel Village, West Coast Demerara (WCD), to take up the mantle and continue to build strong villages, through the upholding of the four historical pillars of success.These pillars he laid out, are family, religion, education and gainful means of employment, especially in the area of agriculture.President Granger was at the time speaking at the West Coast Demerara Group of Congregational Churches and the Religious Community of Den Amstel’s Inter-Denominational Independence and Emancipation Service, which was held at the Ebenezer Congregational Church in the village. He said that emancipation saw the development of new societies, which were established through village movements.“That Emancipation movement led to other movements. It led to the village movement and last year I passed an order so that November 7 of every year is commemorated as the National Day of Villages. It is not a holiday but stamps have been issued and it is to be observed as the day when our first village, Victoria, was established. That of course led to hundreds of other villages and village movements and that includes, of course, Den Amstel”, the Head of State said.He noted that emancipation was important since it triggered all of the movements that followed: “I’ve often said that these villages, which were established on the coastland, were the single most economic, social and political development in the history of our country.”Homes, the President said, play an important role in every village, since these are responsible for families, for the teaching of values and the moulding of mind and character.“First of all, it’s the home because there were no homes on the plantations. People couldn’t marry and even if you had a partner, she could be sent to Wakenaam, your children could be sent to Bagotville. Family life was not permitted.”He said after emancipation, persons returned and reconnected with their wives and children.“So that they could build and that is why they had to get off those plantations, so that they can build homes. That was the first pillar on which these villages were built. Family and homes and keeping the family together and we must never forget that. Every child belongs in a home,” the President said.Places of worship, especially churches, during those days, also played a critical role in the establishment of villages since they set a foundation of strong morals, educated the young and helped to shape their future.“The second pillar was the church and that is why I am so fond of the Congregational Church because they were on the scene, they took the licks, they took the persecution, they stood by to freed Africans and gave them support,” Granger remarked.Education, which was in many ways linked to religious education, played a critical role in the development of villages and President Granger said that it continues to be important to the development of all communities and the country.“Schools were the third pillar of which the villages were built, and yes, some people did leave the sugar cane plots to go to school and that’s why after Emancipation, so many of our teachers, our pastors, were educated people,” he said.The President, who has been pushing an ‘Every Child in School’ policy since his assumption to office, called on all residents to make that policy their personal responsibility in a cooperative effort to stamp out illiteracy, truancy and delinquency, so that the villages, communities and ultimately the country, can benefit from young, bright minds, to drive the economy forward.The fourth pillar is the farm or investments in agriculture, which are necessary for food security, not just for the villages, but the country as a whole. Persons must be encouraged to become entrepreneurs so that farming initiatives in the villages can prosper, the President said.According to Granger “integration started with these villages where there were homes, schools and farms and those were the four pillars on which these villages were established and when you shake those pillars, the house will fall. When you shake the home, the school, the church, the farm, the villages will collapse because you will have nothing to rest on… We have to plan, to perform and produce.”Right Reverend Valeska Austin from the Den Amstel Ebenezer Congregational Church, in acknowledging the charge given by the President, gave the assurance that the church and the village will work together to ensure that this vision becomes reality.Chairman of the Hague/Blankenburg Neighbourhood Democratic Council, Kenton Hilliman in his brief remarks said the village movement was a tradition started by the freed slaves and is responsible for the establishment of Den Amstel. He noted that he foresees a bright future for the village since every stakeholder will be encouraged to pool their efforts, as in the past, to make the area a success story.