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Jamaica's ambassador to US promotes Diaspora conference

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Washington DC - The Embassy of Jamaica in Washington DC has heightened preparatory activities in support of the upcoming fifth biennial Diaspora conference, in an effort to engender even greater interest from an already engaged Jamaican community across the United States.

The Embassy's efforts to actively publicize the conference, has been met with enthusiasm not only from established Jamaican organizations and philanthropic groups which support charitable causes in Jamaica, but also from individual Jamaican nationals desiring to play a more meaningful role in the country's economic and social development.

The Conference, themed, "A Nation on a Mission - Jamaica Diaspora Partnership for Development", will be staged at the Montego Bay Conference Centre from June 16 to 19. It will involve hundreds of participants representing several Jamaican organizations, as well as professional and business interests drawn from communities in Jamaica, the United Kingdom, Canada, and the United States.

In an effort to acquaint the Jamaican community within the Washington region with the key themes and objectives of the conference, Jamaica’s Ambassador to the United States, His Excellency Stephen Vasciannie, along with other embassy staff, met with leaders of the major community organizations on Wednesday, May 22, in a consultative forum, designed to solicit input aimed at shaping the conference's agenda.

The interaction was primarily to familiarize participants with the draft agenda of the conference and to invite the community to provide its own perspective on how the discussions at the forum could serve to encourage greater levels of support from Jamaicans abroad, as well as invest in the process of nation building.

In addressing the gathering, Ambassador Vasciannie noted that the conference is designed to reach out to our Diaspora community, not only here in the United States, but in the United Kingdom, and Canada as well. “Our goal is to incorporate them into the government's national development agenda and to determine a feasible mechanism through which their contribution towards national development can be facilitated."

Ambassador Vasciannie mentioned that the conference also attempts to harmonize several initiatives currently being undertaken by groups in the three countries and to provide a structure that would aid the delivery of assistance, which was being rendered.

"As you know, many of our citizens abroad have consistently lent their skills and capital in various areas, such as health and education. The problem, however, is that these efforts have been largely executed on an ad hoc basis. This is an attempt by the government to apprise our nationals overseas of the policy objectives of the government and to create a framework within which the assistance that they provide on a voluntary basis, can be rendered in a manner that is more consistent with the government's approach and therefore yield greater efficiencies to the nation," he said.

Minister of State in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Foreign Trade, Hon. Arnaldo Brown, who addressed the heads of the organizations via a conference call, said the upcoming conference seeks to build on the legacy of Jamaica 50 celebrations by exploring and defining opportunities for the Diaspora to expand their business interest in Jamaica, through increased trade and investments.

He added that both large and small participants would engage in discussions about ways to expand and facilitate the Diaspora’s contributions to health and education in Jamaica, social partnerships, both as individuals and organizations.

He said the conference would bring together a diverse group of Jamaicans in an effort to facilitate and broaden the Diaspora’s engagement and involvement in the affairs of the country of their birth.

The minister pointed out that attendees to the conference would be provided with updates on major trade and investment opportunities and urged them to attend the conference, as more detailed information would be provided on how the government is addressing various issues affecting the country. Diaspora Board representative for the NE USA, Mr. Irwin Claire also addressed the community leaders.

Members of the community organizations present at the consultations were optimistic about the conference's overall prospects and its ability to provide a forum for meaningful dialogue among Jamaicans living overseas, the Jamaican government, private sector and civil society.