December 20, 2016
Meeting the strategic challenges of diaspora affairs

On December 18 of every year, the world celebrates International Migrants Day. The St Vincent and the Grenadines Diaspora Committee of New York Inc joins with the rest of the world to reflect on the role of migration and diaspora affairs in the development process of countries.

Diaspora communities around the world have been making sterling contributions to their host countries and to the countries of their birth. The Vincentian diaspora is no different and has been making its contributions.{{more}} Moreover, it has been showing its enormous potential to do more and greater deeds for its host countries and for St Vincent and the Grenadines. This reality demonstrates the urgent need for a new culture of diaspora affairs if this enormous potential is to be fully realized.

The St Vincent and the Grenadines Diaspora Committee of New York Inc has recognized this enormous potential of the Vincentian diaspora and has taken on the challenge, in collaboration with other Vincentian diaspora organizations, to take Vincentian diaspora affairs to a higher level, especially in the USA and even beyond. But how has the Diaspora Committee gone about meeting this strategic challenge?

About six years ago, the St Vincent and the Grenadines Diaspora Committee of New York emerged out of the St Vincent and the Grenadines Cultural Symposium Committee to follow-up the SVG Diaspora Framework of Action, which was the outcome document of the Homecoming Conference of 2009.

Over the six years of its existence, the core focus of the Diaspora Committee has included five basic tasks:

1. To promote and build effective Vincentian diaspora forums, organizations, institutions, and development processes;

2. To serve as a link between SVG’s Diaspora in the USA and policy-processes in SVG, and the USA;

3. To raise awareness/consciousness about the issues confronting the Vincentian diaspora and about the power and role of the Vincentian diaspora, in the context of the theme: “Migration, Diaspora, and Development”;

4. To contribute to meeting the social, humanitarian (charitable or philanthropic), economic, and governance needs in SVG and in the Vincentian diaspora in the USA; and

5. To implement the recommendations established in the SVG US Diaspora Framework for Action 0f 2009.

Since becoming a reality, the St Vincent and the Grenadines diaspora Committee of New York, Inc, has embarked on several vital initiatives including, but not limited to: SVG Diaspora Development Conference; creation of SVG United States Sports Association (SVGUSASA); creation of the Cultural Association of Vincentians in the USA (CAVUSA); creation of a Business Initiative; Diaspora Heritage Awards and Gala; convening of annual Diaspora Leadership Development Workshops; formulation and contribution of ideas for the National Diaspora Policy of SVG; SVG-Diaspora Information Network/Data Base; national consultations with government, NGO/civil society organizations, private business sector, cooperatives, and the media in SVG to forge closer relations between Vincentians at home in SVG and those abroad in the diaspora; Diaspora Week of Activities in celebration of the International Migrants Day in December; provision of donations of toys and other gifts to children in SVG and New York during Christmas; awareness-raising activities about the developmental role of migration and the Vincentian diaspora; launch of the Youth Initiative; several Round Table Community Consultations on: unity in the Vincentian diaspora, Vincentian youth in the diaspora, cultural arts policy of SVG, and on sports relations between SVG and the diaspora; conducted many radio and TV interviews, and organized town hall meetings.

Indeed, this is an ambitious vision and effort. But we are convinced that we are on the correct path. In many ways, as a volunteer organization, we have already come a relatively long way. We are seeing many lights in the dark tunnel as we move ahead and these lights are making our hopes become a reality.

We greet International Migrants Day 2016 with lots of enthusiasm and optimism that better must come. We wish migrants around the world all the best in their endeavours. (Contributed by Maxwell Haywood)