Roxanne Hermanstyne and her family come from Victoria Village, as well as Cove and John Village, both on the Atlantic Coast of Guyana and now live in Hawaii are helping to improve the health and well-being of residents in the rural areas of her homeland.
“Each year, my father marked his birthday by arranging transportation for students from the David Rose School for handicapped children to visit my dad’s former business, known as Jazzy Jack in Kitty, for a celebratory event,” she said.
This is just one of many acts of kindness she remembers while growing up there. “My memories are filled with abundant food, joyous laughter, dancing, and the distribution of toys to the children,” she added.
Hermanstyne was living in New York City, working at NYU Hospital in the Pharmacy Department. After she received a call from her aunt, in which her aunt shared her diagnosis of cancer in 2018, she decided to start the Blueprint Foundation, formerly known as the Benin Foundation. She was the only one in her family with a healthcare background at the time.
The Foundation provides education on technology to young people in underserved areas in Guyana, with a focus on improving access to education and healthcare for all.
“As I reflected on the situation, it struck me that many people in the rural areas of Guyana might not have access to such assistance during times of need. It was at that moment that I realized change was on the horizon, and I was driven to make a difference,” she continued.
The volunteers in the foundation are a very tight-knit group of Hermanstyne’s close friends and family members, and she greatly appreciates their efforts. “Every year, my friends eagerly anticipate the opportunity to journey with me to Guyana. In Guyana, my childhood friends and family members readily extend a helping hand during our outreach week,” she stated.
Their contributions include assisting in the packaging of hampers, overseeing patient check-ins, as well as distributing school supplies and backpacks to children in need. Additionally, some of them volunteer their time to document the journey, ensuring that their efforts are well-documented and shared.
Furthermore, she has instilled principles of teamwork and unity in the volunteers, emphasizing that when they come together as one, they have the capacity to reach and positively impact far more people than they might initially imagine.
Her aunt’s diagnosis also led her to put together medical mission trips for the volunteers, and to establish the Blueprint Academy, where young people can improve on their digital literacy skills. During their most recent mission trip, on the second day while at the clinic on the east coast, Hermanstyne and her team found themselves delivering a baby at the back of a car before the patient could reach Georgetown Hospital.
“I firmly believe that I, along with my team, were in the right place at the right time. Looking back at where I began and where the organization stands today, I can see a significant positive transformation,” she added.
The Foundation’s biggest successes include getting its 501c3 status from the IRS this year, which Hermanstyne says has opened so many more pathways. Another for her is having the privilege of networking organically with people she had met for the first time.
“As I shared the stories and experiences tied to our mission, something truly remarkable happened. I began to receive on-the-spot donations from individuals who were genuinely moved by our cause. It was incredibly heartening to witness this spontaneous outpouring of support,” she said.
With technology progressing as fast as it is, Hermanstyne sees the challenge of organizations struggling to keep up.
“The digital footprint of my foundation has undergone significant changes in response to the pandemic. As a result of this digital transformation, I am continually expanding my knowledge of various online avenues for activities like fundraisers and meetings,” she continued.
From a healthcare perspective: “Something as seemingly small as providing a glucose monitor and supplies can be life-changing for patients who cannot afford these necessities each month,” she stated.
“Access to maintenance medication is nothing short of life-saving for many of our patients. Every action we take at Blueprint leaves a lasting footprint of the change we aspire to bring to these communities.
Another thing she wishes people knew is the profound impact that even a small donation can have.
“It’s like creating a ripple effect that breaks down medical and educational barriers in the rural areas of Guyana. These contributions enable students to enhance their digital literacy, opening doors for them to generate income and ultimately create better lives for themselves,” she said.
This year, the mission trip to Guyana is scheduled from Nov. 5 to Nov. 11, 2023. Hermanstyne and her team will be visiting three areas: Victoria, Linden and Kwakwani. This will be the first medical and educational mission trip since the pandemic in 2020.
The mission trip is for those age 18 and older, and those who are younger must travel with a parent or guardian. Those interested in attending can find more details here: https://blueprintfoundationinc.servicereef.com/events/the-blueprint-foundation-inc/november-2023-in-field-medical-mission-trip-guyana#overview.
To support the Blueprint Foundation, those who are interested can donate here: https://blueprintfoundationinc.servicereef.com/organizations/the-blueprint-foundation-inc/donate.