SVG Diaspora committee holds week of activities
December 22, 2011
SVG Diaspora committee holds week of activities

Activities continue today to commemorate the first ever Vincentian Diaspora Day and week of activities, with a reception for all who worked with the Diaspora Committee throughout the past year.{{more}}

The activities are being organized by the Diaspora Committee of St Vincent and the Grenadines and a three member team from the United States, comprising Maxwell Haywood, Maureen King and Sherill-Ann Mason, who arrived in the state last week to celebrate the occasion.

The week of activities began with a church service and radio programme last Sunday, December 18, a day which was designated ‘International Migrants Day’ by the United Nations.

Activities continued on Monday morning with a special Diaspora Nine Mornings activity at Heritage Square.

On Wednesday, the team visited the site of the Argyle International Airport and farmers’ market at North Union, activities referred to as ‘developmental tours’ by Haywood.

The visit by the team was to implement the plans that were set over a year ago to organize the first Vincentian Diaspora Day and subsequently a week of activities, he explained.

“This is to complement the international communities’ decision to make December 18 International Migrants Day,” Haywood told SEARCHLIGHT.

“So we try to kill two birds with one stone by concretizing International Migrants Day to our national context so we called it Diaspora Day – we put our twist to it,” he further explained.

Activities were held simultaneously in New York, he said, with a church service and lecture.

The hope by the end of the visit Haywood explained, is to achieve a deeper awareness by the Vincentian population as to the seriousness and legacies of the contribution of those living abroad and the great potential that exists to strengthen that bond.

“So we are really hoping in nutshell that the social capital that exists, we are hoping that it will be strengthened and gain further root in the ground,” Haywood said.

While relations between the two groups are described as good, Haywood said that there was still some room for improvement.

This is where the Diaspora Committee is expected to fill in some of those gaps, with a series of projects including the development conference which is expected to take place every two years and coming in 2012, round table discussions to provide a space for the relevant people and organizations to come together and discuss the needs of the country and how they can be addressed.

According to Haywood, the strategy adopted by the committee is one that moves away from a welfare approach to one that will strengthen the policy capacity of the country.

“To put things in place in a more sustainable way so in the future, instead of sending down barrels alone we will be sending down things like technology, knowledge, ideas etc,” he said.

Haywood further contended that there already existed institutions in the Diaspora that were already doing good work and that it was not the intention of the Diaspora Committee to copy them.