“This summit serves as a call to action for you as leaders in your respective spheres of influence to develop this plan that will bear relevance at the local, state, and federal levels,” Senator Charles declared in his keynote address at the inaugural Jamaica Diaspora USA leadership summit, at the Morrow Convention Center in the city of Morrow, Georgia, on Saturday, November 17.
Senator Charles said the leadership summit – the first of its kind in a Jamaican context – will serve as a model for collaboration and cohesiveness among Jamaicans globally. “As you are gathered here to chart a path of building a unified Diaspora, I urge you to recall the history of the first generations of Jamaicans who migrated to this country,” the Minister continued.
“They were determined, and they had a strong sense of community pride, purpose and industriousness, all uniquely Jamaican,” he stressed, sharing his firm belief that these unique Jamaican values were why members of the Diasporas continued to succeed at the highest levels in their adopted homeland.
Senator Charles urged his compatriots to “recognise the benefit of the Plan being aligned also to the four core goals of Jamaica’s National Development Plan,” as they explore in depth the various elements that will form part of the Diaspora Development Plan.
He explained that “This calls for not only a whole of government approach but essentially a whole of society approach,” as the Diaspora, part of a connected element of our country across the world, “is one of our key development partners.”
Assuring his fellow Jamaicans that government was listening to their concerns in working with them for a better Jamaica, he explained that his Ministry had established a Returning Residents Taskforce in response to the myriad issues affecting the Returning Residents community – one deliverable of the Taskforce being the publication of the Safety and Security Handbook for those Jamaicans seeking to return home and those who have already returned. That handbook has been completed and circulated to the Diaspora.
Minister Charles reported as well that meetings were held with Jamaica Customs Agency to address the concerns raised by Diaspora entrepreneurs and philanthropists. “We have agreed to partner, over the next few months, in developing a communication strategy to guide the Diaspora on the relevant procedures and processes as they relate to the importation and donation of items into the country.”
The summit brought together more than 200 representatives of Jamaican diaspora organisations, under the theme “Making Our Voices Matter Through Leadership.” It focused on the development of the diaspora USA leadership based as well as strengthen theie contribution to Jamaica.
Accompanying the Minister at the conference were Undersecretary for Diaspora, Protocol and Consular Affairs in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Foreign Trade, Ambassador Sharon Saunders; and Acting Director of Diaspora Affairs, Lincoln Downer. Also participating were Jamaica’s Consul General in Miami, Oliver Mair; Trudy Deans, Consul-General in New York.
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