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Re-uniting Vincentians at home and abroad

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By Maxwell Haywood 04.APR.08

Relations between St. Vincent and the Grenadines (SVG) and its citizens living abroad or in the Diaspora should never be the same again. This is because SVG has established the office of Regional Integration and Diaspora Unit (RIDU). It was established on October 1st, 2007, and it is led by Mr. Ellsworth John, former Ambassador to the Organization of American States based in Washington DC.{{more}}

RIDU is planted in fertile soil. Vincentian migrants have done a lot to give support to the development of SVG. This experience and legacy of interaction between SVG and its Diaspora stands to bear more fruits. It is an experience pregnant with possibilities for a more productive relationship between SVG and its Diaspora.

Vincentians are scattered throughout the world in Africa, Asia, Europe, Latin America, Middle East, and North America. For many decades now, Vincentians have migrated to these places mainly to study; to reunite with family members; to find productive work; and to support their families left behind in SVG. Many of them have had to overcome difficult obstacles in order to survive in countries quite strange and different to the one to which they were accustomed.

This movement of Vincentians across the world is one that holds many lessons and blessings for us if only we could harness this experience and legacy into a lively force for the constructive development of SVG. In this regard and in the scheme of universal strategies for human survival and development, Vincentians would not be the first, because other nationalities around the world have used their extensive Diaspora network successfully to promote the development of their societies and countries. This is the major challenge of RIDU.

The Unit will address both regional and Diaspora matters. Similar to the regional focus of RIDU, the Diaspora aspect of the Unit is filled with great promise and potential.

According to information coming out of RIDU, it is situated “in the office of the Prime Minister to ensure that decisions at the regional level are implemented at the highest level of government, and it will seek to improve relations between St. Vincent and the Grenadines and its Diaspora or those Vincentians living abroad.”

RIDU is aware of the exciting Diaspora challenges it will address. It wants the nation to know that “the office is there to ensure follow-up on initiatives started with the Diaspora, and that the Unit is designed to work through the Embassies and Consulates or directly with Vincentians in the Diaspora to establish a framework for further engagement of the Vincentian Diaspora in the development of St. Vincent and the Grenadines.”

As a result of the establishment of RIDU, Vincentians returning home to live would be receiving better services to facilitate their return to the land of their birth.

To efficiently and effectively focus on Diaspora affairs, RIDU stated that “one member of its staff has been assigned to work exclusively with the Diaspora and Vincentians who have returned to live in St. Vincent and the Grenadines”.

It went further to state that the immediate focus and activities of RIDU in relation to Diaspora affairs “include planning for a series of Diaspora homecoming events for next year and to follow up with the implementation of conclusions from the various events.”

This kind of governmental mechanism has been missing in action, despite the large number of Vincentians living abroad. RIDU is the first governmental office in the history of SVG to be given the precise mandate, along with office space and staff, to manage and develop Diaspora relations.

RIDU is indeed good news for Vincentians at home and abroad. Let us put it to good use in the interest of national development.

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