After four years of exceptional delivery of service to citizens at the Guyana Consulate to New York, Consul General Barbara Atherly, said goodbye at a grand farewell dinner on Sept. 26, organized by the Executive of Guyanese in the Diaspora Inc., at the Trattoria Casa Di Isacco Restaurant in Manhattan.
The diplomat, who was an educator in all ten regions of Guyana, and served over 20 years as an international public servant with (UNICEF), before being appointed consul general in 2016, under the Coalition government, was celebrated as a competent leader who went beyond the call of duty to bring Guyanese together.
Atherly, who will return to Georgetown after her tenure ends in October, listened to tributes that expounded her kindness, her brilliant transformation of the consulate, and the cohesion she brought to the Guyanese community.
The highly educated individual, who admits she becomes emotional at farewell gatherings, was presented with a sculpture of the map of America designed by renowned Guyanese artist, Jonathan Locke, on behalf of the organization.
A Certificate of Honor, presented, along with a poem by Stanhope Williams, spoke of the grateful appreciation the group felt for the dedicated, consistently high standard of service CG went beyond the normal call of duty to provide.
Applauded for her enormous historic outreaches across New York and New Jersey, Atherly who also chaired the CARICOM Consular Corp. during the Caribbean flood disaster of 2019, was thanked for her non-stop commitment and passion to the diaspora, wherein she delivered speeches at festivals, alumni functions, and town hall meetings.
She also volunteered at Calvery’s Mission Food pantry, marched in the Labor Day parade, and inspired the formation of various organizations, including (GID), during her tenure.
She told the group that each of them brought something special to her life, and urged them to keep the dream alive, focus on objectives, and forge ahead.
The Georgetown-born phenomenal woman, from a family of 10 children, credits the great values and upbringing instilled by her late mother. She said always do your best, and be honest, noting that she did things from the heart.
“My journey was one of fulfilling my purpose in service to humanity, but at the same time I had my family, who could not join me at some duty stations because of unsafe situations,” said Atherly, recalling her bravery, working in war-torn countries, such as Syria, one of her toughest assignments, she said, due to the ongoing conflict situation at the time.
She recounted, being the only Christian among Muslims in Iraq, where she kept her bible under her pillow, but at the same time embraced the culture and customs of her colleagues.
“It pains me to see how we live as Guyanese, based on our race and ethnicity. We can have a better relationship with each other. I am Guyanese first and foremost,” shared the CG, who worked dutifully to bridge the gap between Indo and Afro Guyanese in the diaspora.
Despite settling-in to help others around the world, she on many occasions questioned herself, as to why she had gone to war-torn countries, after she was already on the ground.
With more than 25 years experience in the diplomatic corp., Atherly, who completed her studies at the University of Guyana, and University of the West Indies, later training to become a teacher like her mother, completed assignments in Afghanistan, Nepal, India, Bangladesh, Iraq and Mozambique, before taking up the post as Consul General to New York.
She credits the Guyana National Service for playing a major part in her love of service that instilled pride for country.
The consul general expressed gratitude to Melnia Cordis, Jonathan and Brenda Locke, Lourdeth Ferguson, Stanhope Williams, Kwesi McDavid, Claire Patterson-Monah, Lorraine Croft-Farnell, Verna Walcott-White, Paul Anthony O’Dell, Clint McPherson, Janice Belgrade-Richardson, and Rhonda OReilly-Bovell, for the thoughtfulness that brought much joy and memories of her service to Guyanese at the Consulate New York.